The Gold-Medal winning North American Team in the Team Jumpers Event at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires shows the changing complexion of Equestrian Sport: Team members were from Mexico, Haiti, Panama, Honduras, and the USA. Photo Credit: IOC

Equestrians Address Diversity in Sports

Against the backdrop of civil unrest being played out across North America in recent weeks, questions about underlying ideals and values and systemic discrimination are being raised… not only regarding race, but also in gender and in other forms. Athletes in various sports have spoken out on this topic. Last week, Equestrian Bahamas participated in a virtual Zoom discussion about diversity and inclusion in horse sports which was hosted by Heels Down Magazine.

The discussion featured four Black equestrians who shared their experiences as horseback riders in America, and their ideas on improving diversity and inclusion in the sport. The panelists represented a cross-section of Black participants in equestrian sport, including an amateur rider; an agricultural entrepreneur with over 15 years horse experience in reproduction and barn management; a successful trainer and activist, and a professional Grand Prix rider.

Mrs. Bonnie Davis, Secretary-General of Equestrian Bahamas, participated in the Zoom discussion and described it as “an eye-opening experience”. One hot topic of discussion was the financial constraints which pose a major challenge for Equestrian athletes from all small island nations, particularly athletes aiming to compete at the highest levels. These challenges can be met through stronger support at the corporate levels.  During the panel discussion Davis addressed the issue of sponsorship, noting that, “Many of the large equestrian clothing companies, for example, have limited diversity…how do we change this mindset?”

Davis’ son, Marcus Davis, is an aspiring Bahamian equestrian who embodies the modern diversity of the sport. Marcus began riding at age 7 with local instructor Kimberly Johnson. He later moved to Canada to pursue his academic and equestrian goals. A Senior at Queens University studying Applied Economics, Marcus trains with world-renowned trainers Amy Millar and Alex Grayton at Millar Brooke Farms in Perth, Ontario. His goal is to qualify for and represent The Bahamas in the upcoming Pan-American Games.

“The values of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity are embedded in the Mission and Core Values of the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body of Equestrian Sport,” noted Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre, President of Equestrian Bahamas. “Equestrian is already the highest-ranked sport in the world regarding gender equality. On the world stage, national Equestrian Federations are now focused on achieving the same degree of equity and inclusion with regards to race, not only in principle but in practice. Here in The Bahamas, we are proud to participate in a sport where race is not an issue. Gender is not an issue. As a Federation we are about promoting the principles and values of responsibility, sportsmanship, and ethical competition while enjoying the bond between rider and horse. Our mandate is inclusion – a sport for all.”

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Reine Pagliaro - 2019 North American Endurance Champion

Bahamian Rider Qualifies for World Championships

Bahamian rider Reine Pagliaro qualified for the 2021 Young Rider World Endurance Championships in Ermelo, The Netherlands, when she finished her second 120km/75 mile Endurance race at the Fun in the Sun Endurance competition held at Williston, FL, from March 13-15, 2020.

Reine and her mount, Beautiful Knightmare, a 10-year old Arabian gelding owned by Mary Kathryn and Peggy Clark of Eatonton, Georgia, added a First FEI Young Rider 2* level competition to their list of accomplishments. In November 2019, the pair swept the Young Rider division by winning the 2019 North American Endurance Championship event and the overall 2019 USEF North American Endurance Championship title. In 2018, Reine rode the Clarks’ Gaila Whisper and their JG Btash in two 80km/50 mile events, finishing as the highest-placed FEI Young Rider in both races.

Endurance is one of eight Equestrian Disciplines contested on the international level. It is a long-distance competition against the clock, testing the speed and endurance of a horse and challenging the rider over their effective use of pace, thorough knowledge of their horse’s capabilities and ability to cross all kinds of terrain. An Endurance course is divided into phases, with a compulsory halt for a veterinary inspection after each.
Pagliaro, who is 16 years old, is Bahamian but lives and trains in the USA. Her successful qualification for the Young Rider World Championships means that The Bahamas will be represented in this event for the first time ever.

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(L-R) -Back row: Nicholas Astwood, Erika Adderley (National Coach), Elle O'Brien.  Front Row: Kimberly Johnson (national coach); Maya Tilberg, Mila Sands, Peyton Wong, Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre (President, Equestrian Bahamas and Team Chef d'Equipe)

Team Bahamas Rocks at IEA Invitational

Congratulations to the riders and coaches of Team Bahamas on their fantastic showing this past weekend at the IEA International Invitational in Conyers, Georgia. The team of 5 riders placed in 7 out of the 8 classes competed in, with results as follows:

Open Equitation Over Fences – Elle O’Brien – 6th place
Intermediate Equitation Under Saddle – Peyton Wong – 1st place
Intermediate Equitation Over Fences – Peyton Wong – 3rd place
Novice Equitation Over Fences – Mila Sands – 1st place
Novice Equitation Under Saddle – Mila Sands – 2nd place
Junior Varsity Beginner Equitation Walk, Trot, Canter – Maya Tilberg – 1st place
Junior Varsity Beginner Equitation Walk, Trot – Nicholas Astwood – 1st place

Congratulations also to Mila Sands who was the recipient of a full scholarship to a week-long summer camp programme at Chatham Hall school, a prestigious boarding school in Virginia!

