By Neto Baptiste
It has been a little over six years since the Antigua and Barbuda Horse Society (ABHS) was promised by then minister of sports, EP Chet Greene, that government would move swiftly to renew a lease for five acres of land on which the body currently holds its dressage and show-jumping courses.
According to president of the organisation Janie Easton, the society is still awaiting a signed lease.
“We have a letter of intent from the Cabinet saying they were going to give us a lease but, we never managed to get a legal lease so we just sort of carried on hoping that letter will hold us in good stead. It’s complicated because it’s government land and we’ve rented it since 1974, We’ve put fencing up, we’ve put a marina in and we’ve got stables that are made out of wood, but it is actually agricultural land which has never produced anything. Every farmer that was there said ‘we couldn’t grow anything on that’,” she said.
Greene, in 2017, told the Good Morning Jojo sports show that Cabinet would “most definitely extend the lease” and that he would “impress upon the Attorney General’s office the need to expedite the extension of the lease”.
However, Easton said the major focus now is getting additional horses from outside of Antigua and Barbuda in hopes of replenishing dwindling stock here. An initiative for which government has also pledged assistance.
“I did get a commitment but I don’t know if it will be carried through so we’ll see if we’ll get one horse in but we’ll try and fundraise for another. We’ve been offered some race horses from Hong Kong and they have offered our whole island group if we want a couple of horses they would send them to Miami and then we would just pay for them to come down from Miami,” she said.
The horse society, in January of 2017, were denied a US $50,000 grant from the sport’s international arm, the International Federation of Equestrian (FEI), which would have served to improve the Spring Hill facility and other areas of the sport.