Over the past few years, Georgina Bloomberg has exercised an admirable degree of patience. She knew the right horse to bring her back to the top levels of the sport was out there, and she wasn’t going to settle until she found him.
“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve really had a top grand prix horse,” Georgina says. “I think any rider will tell you; you really have to have the right horse to give you the confidence and to give you the results. When I am riding, I’m 100 percent focused and I work hard, but I’ve also sort of taken a step back from it in the last couple years knowing that when the right horse did come along I would 100 percent dedicate myself to that again.”
On October 20th, Georgina entered the ring for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Del Mar knowing that just two of 27 riders that had jumped up to that point had been able to put forth faultless efforts over the Marina Azevedo (BRA)-designed track. Moreover, she had only jumped off on her new mount, the 10-year-old Westphalian gelding Chameur, once before. By night’s end, she found herself rounding out the podium with a third-place finish as one of just three double clear rounds on the night.
Consider that horse found.
Chameur – “charmer” in German – found his way into Georgina’s string in August through a recommendation from a former colleague. In the short time the duo has been partnered, the athletic bay has quickly made a significant impact. After focusing her efforts more outside of the ring, wearing many hats as a mother (to the world’s most charismatic four-year-old Jasper) and an animal rights activist, among seemingly countless other endeavors throughout New York, Georgina has redoubled her focus on riding knowing her new mount is the one that can put her back in contention for show jumping’s most prestigious championships. The effort is quickly producing results. Georgina now sits in the top five on the East Coast sub-league standings of the World Cup’s North American League.
“I think any rider will tell you; you really have to have the right horse to give you the confidence and to give you the results."
“I’ve realized that now I have the right horse, and I need to take advantage of that and be all in,” she says. “I think that my work has really been paying off.”
Less Is More
When Georgina first sat on Chameur in Germany, she immediately realized the horse’s ability. Formerly ridden by Denmark’s Zascha Nygaard Andreasen, the gelding had the experience to match having already jumped in Nations Cup competition – including at Linz-Ebelsberg (AUT), where he led the Danish team with only one time fault against him.
“He’s careful, and he’s also proven himself at that high level,” Georgina says. “This wasn’t a young horse where we weren’t sure if he was going to develop into something good. He’s a horse that has jumped the big jumps with somebody who is similar in riding style and size to me as well.”
The only remaining question was rideability. Zascha rode Chameur in a strong bit and initially, Georgina struggled with turning. To fix the issue, she took a less aggressive approach and simplified the tack. The harsh bit was replaced with a plain rubber snaffle resulting in a more responsive horse.
“I spent some time actually flatting him in just a snaffle and getting to know him just 100 percent for who he is and without any special equipment,” she explains. “I found that he was actually much easier [that way], so we actually downgraded the bit and went straight to a rubber snaffle. Indoors or outdoors, that’s been his bit.”
“I’ve gotten to see that he really does like a lighter bit, and it’s made him a lot more flexible, [and] a lot more rideable,” she adds, “And I’ve been able to turn more easily.”
Jumping Right In
With her sights set firmly on qualifying for the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg (SWE), Bloomberg didn’t have much time to practice with Chameur in smaller classes. The new partnership’s debut came at the four-star level in September’s Hampton Classic.
Sometimes, it’s better to jump straight into the deep end of the pool rather than getting your feet wet in the shallows. After coming away with just one rail and a time fault in the 1.60m Grand Prix Qualifier in Bridgehampton, Georgina felt confident enough to continue on to the week’s feature event. A four-fault score put them in the top 12 in the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix.
“I thought if I made a mistake or had a rail down, it was okay,” Georgina says. “I wouldn’t be too hard on myself, and there were no expectations. Sometimes, when that happens, I ride better. I felt comfortable and felt like it would be a good experience either way, and it was.”
That outing laid the foundation and gave Georgina a wealth of knowledge about her horse to take with her as she set out for the World Cup circuit. After coming away with another one-rail score at North Salem, she and Chameur headed west, where they found their best stride. In Sacramento they contested their first jump-off, just missing the podium with a fourth-place result. Continuing their upward trend, they moved up one more position in Del Mar.
“Once we hit California, I felt like I had really been working as hard as I possibly could with this horse,” Georgina says. “Every moment that I’ve had this horse, I’ve been working on getting to know him and forming a relationship.”
To say that the relative ease with which they’ve been able to establish consistency is impressive would be an understatement, as this is a pair whose stock is rising at a rate comparable to Bitcoin last December. The only remaining piece, according to Bloomberg, is mastering the jump-off. She plans to use the winter season in Wellington for more practice.
“Every moment that I’ve had this horse, I’ve been working on getting to know him and forming a relationship.”
“There are still little things, especially in the jump-off, that I have to figure out,” she says. “I need to get that down pat, but I’ve only done two with him. So, I’m looking forward to getting to Florida and jumping some smaller classes and working on turning and getting the steering a little bit more, but at least we’ve gotten the first rounds down.”
Endearing and Talented
Take a visit to Georgina’s farm and you won’t just find perfectly turned out grand prix horses. Georgina is well known for being an active advocate for animal rescue groups, and she boasts her own herd of rescue animals, from her popular potbellied pig Wilbur to her many rescue dogs.
He may be at the head of Georgina’s illustrious show string, but Chameur fits right in with the pets. Georgina says the bay’s quirks make him particularly and surprisingly endearing.
“He’s actually really sweet,” she says. “I’ve been kind of used to the top level horses being very focused and not really the pets. The horses that I’ve had that have really been pets have usually been the ones that jump at a small level. He’s really special, and he’s very sweet.”
It goes beyond personality. Take a closer look, and you’ll notice that Chameur’s nose is crooked – in the most adorable way possible.
“It’s one of the things that I’ve found really endearing about him,” she says. “Everything’s sort of off about him and just a little quirky, but he’s obviously a really lovely horse to ride and has a nice temperament. He’s not spooky. He’s very confident, and I feel like I can go down to anything, and he just gives me confidence.”
“Everything’s sort of off about him and just a little quirky, but he’s obviously a really lovely horse to ride and has a nice temperament."
It shows. While Chameur remained on the West Coast, Georgina sped past McLain Ward to win the International Speed Final aboard another mount, Paola, at the Washington International Horse Show. She also debuted the nine-year-old Quibelle in World Cup competition, and despite Georgina having never before showed the mare in a grand prix or indoors, the pair finished with just a single rail and a time fault in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington over a course that saw only four clear rounds.
So far Georgina’s indoor show season has been, put most simply, “charmed.”
Photos by Dani Maczynski