Thanks to all the parents, friends and family members who came out to Conyers to support the team. The Bahamian flag was in full effect!

Congratulations again to the riders and coaches on their achievements. Stay tuned for developments as we continue to develop our partnership with the IEA. The best is yet to come!

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Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Welcomes Bahamas Youth Riders to Conyers for International Invitational

The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) along with the Bahamas Interschool Equestrian League (BIEL) – a division of Equestrian Bahamas recently held a selection trial in December in the Bahamas to select the top five Bahamian youth riders to compete at the IEA Hunt Seat Regional Finals in Conyers, Georgia on Saturday, February 15, 2020. The invitational competition, which is being held in conjunction with the IEA Zone 4/Region 1 Finals at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, marks the first time in its 18-year history that IEA has invited riders outside of the United States to compete with their riders. IEA is a national equestrian organization for riders in grades 4-12 with more than 14,500 members in 46 states. IEA utilizes a unique draw-based approach to competition whereby riders do not need to own a horse, but rather are given an unfamiliar mount and tack on which they compete with little to no warm-up time or practice.

President of Equestrian Bahamas, Catherine Ramsingh-Pierre, whose son is an alumnus of IEA and rode on the Carriage Hill Farms IEA Team, contacted IEA Co-founder and Executive Director, Roxane Durant over a year-ago to discuss ideas on collaboration between the two organizations. Durant, along with IEA Zone Captain and Zone 4 Administrator, Simon Towns, traveled to Nassau in December to help conduct the Selection Trials and to learn more about the unique BIEL program. Durant and Towns, along with other IEA personnel, will be attending the International Invitational in Conyers this weekend.

“Equestrian Bahamas is excited that our high school equestrian athletes have been granted this tremendous opportunity to compete in the IEA International Invitational. As Bahamians we consider it an honor to be the first country outside the U.S. to be invited to participate in IEA competition,” stated Ramsingh-Pierre. “Hopefully this is just the first step in a long-lived partnership!”

“We are thrilled to be able to have this opportunity to expand outside of our U.S. boundaries and to witness the enthusiasm and talent of these young riders in the Bahamas,” stated Durant. “IEA has always been open to the idea of expanding our programs to include other countries and we look forward to hosting BIEL riders this week in Georgia.”

The following top five riders in grades 9-12 from the Bahamas have been selected to participate as a team in the first ever IEA International:

· Peyton Wong – Queens College Team, coached by Kimberly Johnson
· Elle O’Brien – Windsor School Team, coached by Erika Adderley-Coello
· Mila Sands – Queens College Team, coached by Kimberly Johnson
· Maya Tilberg – Saint Augustine’s College Team, coached by Kimberly Johnson
· Nicholas Astwood – Tambearly School, coached by Erika Adderley-Coello


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1. Eight riders participated in the Selection Trials to represent Team Bahamas in the first ever IEA International Invitational. L-R: Hannah D’Aguilar, Peyton Wong, Elle O’Brien, Alexis Neymour, Taylor Haines, Nicholas Astwood, Mila Sands and Maya Tilberg stand with Roxane Durant, President and Co-Founder of the U.S-based Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA)

Making Strides – Equestrian Bahamas Selects First Riding Team

Eight young riders made their way into Bahamian sports history last week by participating in the Selection Trials Competition held by Equestrian Bahamas at Mariposa Riding Club. The riders competed for the chance to represent The Bahamas at the first ever IEA International Invitational competition, to be hosted by the U.S.-based Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) in Conyers, Georgia, in February 2020.

Last week’s competition was historic in several respects. For the first time in over 30 years The Bahamas held a qualifying event for an international equestrian competition. It also marked the first time that riders from outside the United States have been invited to compete in an IEA competition. Now in its 18th year, the IEA has over 14,000 members across the United States riding and coaching Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. On hand to observe the proceedings were IEA Founder Roxane Durant, and Simon Towns, IEA Zone Captain and Zone 4 Administrator.

The eight riders competing for the honour to represent The Bahamas were Nicholas Astwood, Hannah D’Aguilar, Taylor Haines, Alexis Neymour, Elle O’Brien, Mila Sands, Maya Tilberg and Peyton Wong.

The competition was held in a three-phase format, two rounds of jumping over fences and one round where the riders’ positions and techniques were tested ‘on the flat’. The Judge was Linda Mancini, a USEF R-rated Judge from Warwick, New York. Riders rode a different, randomly selected horse in each phase of the competition and was awarded a score from 0 to 100. When the cumulative totals of each rider’s three scores were announced, the five finalists were Mila Sands, Elle O’Brien, Nicholas Astwood, Maya Tilberg and Peyton Wong.

