Equestrian Bahamas (EB) is sending its first team to an international event – to the United States of America (USA) to represent The Bahamas in an FEI (International Federation for Equestrian) sanctioned tournament. The Bahamas, through EB, gained FEI status in November of 2019.
Team Bahamas will head to the first ever Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) International Invitational, set for Saturday in Conyers, Georgia.
Earning spots on the team are Mila Sands, Peyton Wong, Nicolas Astwood, Elle O’Brien and Maya Tilberg. The coach is Kimberley Johnson and Erika Adderley-Coello is the trainer.
The team was selected after the Hunt Seat Invitational and Selection Trials back in December 2019.
Wong, the oldest member on the team, has been riding for 13 years. She brings a lot of experience to the team and said their success will be based on a team effort.
“I feel that we equally help each other,” Wong said. “We’re pretty good in different aspects. I hope to keep everyone in good spirits even if we have bad rounds or if something goes wrong. I would hope that we don’t dwell on anything.”
This is the Queen’s College student’s first time traveling to participate in a show although she has traveled before to share experiences with different horses. She admits she is nervous to a degree but is excited to experience the competition. Wong trains at Camperdown Stables in eastern New Providence.
Adderley-Coello believes the team has a good chance of performing well.
“If each individual rider on the team performs as well as he or she can when they are here at home, we expect very good things from them. It will be quality riding, team riding, skilled riding and no problem keeping up with what’s going on over there,” Adderley-Coello said.
This is not the first time that O’Brien has traveled to compete, but this time is expected to be different as she is traveling under the Bahamian flag.
“It is exhilarating. I have gone to a show internationally with my barn but I have not represented The Bahamas so it is a big honor,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien attends Windsor School and trains at Mariposa Barn in western New Providence.
Astwood, 15, is the only male rider on the team. The Tambearly School student said it feels good to represent The Bahamas. He has been riding since 2014.
“It feels pretty good to be competing in a sport that’s more female dominant and especially to be representing The Bahamas,” Astwood said. “I look forward to meeting new people, trying new horses and riding away because I never rode a horse off the island.”
The competition is a Hunt Seat Equitation, which means that unlike show jumping where speed is a factor, scores are given for style and precision of technique. There will be jumping over fences in one class, but also riding on the flat in another. Performing movements as requested by the show judge, style, precision as well as going cleanly over all the jumps, will be taken into account.
Sands was in action over the weekend at the Camperdown Equestrian Center’s Semi-Annual Horse Show. She said training has been coming along well.
“My horse that I own personally is currently off with injury but I have been riding another horse, Double Take. We have been doing quite well. We had a good day yesterday (Saturday) but she was on injury today (Sunday),” Sands said.
The Queen’s College student added that it is a great opportunity for The Bahamas.
“I’m excited to go to meet new people and see their perspective on the sport as well. It is going to be nice as well to see it in a different environment,” said 15-year-old Tilberg.
The St. Augustine’s College (SAC) student said she is very excited to represent her country.
Adderley-Coello hopes that this trip “lights a fire” not just under the riders making the trip but also the ones who are a level under them here at home – they can say they want to do what the others did and represent The Bahamas, said Adderley-Coello.
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.
The team leaves on Thursday and returns on Sunday.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism