Tell us about yourself and your riding career
Although I began riding aged 11, I don’t recall life before ponies! I’ve always lived in Cheltenham and was lucky enough to have a passionate mum and riding schools close by. When I started secondary school, my mum Claire agreed to venture into horse ownership and Bella entered my life after scouring through the adverts in horse magazines! Our 13.2 bombproof Welsh cross was a great place to start but had no desire to compete: unlike me! Getting competitive in British Showjumping with a super second pony, River, was a real step up and I thrived on the challenge with the help of local coaches. At this time, I discovered my love of cross country which ultimately led me to Eventing. In 2012, having sourced horses from Ireland alongside Joanne Holder in the Cotswolds we entered my first event on a wobbly sharp young horse called Billy. Little did I know, he would have what it takes to rise up the levels with me for the next 10 years and represent Jamaica with me.
What is Cool Ridings about?
Cool Ridings celebrates and supports riders that could represent developing nations in equestrian sport. Gaining dual nationality and representing Jamaica was a real turning point for me. Since I started my mum would remind me that ‘everyone’s journey is different’ on tough days eventing that didn’t go to plan. Resilience and self-belief is essential. Distributing opportunities in our community to attend training and work with sponsors that stand with us has been powerful. Not everyone has role models that they resonate with in the equestrian world, and I hope that won’t remain the case much longer. Time is of the essence when it comes to increasing diversity in our sport both in and out of the saddle and working with events like BPIHT will be inspirational to many.
How did you come to start Cool Ridings?
In 2020 I decided to document the outreach activities I began three years prior as a Mentor at Ebony Horse Club. I was thoroughly inspired by the riders that were in awe of the fact I represented Jamaica, unaware that was even possible! Celebrating passionate riders of the future has increased the confidence of many and instilled a sense of belonging. Through Cool Ridings young people are able to see themselves in the sport which I believe is key to ensuring that eventing has the bright future it deserves. None of this would be possible without our inspirational, approachable members celebrating all cultures and being so committed.
How is Cool Ridings going to be involved in BPIHT?
Attending BPIHT will be a thrilling and educational experience for 12 Members of Cool Ridings who all own horses and enjoy a variety of disciplines. This alignment has enabled members to meet up, enhance their knowledge and witness the beauty of Blenheim amongst people they resonate with. Everyone looks forward to hearing from seasoned professionals during the course walk that has been kindly organised.
What is your aim for Cool Ridings in the future?
We need to address an array of factors to attract talent from all backgrounds. Equestrian life is special in so many ways and creating initiatives to make it more accessible and enticing is a focus. Pathways into competing in the Olympic equestrian disciplines are not effective for all; Cool Ridings receives a range of enquiries and will remain a point of contact for underrepresented riders. Our action plan is ambitious with elements that will allow members to unite and train from a base, learning from experts and one another each day.