Accomplished showjumper Georgina Bloomberg marches to the beat of her own drum while taking life by the rein
Text Maria Graae Photography Thomas Skou / The Horse Rider’s Journal No. 13
We’re a long way from New York as we sit side by side at the new grandstand at the Falsterbo Horse Show in Southern Sweden. Georgina Bloomberg is pretty, athletic, and petite, with a round, tanned face and an outspoken manner. A bandage on her hand tells a story of a fractured finger, indicating someone who tends to push herself to the limit. “I fell while running, but it’s nothing,” she explains with a smile.
Once named as the fourth most intriguing billionaire heiress in the world by Forbes, Georgina is the youngest daughter of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Growing up in the public eye, she was 18 when her father was elected mayor and 30 when he left office in 2013. She has kept true to herself, retaining her passion for her dogs, animal rescue, horses, her philanthropy, and her equestrian career.
Would you describe yourself as an unconventional person?
“Yes, absolutely – I’m not traditional or conventional in any way. I like to say that I march to the beat of my own drum. I like to be myself, and not think too much of what other people might think.”
Does that go for when you’re in the saddle as well?
“Yeah. I think you need to follow your own path, doing what’s best for you, your career, and your sport. While we’re riding at the Nations Cup here in Falsterbo it’s a team sport. But otherwise it’s a very individual sport, so everyone is looking out for themselves the majority of the time. You have to do what’s right for you and not worry too much about anything else.”
How does it feel to be part of a team?
“I love it. For me, being on a team is one of my favourite things about competing, especially a good team like here. I get along great with the rest of girls. They’re fun to go out with at night, fun to be at the show with, and we support each other and stay in touch.”
It was her mother, Susan Brown, who introduced Georgina to the sport at the age of four, but it was far from a perfect match. “In the beginning, I didn’t actually like riding much. But when I started competing at age six, I fell completely in love with the competition side of it.”
Is competition still what motivates you today?
“Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t ride if I didn’t compete; I don’t do it just for fun. What gets me to the barn every day, working hard, is knowing what my next competition will be.”
How would you describe yourself as a rider?
“My style is overall typical American. We tend to ride a bit looser and more forward than the Europeans. I wasn’t born with a talent for riding. Even as a little kid I knew I wasn’t born to just get on a pony and go. I had to learn and work a little bit harder than the kids who had natural talent. I had to manufacture it. I think it was a good thing for me, because I learned work ethics. It didn’t come easy, but sometimes the best things in life don’t come easy.”
There have been many highlights in Georgina’s career. She has won over 50 Grand Prix titles and competed in numerous Nation Cup teams for the United States. But overall, it’s been more of a fight than a fairy tale. She has fractured her spine on two occasions following falls while she was riding, and she has broken many bones in her career. She had back surgery in order to keep competing in the summer of 2011.
Have you ever stopped to question whether you should continue?
“No. It’s part of the sport: You fall off and you get injured. For me, the sport was always worth coming back for.”
You really are quite an animal lover – don’t you have a lot of rescue dogs as well?
“My animals are my biggest passion. I have four dogs and Wilbur, a rescue pig, as well. My work with dog rescues and horse rescues in New York and America is very important to me. I genuinely believe that I was put on this earth to make a difference in animals’ lives. I was always an animal person, but it was only in the past few years that I really thought I could go out and make a difference in the world.”
Georgina also sits on the board of the Equestrian Aid Foundation, which provides support to riders, trainers, grooms, farriers, and other professionals who might need help with medical expenses. In 2006, she set up her own charity called The Rider’s Closet, which seeks to make riding apparel more accessible to therapeutic riding schools, pony clubs, intercollegiate riding programmes, and other riders who are in need. The Rider’s Closet accepts all lightly used riding gear and then donates it to anyone who requests it in the US.
Where did the idea for The Rider’s Closet come from?
“I had some ridings clothes in good condition, but I had nobody to give them to because they were too small. When I went to college I met a girl who wanted to join the equestrian team, but she couldn’t afford the clothing. So I started sending boxes of clothing to different colleges. I collected it at horse shows and I kept it in my mother’s garage. Then I started getting letters from others, so I expanded it to be for everybody. It’s grown and grown, and we’ve now moved it to a location just down the road from my farm, where there are volunteers helping – it’s really nice.”
When Georgina gave birth to her son Jasper Michael Brown Quintana on Christmas Eve 2013, her boyfriend and fellow equestrian Ramiro Quintana was by her side. Young Jasper is already an accomplished globetrotter, as his mother has made a remarkable comeback in Europe this year as well as in the US. Georgina came to the Falsterbo Horse Show on strong form after jumping multiple clear rounds the previous week at the CSI5* Paris, where she earned a fourth-place finish in the Longines Global Champions Tour of the Paris Grand Prix. Before heading to Europe, Georgina had spent the winter jumping in Wellington, Florida at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
You’ve made quite a comeback after becoming a mom.
“I had my son in December and started jumping again in March, so I’m still a bit rusty, but I’ve given myself a bit of lee-way. I’m lucky I have Juvina, a super horse, who has made it easy for me, but I’m very happy about the way I’ve come back.”
Hasn’t your son already got his first pony?
“Yes! We joke a lot about that. I rescued a miniature pony from a slaughterhouse. She was pregnant when we rescued her, so now we have two. If my son wants to ride, he will ride, but we’ll see about that. My boyfriend is a rider as well, so it’s not optional for our son to be around horses: it’s not a sport, it’s a lifestyle with all the travelling that comes with it. So it’s going to be a part of his life while he is young.”
How have your parents inspired you?
“My mother is very supportive, but not pushy at all – as long as I’m happy she thinks it’s great. My father has always taught me that I should follow my heart. He was always very good at not paying attention to what others said about him. I think that’s something much easier said than done, not worrying about what other people think or say. Every day I work on having my skin thickened just a little bit, to not let negative comments come through. That’s something I’ve very much learned from him.”•