By Neto Baptiste
Despite battling a myriad of issues affecting the growth of the sport here, the Antigua and Barbuda Horse Society is hoping to field a team of riders at the Martinique Equestrian Championships slated for late February.
This is according to president of the body, Janie Easton, who said that they are in the process of finalising the list of riders that will represent the twin-island state but confirmed that Canada-based professional, Jane Jack, will lead the squad.
“We have, I think, about three or four going and we were having more but it is very expensive to get to Martinique these days. We’ve had to teach all of our riders to be able to ride anything and to be very calm and cool about it, and it’s quite amazing that you can put a child on a completely new horse and they have about 10 minutes to practice, jump a couple of jumps and then they go in and compete. We have frequently won or being highly placed riding against people on their own horses,” she said.
Equestrian, not the most popular sport on island, has had its struggles over the past few years, according to Easton, with a lack of adequate horses and riders along with insufficient funding at the top of the list.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo sports show at the time, Easton said attendance had heightened during the pandemic but has since dwindled once more.
“We did actually pick up quite a few pupils during Covid because it was a sport where you’re outside, you’re not near anybody and we did pick up some young riders which was really nice. Unfortunately, since Covid finished and schools are trying to catch up, it’s very hard for people to get out and have enough time after school to ride these days and, unfortunately, we don’t have that many adults,” the president said.
A number of the country’s top riders are based in the US and Canada with Easton reminding that they only qualify for funding through the NOC if they compete in qualifiers for the Olympic or Pan Am Games.