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July 31, 2014

Ringside Chat With Georgina Bloomberg: Back In Action

Georgina Bloomberg has made a quick return to the top of the sport just five months after welcoming her son, Jasper. Photo by LGCT/Stefano Grasso

Georgina Bloomberg wasn’t quite sure what to expect when she arrived in Paris to compete in the Longines Global Champions Tour show in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. She was a new mother of a 5-month-old still dusting off her skills after a few months out of the saddle.

Add to that she was nursing a broken finger and a dislocated finger from a fall while jogging a few days before. But on July 6, she rode Juvina into an impressive fourth place in the Longines GCT Grand Prix of Paris, finishing after top names like Kevin Staut, Pius Schwizer and Marcus Ehning. She was also in the top 10 in three other classes in Paris with Juvina and Lilli.

The next week, Bloomberg headed to Falsterbo, Sweden, to represent the United States in the Longines Nations Cup—they placed third.

On Aug. 2, Bloomberg is set to carry the Stars and Stripes into competition again in the Nations Cup in Gijon, Spain. We caught up with her about her quick and remarkable return to top level competition and how life as a mother has changed her.

Read a conversation with Georgina from Sept. 2013, "Now Motherhood Is Georgina Bloomberg's Priority"

Did you expect to do so well in Paris?

Georgina Bloomberg was all smiles after a great show
at the Longines Global Champions Tour in Paris
with Juvina and Lilli (pictured).
Photo by LGCT/Stefano Grasso

It was a really nice surprise to do well. I didn’t really feel prepared for the show—I hadn’t been able to ride for the couple of days before because of my fingers. So I hadn’t been able to school the horses the way I’d want before a big show like that. I almost didn’t go to the show.

I was very happy it went so well because I definitely wasn’t expecting it to! But it all worked out.

What was the horse show like in Paris?

It was so beautiful. The Eiffel Tower was right there. When I was in the ring at one point, I actually kind of got lost on course for a moment because I was staring around at the scenery and how beautiful it was. For the entire weekend, it never got old. Even on the last weekend, I was staring around, thinking, ‘Wow, I cannot believe we get to horse show here.’

When did you get back in the saddle?

[After son Jasper was born on Dec. 24], I took Florida slow; I didn’t start riding until the beginning of March. Juvina makes things very easy for me, so with her, I felt like I could get right back into the ring and do bigger classes. With some of the other horses I didn’t feel as comfortable, so it took a bit longer.

After Florida, I did Old Salem (N.Y.) and Devon (Pa.) in May, and then went to Europe.

I still feel like I’m shaking off the rust a bit at times. It did take a little while. I tried to keep telling myself, ‘It’s fine, it just takes time.’ Now I feel fit and confident and like I’m riding well. But it took me until this summer to feel 100 percent that way.

I stayed fit through the pregnancy and I had a C-section, so it was more about healing. I’m used to working out and riding, so it was tough to sit still and not do anything. And, you can do all kinds of things in the gym, but nothing duplicates riding. There’s nothing you can do to get fit for riding other than get back in the saddle.

I stayed very fit, but it was more knocking off the rust from not being in the ring.

Georgina Bloomberg and Juvina jumping to fourth place
in the Longines Global Champions Tour of Paris Grand Prix.
Photo by LGCT/Stefano Grasso

Tell us about Juvina (a 13-year-old Austrian Warmblood [Cassini I—Juwelessa, Gannus).

She is definitely the best horse I’ve ever sat on. I bought a share in her last winter and had someone else [David Will of Germany] riding her for a few months, then last summer, I took over the ride on her.

I knew I was pregnant and I was only going to have a few months to show. So I got to know her and took her in some big classes and was able to go straight into the grand prix classes because she does it so easily. It makes my job as a rider very easy, the way she goes.

I competed her until the Hampton Classic (N.Y., in September). It was hard, after having such a great show there, to take time off. I’d been searching for a horse like her for so long and I finally had this amazing horse and I had to say, ‘Now I’m taking a few months off.’ But I think it did her a world of good to have some time off, too. She did a lot with her previous owner and lot with me in the few months I rode her. So, it was for the best.

She’s the kind of horse that you can go straight to the grand prix ring with and she’ll jump a clear. She doesn’t need preparation and we rarely jump her at home. She’s naturally careful and she has all the scope, so I just sit there and hope I’m not going to mess things up!

What’s Juvina like to ride?

She’s has a bit of a funny mouth. She likes to throw her head around a lot. In the beginning, that was distracting to me. But I’ve always gotten along well with horses that throw their head. My first junior jumper, Action, threw his head all the time. He had a funny way of going, so I got used to that.

Things like that don’t bother me—if you just ignore it and trust that she’s going to get to the jump and get over it, everything’s fine. You don’t fight with her about her head; I just keep a very still hand and don’t interfere with her mouth. Any time I have a rail, it’s because I’ve gotten in her way with my hand. She tells me to let go and let her do her job. She’s easy in that she has the scope and she’s careful and she jumps beautifully, but she’s not the most traditional, easy ride.

What was your plan for this summer?

I wasn’t sure what would be best for Jasper. I wanted to be in France—my mother lives in Paris during the summer and I wanted to be close to her. So I wanted to find a place where we could have a house and a farm and a real base. We decided to base ourselves in Normandy and we were there for a month and I loved it.

I wanted to do it in a way where Jasper felt comfortable and like he had a base and a home. He’s really enjoyed traveling and coming to horse shows. He’s getting to be a pro at it. It’s nice to have him there.

I have a nanny who works with us full-time and I wouldn’t be able to do it without her. She’s amazing with him and she rides. I’m very lucky to have that.

Making the team for Fasterbo and Gijon changed my plans a little bit. There’s nothing I enjoy more than being on a U.S. team. I’d go anywhere in the world to be on a team and represent the United States. So, for me, as soon as I made those teams, that was a priority and I planned a lot of the summer around them.

In Falsterbo, we were clean in the first round and had a rail in Round 2. It was Juvina’s first rail since May, so she was due one. I can’t blame her and it was definitely my mistake.

We had a great team and a lot of fun. It was my first team appearance in four years and I definitely missed it. I really enjoyed it.

How has life changed since Jasper arrived?

Being a mother definitely changes your life and your world. My riding is very important and I’ve always focused on it, but now he is 100 percent the most important thing in the world to me.

I wouldn’t say it makes the riding less important. But when you have a bad round or things don’t go well, it doesn’t seem as important anymore because I have him to worry about and care for. It changes your perspective. 

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