From Sept. 21 to 25, Wollman Rink will be transformed into an equestrian playground for the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. Manhattan’s own Georgina Bloomberg will be participating in the one-of-kind competition, now in its third year. In 2014, she placed first in the event’s Grand Prix, only eight months after her son was born.
Bloomberg became a professional equestrian in 2005. After graduating NYU, she competed in Europe with the United States Equestrian Team Foundation and credits that experience with influencing her decision. “That was the first time that I really saw what showjumping could be and the opportunities I could have if I really dedicated myself to it,” she explained. The 33-year-old has enjoyed an accomplished career, which includes penning equestrian-themed young adult novels and starting a philanthropy that provides riding attire to those in need.
When asked about her father, she said, “He’s very supportive of what I do and I’m very supportive of him. We do very different things, but I’ve been very lucky that’s he’s been very supportive in many ways in my career and with me as a person.”
Your mother introduced you to riding at 4 years old. When did decide to commit to it?I competed a lot in my junior career and took it very seriously. I always saw myself going to college and doing other things, having the door open to pursue other careers. I went to college and am glad I had the opportunity to do that. I started competing a little bit more overseas and in Europe being part of the US team. My first time going over and competing in Europe was in 2004, and that is when I really decided that I wanted to make a go for it and turn professional and see if I could make it at the top level.
You won first place in 2014 after having a baby the winter prior. Having a kid took me out of the sport for a little bit, but I stayed very fit during my pregnancy. And I made a pretty good comeback I think from being as fit as I could before I had Jasper. And I think having that time off mentally and physically was a good thing. Every time I’ve been forced to take time off, whether it’s from an injury or a surgery or with my son, I thought it was a good thing and I came back well rested and very certain that I wanted to make another go at it. I think having that time off really made me come back stronger. And when I came back at the top level, it was probably July, right before the Central Park Horse Show, and I just started having success at the top level again. And it was sort of the perfect storm of being back in the sport for a couple of months and having the confidence, but still being very well rested and my horses were also rested. So everything came together at the right time for that night.
The equestrian community is a tight-knit one. You must be close with one another.Yeah, we are. It’s a sport that is intense and time consuming and we travel a lot. We all spend a ton of time together. And when you go into the arena, you’re competing against each other and you want to win and you want the other person to lose. But at the same time, you form friendships and very strong bonds with other people in the sport. I really consider the people that I ride against, family. They are people I’ve grown up with and have gone through similar situations with me. The amount of time that this sport takes and the amount of traveling it takes and the way it sort of takes over your life, you really need to be able to rely on your fellow competitors.
Tell us about the philanthropy you started, The Rider’s Closet.This is actually the tenth anniversary of starting The Rider’s Closet. It was something that I started sort of randomly collecting clothes when I was at NYU. I wanted to do something with the old riding clothes that I had outgrown. I became good friends with a girl who went to NYU with me and loved horses and wanted to join the equestrian team at NYU but couldn’t because she couldn’t afford the riding clothing and equipment. And you really can’t do without the proper safety equipment and boots. You need to have that stuff and it’s expensive. And that was how the idea came to me. So I started collecting riding clothing from people at horse shows and people started hearing about it and giving to me. And I began sending it off to different college programs and then pretty soon I started getting letters from individuals asking for clothing, boots and helmets, and it sort of grew from there. And now we’re based in Brewster, New York, at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding. They have amazing volunteers who take care of everything for me because it grew to be bigger than something I could just handle and that’s a good thing. I wanted to help other people and we’ve been able to provide clothing for thousands of people each year all across the country.
You live on the Upper West Side. Why did you choose that neighborhood?It’s funny; I grew up on the Upper East Side, then moved downtown for a few years and really hated it. I tried to fit in downtown and just decided I really couldn’t. I was definitely an uptown girl and just felt at home and more comfortable there. I had always spent a lot of time on the Upper West Side. I had a couple of friends growing up who lived over there and I loved it and really wanted to try it. I still, to this day, am madly in love with my neighborhood and walk around and am completely in awe of how great it is to live there. I’m obsessed with the Upper West Side and will never ever leave.
What are you favorite places there?I don’t even know where to begin with the things I like on the Upper West Side. There’s a new bar called the Dakota Bar which I love. It’s a great addition to the neighborhood and a nice surprise on the Upper West Side. One of my favorite restaurants is Santa Fe, which is just around the corner from my apartmen ... Atlantic Grill. One of my favorite places to go on the Upper West is Tavern on the Green, which is very touristy, but ever since they redid it, I just think it’s so beautiful. In the spring and summer, you can sit inside and in the winter, they have a great bar. It’s funny to say, but it’s a hidden gem. I think it’s one of those things that as a New Yorker, you sort of overlook and consider to be just for tourists. My friends are always surprised when I suggest it, but that’s probably one of my favorite places.
What are your future plans?This sport is so full of ups and downs, so if you’re healthy and riding well and have a couple of good horses, you need to pay attention to that and need to give it your all. Because it could all change tomorrow. Every rider will tell you, one injury and you’re out or one injury to a horse and all of the sudden you have no horses. If you have things going in your favor, you need to ride that wave. I have lots of other things I’d love to do with my life. There’s lots of other business ventures in the riding world such as a riding clothing line. But I feel those are things I have to do in the future when I’m no longer riding. This is something I want to pay full attention to and really take advantage of while I have it. Because I’ve had those times when I haven’t had it and I know how that feels.
For more information, visit www.centralparkhorseshow.com
To learn about Georgina’s philanthropy, visit www.pegasustr.org/riders-closet