It has been a year of achievements for Equestrian Bahamas, and this past summer, the federation achieved another milestone by expanding its youth scholastic riding program to partner with the United States-based Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), becoming the first international affiliate in IEA’s history.
Equestrian Bahamas considers it a tremendous honor to have been chosen by the IEA as their first international partner. Both organizations emphasize promoting riding as a sport for all and as a pathway to educational opportunities.
The launch of the partnership was originally scheduled for October 2020, but unfortunately has been postponed until the 2021-2022 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IEA is the largest interscholastic equestrian league in North America with over 14,500 members in 46 states. The Bahamas has been designated Region 13 of IEA Zone 4. That zone covers Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Unfortunately, this exciting development faced a major roadblock with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the IEA competition season already underway in the US, The Bahamas region officials were forced to make a difficult decision to postpone participation until next season.
Local trainers Erika Adderley-Coello, of Mariposa Stables, and Kimberly Johnson, of Camperdown Equestrian Centre, were appointed as region president and region vice president, respectively.
“We were disappointed to have to cancel this year’s participation in the IEA as the new Region 13 due to COVID,” said Adderley-Coello. “We are grateful that IEA officials agreed with us [in] postponing our start to next season.”
Through its affiliation as an IEA region, riders in the Bahamian Interscholastic Equestrian League (BIEL) will travel each year to compete against riders from all over North America. The relationship opens the way to multiple educational opportunities such as access to thousands of dollars in IEA college scholarship awards, and participation in the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Equestrian College Search Program.
One young rider, Mila Sands, has already benefited from the Equestrian Bahamas and IEA partnership. Sands, a 10th-grade student at Queen’s College, was a part of the Bahamian team that rode at the IEA Zone 4 Invitational in Conyers, Georgia, in February. Her stellar performance earned her the Steward’s Award: a fully paid, week-long summer experience at the prestigious Chatham Hall School in Chatham, Virginia. Sands was unable to attend this summer because of the pandemic but was granted an extension to attend in 2021.
Equestrian Bahamas and the IEA continue to share a common mission of promoting equestrian sport to school-age riders and providing competitive and educational opportunities. Riders and coaches look forward to participating in the IEA next year.