Negotiating a career path in the equestrian world has become easier as world-famous training programs tap China's potential.
Obtaining a master's degree is just the first step for Li Xiang to realize her dream of being an equestrian club manager.
The 26-year-old has set her sights on a Dubai International Thoroughbred Internship, a 10-month fully funded training program, which was opened for Chinese applicants last year.
"When I first heard of the Dubai program, I thought it was out of reach but now it is in China," said Li, who has just graduated from China's first postgraduate equine program at Wuhan Business University. "We have a chance to gain world-class experience."
Li's classmate, Shi Jiahui, said the program in the Middle East provides an insight into every aspect of a top operation.
"When we qualified for the postgraduate program (in 2011), we thought it was a big step forward. Now the DITI seems like bigger goal," she said.
Founded by Darley, a world leader in thoroughbred horse racing and breeding, the inaugural program saw 15 Chinese students graduate after getting hands-on experience in horse care, veterinary medicine and equine business skills such as marketing, sales, finance and administration at a stud farm in either Britain, Ireland, Australia, the United States or Japan. Interns also visit Dubai to gain further experience at top racing events.
"The response was excellent," said Matt Hill, training manager for the intern program. "More than 750 Chinese university graduates applied, and we interviewed 109 impressive young people."
Twenty-four fresh graduates from 19 colleges have been selected for the 2013-14 program, which starts in August.
Meanwhile, foreign universities' rich traditions in equine study have extended their reach to China.
The postgrad program in equine science at the Royal Agriculture University in Britain started to enroll students from Wuhan Business University in 2011.
Established in 1992, the RAU's equine department has modules supplemented by a series of talks by leaders in the field and has links with the latest development of the industry.
"By learning from industry insiders in Britain, I've obtained academic and practical knowledge, which I wouldn't have been able to get in China," said Li Xinyu, the first graduate from Wuhan Business University recruited by RAU.
Another two students qualified for the RAU program last year after passing equine tests and interviews.
Xia Yunjian, head of the Wuhan college's sports and equine department, said further cooperation with foreign institutions is yet to come.
"Our program has drawn interest from equestrian powers like Australia and the US," he said. "I believe more international expertise will come to China."
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