Opportunities for equestrian sport in the Bahamas are set to grow as the country faces “exciting times” since its national federation was recognised by the FEI.
Equestrian Bahamas joined the FEI at the end of 2019 so riders can now compete in FEI events under the Bahamian flag. The federation is aiming to expand the grassroots sport as well as developing elite riders with aims of taking part in future Pan American and Olympic Games.
Equestrian Bahamas president Catherine Ramsingh-Pierre told H&H joining the FEI was one of the main objectives when the federation was founded in 2014.
“Bahamians are attracted to equestrian sport but there is a perception it is only ‘for the few’, in part because pursuing the sport on an island is very expensive,” she said. “Changing perception and making the sport more accessible is one of the most important challenges facing us.
“We look forward to working with the FEI to develop equestrian sport, and by partnering with other federations in the Caribbean and Pan-American region which face many of the same challenges that we do.”
Ms Ramsingh-Pierre said the country hopes to facilitate affordable and accessible opportunities at grassroots level through expansion of an inter-school riding programme. A group of children represented the country for the first time in February at the United States’ Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s (IEA) international invitational, a youth competition featuring equation and showjumping classes, in Georgia.
“We plan to expand our interscholastic programme, and are redesigning this to become affiliated with the IEA,” she said. “The program will provide meaningful, quality competitive opportunities at lower levels for aspiring school-age riders.”
Ms Ramsingh-Pierre added the federation hopes to improve the level of technical expertise and training across coaching, course designing and stewarding – as well as helping develop the country’s elite riders including Reine Pagliaro, 16, who has qualified for the 2021 young rider endurance World Championships.
Bahamian showjumper Anna Camille Vlasov, who is based in France with Gilles Bertran de Balanda, told H&H it is an “exciting time”. Ms Vlasov competed under Great Britain in France, as she has a British passport, but switched to the Bahamas once the federation was recognised by the FEI.
“I’m thrilled to be a pioneer of the Bahamas competing internationally,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the progress of the sport and I hope this is an opportunity for future generations.”
A spokesman for the FEI told H&H Equestrian Bahamas may now apply for the FEI Solidarity programme, which aims to provide assistance to develop the sport from grassroots to elite level.
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