The Horses in Modern China – 1

Following the collapse of China’s imperial dynasties in the early 20th century, the horse started a new journey and so did its riding partners. Horses in China are mostly privately owned. While only a handful, which belong to the wealthy, lead a carefree life, the vast majority are kept perpetually busy. All over China, they plough the fields, pull carts, are used as pack horses, provide rides in tourist areas and are ridden for pleasure in riding clubs – from outskirts of big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to their native habitats such as Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai and Yunnan. If they have no job to do and cannot prove their economic value, they are culled. The Chinese have a saying: “Working like an ox and a horse”, which means working hard in a lowly position. However, work for the horse is getting harder to come by. With modernization of rural areas, pastoralists prefer to ride motorcycles to round up flocks of sheep, and ethnic minorities keep fewer horses than they used to in the light of the rising cost of living and government policies. It is no longer a common sight to see horses in the pastoral areas in the north-western and south-western border regions.

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