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Riding ahead with steadfast faith – Bee Chan
Riding ahead with steadfast faith – Bee Chan
Bee Chan
Bee Chan
Chief Riding Instructor of HKJC’s Public Riding Schools

Given how volatile today’s social climate can be, it may be hard to convince anyone that “hard work always pays off”. Nevertheless, 20 years ago, Bee Chan, then a warehouse keeper, was already a firm believer in “realising opportunities through hard work”.

Now Chief Riding Instructor of the HKJC’s Public Riding Schools, Bee Chan, known fondly to many as “Bee Sir”, became a stables assistant by chance. Having faith in his abilities, Bee gave every task his best effort – and it was already enough to open doors for him. He soared over one hurdle after another, moving from stable to horseback, then onward to international equestrian events, and finally taking the helm as the first Chinese Chief Riding Instructor at the Club.

Joining the stables for career opportunities at HKJC

Having graduated in the 1990s with a HKCEE certificate, Bee has worked a number of odd jobs from warehouse keeper and merchandiser to bookkeeper. While seemingly without purpose, he explained: “As I explored my interests, I kept reminding myself that if I worked hard and remained focused, opportunities would come knocking.” Bee was a model employee not only in that he was hardworking, but he was always looking beyond the present and had an eye for detail. By then, Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry had started to dwindle, and Bee’s employer – where he was a bookkeeper – was also affected. “Because I was responsible for the books, I saw the numbers keep dipping into the red. I became worried about the company and my own future. I thought, ‘It’s time to find my next job!’”

It so happened that Bee’s brother-in-law, who was working for the Club, asked him to come to work at the stables. Bee had no knowledge of or interest in horses, but after carefully studying the career path and training opportunities, he learnt that the job offered the potential of a lucrative career. Bee, who considers himself to be more “muscles than brain”, thought that interacting with horses – which involves the outdoors and working out, both of which he liked – was better than calling up clients daily to settle invoices. He decided to take the plunge, and so began a lifelong bond with horses.

Bee’s motto is: “Opportunities come only to the hardworking.” He wishes that more of today’s youth were of like mind.
Since joining the stables 20 years ago, Bee has been inseparable from the horses.
A first-time ride, a life-long career

Bee became a stables assistant in 1994 and was put in charge of caring for the horses’ daily needs. A year into the job, he applied for HKJC’s Instructor Training Programme and was accepted on the merit of his dedication, ambition and sense of duty. Bee remembers the moment fondly: “This first-time ride turned into a life-long career.” Such was Bee’s talent in horse-riding that many instructors and experienced riders advised him to get an instructor’s license and to pursue this career path. In 1996, after starting as a riding instructor trainee, Bee flew to England to receive 6-months’ training in riding, where he also took an examination with the British Horse Society (BHS) to become a recognised assistant instructor. Bee remains quite humble about his achievements: “I never set out to become an instructor. The learning process taught me to get along with horses – the better I understood their temperament, the more responsive I was in the saddle; the longer I rode, the more curious I became about horses. This was what drove me forward.”

Bee is thankful for the countless opportunities the HKJC has given him, as these are what have helped to make him into who he is today.
With conviction, anything is possible

Bee is not just professionally qualified, he is also an equestrian athlete. “The Hong Kong Equestrian Federation nominated me to compete on behalf of Hong Kong; the Club also encourages riding instructors to join equestrian performances and competitions. I told myself, ‘It never hurts to try.’” In just ten years’ time, as a representative of the Hong Kong team, he competed in the National Games, the 1998 Asian Games, the Equestrian World Cup at New Delhi, and the 2010 Asian Games. During this period, he also passed the BHSII certification. Being both instructor and athlete, Bee has a deep understanding of the time and effort that go into each competition, and he admits this had, in some way, affected his duties as an instructor. “Participating in competitions requires commitment. Every time I had to train just to qualify for a competition, then I had to spend at least half a year overseas on preparations and training. Meanwhile, I had commitments to my work, my students and my family, and they take priority; I couldn’t simply leave them. There have been lot of difficult decisions over the years.” Later on, Bee shifted the focus to his work as instructor, continuing to help the Hong Kong Equestrian Team to excel on the international stage, including assuming the role of the Hong Kong team instructor during the 2008 Beijing Paralympic games.

In 2013, Bee reached another milestone in his career – he passed the BHS examination for senior riding instructor, the first in Hong Kong and China and the second in Asia to be award the certification. In the following year, he was appointed Chief Riding Instructor at the HKJC, becoming the Club’s first Chinese Chief Riding Instructor.

Horses as the way to understanding people

Now, Bee’s work mainly involves teaching equestrianism and overseeing the stables at three of the Club’s Public Riding Schools, as well as training and monitoring the health of the horses. In dealing with everything from horses to people, Bee has his equine friends to thank for teaching him to be a better person. “I used to be rather self-centred, never conceding to anything. This doesn’t work on horses. If I push a horse too hard, it may get hurt or become resentful to training. There were times when I thought a horse was being disobedient, but it was simply that I did not understand them well enough.” From horses, Bee has learnt empathy and communication, gifting him with the ability to see past the surface and learn how his staff think, which has allowed him to better communicate with them.

According to Bee, riding is a healthy sport suitable for all ages, and his students range from 6 to 60. Besides teaching them riding, he is passionate about teaching them to care for and respect horses.
Representing Hong Kong, Bee has participated in various major international and local equestrian events.

This professional career with horses has shaped Bee’s life in significant ways – he has found his conviction in the value of hard work. “Never before has a Hongkonger assumed the title of Chief Riding Instructor. I had thought it unattainable, but my experience taught me that with hard work, opportunities will deliver themselves to you. I was lucky to meet people who believed in me, and their trust helped me to cement my conviction.”

Tuen Mun Public Riding School
Website: //campaign.hkjc.com/en/Equestrian/tm-intro.aspx
Email: riding.tm@hkjc.org.hk
Telephone: 2461 3338

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