Having progressed from pony classes to riding with the military, then trail riding to competitive Reining, Peumpoon has become one of the leading practitioners of the discipline in Thailand, and is the proud owner of a stable and riding school two hours west of Bangkok. Now, he is eager to communicate the sport’s excitement with more people – and more young people – throughout the region.
“I like the style and smoothness of Reining, and the way that you’re training a horse to do the job all by yourself,” explains Peumpoon, 34, who runs the stable with his wife.
“We teach both children and adults, and we have seven horses now. But this is still a very limited number to share with all of the people who want to start moving along the path of Reining.”
Indeed, given the logistical problems of importing the breed most suitable to Reining – the American quarter horse – and the prohibitive costs involved, it can be difficult to attract people to what is still a new and localised pursuit in Thailand, with most Reining activity taking place within a small radius of its sprawling capital city.
But now, recognising the burgeoning interest in Reining in Thailand, and the potential for it to spread across the region and continent, the FEI is helping to develop, maintain and sustain this growth as part of its global Solidarity programme.
In September 2016, the country’s first national level FEI Reining Course, focused on coaching and judging, was held at the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in Pattaya, attracting 20 participants. Little more than a year later, nearly twice as many people attended the second course, which sought to raise the level of potential coaches in Thailand so that they have the technical knowledge required to educate riders.
Both of the four-day workshops, which included a mix of theory sessions, video analysis, practical demonstrations and competition environments, were organised in partnership with the Thailand Equestrian Federation (TEF) and delivered by FEI experts Pierre Ouellet (coach) and François Zurcher (judge).
Ouellet saw untapped potential in Thailand despite some localised challenges.
“To start with, it was not very easy in Thailand, because although [the participants] know about horses, they don’t have much knowledge in the western disciplines. So the first workshop was more based on the basic skills in western riding, and how to do the manoeuvres,” he said.
“But there is a lot of good work and willingness that many people are putting into this discipline in Thailand, and we are very proud to help them to start the FEI Reining pathway.”
By the end of the second course, Ouellet had identified seven potential Reining coaches, and has since been in regular correspondence with them, giving them a step-by-step programme to follow ahead of his return to Thailand for the third course in December.
“This time, it will be a lot more based on coaching,” he says. “I will show them how to teach, and how to get the athletes ready for the competitions. After that, they should be able to go on by themselves.”