The Bahamas Interscholastic Equestrian League (BIEL) swung back into action last weekend, holding a show at Mariposa Stables. A total of four teams comprised of 20 young riders from different schools participated in the competition, which was won by the Mariposa Gold Drops.
Finishing second was the Mariposa Monarchs. The Camperdown Equestrian Centre (CEC) Sand Dollars and the CEC Blue Marlins, both hampered by the fact that they were short a rider, placed third and fourth, respectively.
Founded in 2017, the BIEL have staged competitions that have been a perennial favorite among junior riders because of the team emphasis and the unique format, based on collegiate competition rules, in which riders and horses are matched by random draw.
“The horse draw is exciting,” said Hannah Ritchie, a member of the CEC Sand Dollars team. “It’s a challenge to ride a totally unfamiliar horse in the show ring.”
Equestrian Bahamas President Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre expressed relief that the BIEL shows are continuing to draw interest from riders.
“BIEL was formed as part of our mandate to provide affordable competitions on a leveled playing field for all riders. Last year we partnered with the US-based Interscholastic Equestrian League (IEA) with great success but, unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, this partnership is in hiatus. So, we are continuing to hold the shows at the local level only, but with the same spirit of teamwork and sportsmanship. It’s nice to see that the trainers and athletes continue to buy into the concept.”
Last year, 14 riders qualified through BIEL competitions to ride at the IEA Zone 4 Finals in Tryon, North Carolina, with four riders winning ribbons and one – Ella Saidi – qualifying to ride at the National Finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, ultimately placing second.
“We hope to be able to work with the IEA again at some point,” Ramsingh-Pierre said. “In the meantime, the federation continues to actively explore opportunities to expose our athletes to international competition.”
The Bahamas Interscholastic Equestrian League stages a series of three competitions, culminating in a national championship. The next BIEL competition will be held at Camperdown Equestrian Centre in February, 2023.