Equestrian is not as popular as some of the core sports in The Bahamas, but it is on the move, and Bahamian show jumper Marcus Davis is headed to the renowned Spruce Meadows, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is set to participate in the ‘National’ CSI 5* presented by Rolex from June 5-9.
The competition is on the ‘A’ Circuit, that sees some of the top equestrian riders from around the world trying to qualify for the Olympics. The next Olympics is set for Friday, July 24 to Sunday, August 9 August, 2020, in Tokyo, Japan.
This will be Davis’ first time competing in a level five tournament and at Spruce Meadows.
He will be starting at 1.20 meters (m) – 3’ 11-1/4”). As time goes by, he will go up to 1.25m (4’ 1-1/4”) or directly to 1.30m (4’ 3-1/4”).
“I feel very excited and fortunate to be able to have an opportunity to compete and travel to such a professional and well-known equestrian facility,” said Davis. “That excitement comes with a bit of nerves, but I am very hopeful that my experience will be a memorable one.”
The aspiring Olympian currently rides a mare named ‘Viekie’, owned by IsoTropic Network out of the United States of America.
Bonnie Davis, his mother, said that her husband Errol Davis and her are both thrilled for him.
“It is the pinnacle of riding, to go into Spruce Meadows, and that he is good enough to go can actually open up the sport here more. It can let others know that it is doable for other kids. Once the country comes online, you will see more Bahamians be able to compete away,” she said.
The show jumper said he has tried other sports but he chose this sport because it is both exciting and exhilarating.
Currently, he is coached by Canadian Olympian Amy Millar in Ontario, Canada. He trains with an equestrian club called Team Millar at Millar Brooke Farm. Millar is the daughter of 10-time Olympian Ian Millar, who is also a coach at the club.
“Marcus is a very talented young man. He has been coming to us to ride during the summer since he was 15 or 16-years-old. He focuses on his school during the winter but even after not riding for long periods of time he is able to get on a horse and accomplish many things that take a lot of other riders years to perfect,” said Coach Amy Miller. “Marcus is a fierce competitor, he comes alive when he is at the horse show, enjoys competition and gets better in a competitive environment. Horses love him, and they want to do good things for him to make him happy. Eliciting this response in a horse is a gift. He has what we call a great ring mentality, he is better in competition than in practice, and this makes it easy for him to succeed.”
“I expect him to win ribbons as he always does. I am hoping for a bunch of top three finishes in his division. As I said, he has a great ring mentality and he has an experienced horse, so I expect the two of them to go to Spruce Meadows, perform well and create results.”
Davis is currently a freshman at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in the Honors Program in Applied Economics. Davis attended St. Andrew’s International School up to grade nine, before leaving for Trinity College in Port Hope, Ontario, to complete his high school education.
The 18-year-old has been active in the sport since he was five years old when his parents owned a horse named ‘Teddy’. At that time, Hailey Davis, his older sister, was also using the horse. He was coached locally by Kimberly Johnson at the club Lucky Star.
Show jumping involves a lot of practice and Marcus Davis said he is out practicing every day.
“Training includes riding the horses everyday, both flatting, which does not include jumping, and then jumping itself. Training includes jump schooling different courses at the farm and practicing different exercises for both the rider and the horse to demonstrate in a show ring. This can include counting of strides because a rider must be able to memorize and perform certain strides and certain distances between obstacles to avoid faults which is knocking rails down and for the safety of the pair. Also, you have to allow a horse to get the feel of having a certain amount of strides, strides meaning a horses movement or footsteps at a fast speed,” he said.
Bonnie Davis said it’s a struggle because of the expense here and away but added that her son is close to finding sponsors.
“We have a boarding and a lease fee that we pay toward the owner of the horse because we don’t own the horse. There are overhead fees at Millar Brooke’s that includes care-taking of the horse and coaching. When you get at this level you have to start looking for sponsorships, but you have to be at a certain level for sponsors to come on board. We are at that cusp where we are starting down that road. That is our game plan – to look for international sponsors to come on board,” Bonnie Davis said.
Amy Millar said that the younger Davis is riding very well, and he only needs the backing to get a horse to do the higher jumps to get to that elite category.
“Marcus is now riding well enough that he needs a horse that can jump the big jumps. We need to work on getting him the backing to acquire one of these elite animals and then he needs to balance school and riding in a way that gives him more practice time. If he does that he will be on his way to tournaments that young riders use as a stepping-stone to international competitions.” Amy Millar said.
She added that with the financial backing, the sky is the limit for him.
“Being trained by the Millars is an amazing opportunity for me. I’m training among Olympic riders as well as with an Olympic veteran, Ian Millar who at 72 years of age has represented Canada at, I believe 10 Olympics being the only athlete in the world to do so, and my other coaches being at the professional level, have represented both Canada and the United States at either the Olympics or high level competition. It is such a great opportunity. I am so fortunate and blessed to have, because I not only learn and is taught by Olympians but I am able to observe, help and gain skills from people who are considered the best of the best in the equestrian world,” Marcus Davis explained.
This opportunity at Spruce Meadows is an important step in his young career. He is hoping to work on his riding ability and increase his jumping level from 1.20m to 1.60m (5’ 3”), the Olympics height.
For now, he is looking forward to having a great experience, learning different techniques and being recognized for partnerships and sponsorships.
Jump Line – Davis is hoping to work on his riding ability and increase his jumping level
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism