Grand prix show jumper Georgina Bloomberg made news at the Hampton Classic (N.Y.) on Sept. 1 when she placed third with Juvina in the $250,000 FTI Consulting Grand Prix while five months pregnant. Bloomberg, 30, and her boyfriend and fellow grand prix rider Ramiro Quintana are expecting a boy around Christmas. The Chronicle’s Molly Sorge caught up with Bloomberg, of New York, to find out about this new phase in her life.
Sorge: So, was this pregnancy a surprise?
Bloomberg: I’ve always wanted to be a mother. [Ramiro and I have] been together on and off for a while and good friends forever. This is something we had both talked about and wanted. It wasn't something we absolutely planned, but it is something we wanted and were prepared for.
The mainstream media definitely focused on your pregnancy, and you got some criticism from the public. Did that bother you?
I know it was controversial, and I knew I’d get criticism for showing at the Hampton Classic. At that horse show in particular, we get so much attention from spectators that don’t know our sport well, so I knew I’d get some comments.
But that wasn’t going to stop me from showing. I was going to listen to my body and be careful and smart about it and continue with as much as I felt comfortable doing.
How did you decide when to stop riding?
During the first trimester I actually felt worse than I do now. It was harder, physically, for me to show in May than it was to show at the Hamptons. I had always said, “If I find out I’m pregnant, I’m going to stop riding.” And then once it happened, I was like, “You know what, I feel good, and I’d like to keep going.”
But obviously, it’s not just a matter of how I feel; it’s a matter of being smart. I tried to make good choices. I feel very safe on Juvina; she can jump anything. She’s not a horse that say, doesn’t jump the water or has a bad spook. Obviously anything can happen, but I feel very safe on her. I just took it week by week.
I knew for sure that the Hampton Classic would be my last show no matter what. That’s a show that’s close to my heart, so I wanted to do it. I still felt fit and healthy enough to do it, but I knew there was no going past that.
I showed all summer in Europe, and when we came back from Europe, the Hampton Classic was still three weeks away. I wanted to stay as fit as possible and keep riding, but when it came down to it, I wanted to be safe. I had both Paul [O’Shea] and Ramiro lined up to ride my young horses if I decided that I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I ended up staying really fit and feeling really good and like I could do it, so I decided to take the chance.
Was it tough to commit to taking the time off from riding?
I had taken a year off to recover from back surgery [in the summer of 2011]. In a way that made me not want to take the time off because I had just gotten back into it. It took me more than a year to get comfortable jumping the grand prix again and build up a string of horses. I have some nice young horses and two nice grand prix horses now, so in that way, it wasn’t great timing.
Before I took the time off for my surgery, I was scared to do it. I was terrified; we get so into showing every week that you forget that there’s a whole world out there. You think that if you stop, you can’t come back.
But for me, it actually ended up being a great thing. I enjoyed the time off and was able to do lots of other things. To be able to step back from the sport and have that break made me—mentally and physically—so much stronger. I really knew this is what I wanted to do, and I really wanted to come back.
Compared to taking the year off for my surgery, this is so much less terrifying. Now I know that I can take some time off, and I know how to come back from it. I’ve proven to myself that if I can recover from that, I can come back from this. It’s not going to be a big deal.
Did you consider the impact of having a child on your career?
With our sport being a year-round sport, taking the time is hard. I also understand that there are a lot of people who aren’t in my [financial] position, who have to make a living to keep going. They aren’t their own bosses and can’t take time off. They might lose a job if they’re not able to ride. I understand it’s different for everyone.
I’ve always wanted to be a mother; it was never a question. I’ve always said that I am very willing to make a lot of sacrifices for my sport and to give it my all, but having kids was always going to be a priority for me. For me, it’s 100 percent worth it. I’m excited to have a child to watch grow and teach things to.
But as much as I’ve always wanted to be a mother, I have a lot of respect for women who make the decision to not have children. Not everybody wants the same things in life. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be a mother.
I have so much respect for some of the great riders in this sport, but I never wanted to be that rider who had the Olympic gold medal but doesn’t have a family. I was very lucky that the timing was good. I’m going to miss indoors and that’s it. It’s not as if I’d made a team and was going to have to miss a major competition. But obviously at the same time, it’s a sacrifice taking time away from the sport. It’s very difficult to take time off in this sport and stay at a high level.
What’s the plan for your horses?
I have some nice young horses that have done a lot this year. I kind of showed as much as I could this summer just because I knew I’d be taking the time off. So, they’re due a break anyway, so in that way it works very well.
Juvina is a new mare for me, and she did a lot with her previous [riders, David Will of Germany and Stefanie Bistan of Austria] and then she did a lot with me this summer going straight into the grand prix with her, so some time off will be good for her.
My other grand prix horse is Lilli. She’s stepped up into some smaller grand prix. She’s been really consistent at the 1.50-meter level, and I’ll think she’ll be super at 1.60 meters, but she just needed a year to develop. She’s only 9, so I didn’t want to push her too quick this year.
I have three 8-year-olds, Washington Square, River Dance Semilly and Roky Dorcel. My first homebred, South Street, is 7. She’s out of my gray mare Mila, who I used to show in the grand prix, and by Languster. That’s been really fun, bringing her along. She was 5-year-old circuit champion at WEF and then took a little bit of time off in her 6-year-old year for an injury, and she’s just back from that.
River Dance Semilly will continue showing with Paul O’Shea because he needs the experience, but everyone else will have time off. They’ll go for hacks around here in Old Salem and then when we go to Florida. In November or December, they’ll start back into work and jumping a little with other riders.
When do you plan to start riding again?
I’ll start back slowly hopefully back in the gym by January, and my goal is to be back in the saddle by February. If everything goes as planned, that’s what I’m aiming for. That said, I’m very aware that that might change!
I understand that I need to give myself leeway. I’ve proven I can come back from taking time off, so if it takes me a little bit longer than I planned, I know it’s not the end of the world.
Do you have a pony for your son yet?
I actually rescued a mini at the ASPCA Adoption Day at the Hampton Classic two years ago, and she ended up being pregnant, so we ended up getting two.
I’ve always said I want the younger one to be my child’s first pony, so we’re going to break him and find someone small to get on him.