Golden Hill Riding Academy
Jin Hyun Kwon is a long-time trainer here at LAEC, but his story begins over 30 years ago in his home country of Korea. “I had a friend who showed me his horse at a stable in the city where I was born, and I became fascinated with horses and horseback riding then,” Jin recounts. “I began riding at 13, and with support from my parents, I took horseback riding very seriously and wanted to become a professional rider. I began showing and touring at age 14, first in Korea, and then later on more than a few occasions, I showed at international competitions in Japan, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. Horseback riding was not a common sport in Korea in the 70s. Just a handful of riders were able to compete in national and international competitions. I was one of the lucky ones.”
However, Jin eventually found his way to California and made his training home here at LAEC. “In the early 90s I visited Los Angeles for the first time in my life, and I realized that horseback riding is a very common sport, especially Western riding, here on the West Coast,” Jin explains. “I also saw there are many Korean-Americans here, to whom I could show the beauty of horseback riding. Most Korean people have never had a chance to live near horses, so they all think it is only the privileged ones who can ride horses. I also wanted to work at a place where I could interact with American riders and trainers and get acquainted with the American style of riding. I still travel to Korea at least once or twice a year to see my parents, and also to continue my friendship with Korean colleagues.”
There are some definite differences between showing in Korea and showing in America. “In Korea, there is no hunter competition. Koreans start riding in show jumping and dressage simultaneously in the beginning stage. Then, when they reach a certain level in both disciplines, they choose to become either a dressage rider or a show jumping rider. Unlike so many young riders in America, they don’t get to learn the hunters or equitation. I personally think it is a great way to start horseback riding, because it gives you the foundation of show jumping skills. I am hoping in the near future that I can play a role in introducing the hunter discipline in Korea.”
Throughout his career, Jin has competed at some prestigious competitions and added impressive accomplishments to his resume such as wins at the Korean National Jumping Championship Tournament and the Korean Equestrian Federation Chairman’s Cup Tournament. However, he holds most dear the more personal of these achievements. “I was qualified to compete in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in Show Jumping at the age of 20, and that was, I think, my biggest achievement as a rider. But, personally, I am most proud of becoming a trainer in America, and that I was able to establish my own stable here in LAEC, which is one of the best and biggest training facilities in the USA. It has been 13 years since I first opened my stable at LAEC in 2002. I was the first Asian-American trainer to have done that in USA.”
It’s not by accident that Jin has stayed at LAEC all these years. “LAEC has given me the opportunity to achieve my American dreams,” he says. “So, I am very thankful for that. It is also the biggest facility in the metro LA area, and it represents the best of horseback training. And I am part of that standard.”
Jin can be found in Show Barn 9 here at LAEC.