Equestrian Bahamas President Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre thanked the IEA representatives who were on hand for the event. “Their presence was an inspiration for our riders, who performed at a very high standard under great pressure.” she said. “Accolades are due to all eight riders, and particularly the five Finalists who made the team and will represent us in Georgia in 2020. Congratulations also to our coaches Erika Adderley and Kimberly Johnson for the wonderful job they are doing.”

Simon Towns, Administrator of IEA Zone 4 which will host the IEA International Invitational, complimented the Bahamian riders and coaches, saying, “The support and friendship shared by all was palpably evident…I am thrilled to host the first international show event between our two organizations, and look forward to a bright future for our young equestrians.”

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Bahamas Olympic Committee Vice President Dorian Roach and Windsor School Equestrian Coach Erika Adderley with the victorious Windsor School team. L-R: Alexis Neymour, Anton Gottberg, Katarina Coello, Isabella Coello, Elle O’Brien.

Windsor School Triumps At BIEL League Show

Seven teams competed in the second show of this year’s Bahamas Interschool Equestrian League (BIEL) series, with the Windsor School Team emerging as victors for the first time since last year October.

The competition was held at Mariposa Stables and was judged by USEF R-rated judge Linda Mancini of Warwick, New York. At the end of an exciting day riders and coaches settled down to listen as Judge Mancini gave a clinic aimed at improving rider performance. Referring to her notes and even to specific riders and horses, Mancini reminded the competitors of the importance of mental preparation and gave tips on how to catch (and keep) the judge’s attention in a crowded field of competitors. She reviewed scoring rules and emphasized the importance of focusing on the details.

After the judge’s clinic it was time for the presentation of awards! The results were as follows:
1st place – Windsor School
2nd place – Lyford Cay International School
3rd place – Queens College
4th place – St. Augustine’s College
5th place – St. Andrew’s School Team A
6th place – Tambearly School
7th place – St. Andrew’s School Team B

The Bahamas Interschool Equestrian League was founded by Equestrian Bahamas to make Equestrian sport accessible to all young Bahamians by offering competition opportunities in a collegiate format at no cost to riders. The League is now in its third year and continues to grow. Derron Donaldson, Secretary-General of the Bahamas Olympic Committee, and Dorian Roach, Vice-President of the Bahamas Olympic Committee, were on hand to present awards to the successful teams.

Riders, coaches and parents listened attentively as Judge Linda Mancini (far right) gave a clinic on performance optimization.
Riders, coaches and parents listened attentively as Judge Linda Mancini (far right) gave a clinic on performance optimization.

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Princeton Equestrian League 2018-2019 Finalists and their equine partners proudly accept their awards.
L-R: Trade Secret, Riley Harper (Finalist), Hannah D’Aguilar (Finalist), Kimberly Johnson (Trainer),
Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre (Equestrian Bahamas President), Kokopelli’s Dance, Sienna Tinker (Finalist),
Linda Mancini (Show Judge), Casino Royale, Erika Adderley (Trainer), Elle O’Brien (Finalist), Valhalla,
Sara Gottberg (Finalist).

Equestrians win big in the Princeton Equestrian League

Spectators at the Mariposa Holiday Horse Show last Saturday got a special treat when Judge Linda Mancini stepped down from the judge’s booth to present awards to riders who placed as Finalists in the 2019 Princeton Equestrian League. Finalists were awarded certificates and rosettes as well as prizes bearing the Princeton Equestrian League logo.

The Princeton Equestrian League is dedicated to providing high quality competitions for Hunter, Jumper and Equitation riders. The league provides an opportunity for members to compete throughout the year and qualify for the prestigious Princeton Equestrian League National Finals at Princeton Show Jumping in Skillman, New Jersey.

“Equestrian Bahamas is proud to partner with the Princeton Equestrian League,” said Federation President Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre. “Our members who joined the PEL had the opportunity to rank their performance at our shows head to head with riders in shows from all over the United States. Their success is proof of the quality of riding here in the country.”

The Finalists were as follows:

  • Sara Gottberg- Champion (Children’s Equitation 3’)
  • Sienna Tinker – 3rd place (Cross Rails Equitation)
  • Riley Harper and Camperdown Equestrian Centre’s Trade Secret – 4th place (Leapfrog Jumpers)
  • Hannah D’Aguilar and Camperdown Equestrian Centre’s Trade Secret – 4th place (Itty Bitty Jumpers)
  • Elle O’Brien/ Lila Cafferata – 5th place tie (Children’s/Adult Medal 2’6”)
  • Lila Cafferata and Erika Adderley’s Casino Royale – 5th place (Pre-Children’s Jumper) Emma Johnston – 6th place (Mini-Stirrup Equitation)
  • Elle O’Brien and Erika Adderley’s Valhalla – 7th place (Pre-Children’s Jumper)
  • Sienna Tinker and Camperdown Equestrian Centre’s Kokopelli’s Dance – 8th place (Cross Rails Hunter)

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