|The Hequ horse is one of China's largest indigenous breeds and is prized for its riding, racing and drafting abilities. (Photo/ China Daily)|
Bred on grasslands by the Yellow River, they are one of the largest of China's indigenous horses. Alexis Hooi rides the prized Hequ horse deep in the Tibetan highland area of Gansu province.
My heart beats faster as my breath gets shorter. The scenery around me whizzes past into a blur and adds to the dizziness. I am nearly 4,000 meters above sea level and suffering from a mild case of altitude sickness. But I am also on a high riding the legendary Hequ steed, one of China's few indigenous horses, through the expansive alpine grasslands of Maqu county, deep in the Gannan Tibet autonomous prefecture of Gansu province.
The Tibetan herdsmen laugh as I gallop through their flocks of sheep and yak. "Slow down and be careful of those marmot holes!" one of them shouts to me.
The herdsmen are justifiably proud of their horses and watch out for them constantly.
Their Hequ horses spring from the area that borders Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces near the "first major bend" of the mighty Yellow River.
At heights of more than 13 hands or 1.32 meters, the Hequ horse is one of China's largest indigenous breeds and is prized for its riding, racing and drafting abilities.