Hunter-jumper sport is often dominated by women, particularly in younger age groups. But fast forward to the professional ranks of the sport, and you’ll find that there’s just one female rider currently in the top 10 of the Longines World Jumping Rankings: Beezie Madden.
Where do these male riders come from? With the number of other sports available in our country, maybe male riders just start in the sport at an older age. Maybe it’s the culture in that the horse industry is just more prevalent in Europe and more families are involved. Maybe the trend is changing.
Because this winter in Wellington, two of the top 10 riders in the WEF Overall Pony Hunter Rider standings were talented young men. We’ve collected a few male riders from the pony ring with promising futures:
JJ Torano, son of international show jumpers Jimmy and Danielle Torano, had a breakout season this winter. He finished sixth in the WEF Overall Pony Hunter Rider standings, winning 19 classes on four different ponies across the Small, Medium and Green Pony Hunter divisions. His leading mount was the small pony, H.G. Mud Puddles. He also won multiple USEF Pony Medal classes.
JJ is truly the spitting image of his father, mannerisms and all. If that’s any indication, a long and successful career is ahead for him in the sport.
Collin Sweetnam is the son of international Irish show jumper Shane Sweetnam and trainer Alison Sweetnam, who together run the successful operation, Sweet Oak Farm.
Collin is an avid baseball player, but he began pursuing the show ring more seriously over the course of the past couple years. He finished 10th in the WEF Overall Pony Hunter Rider standings, thanks to results aboard Impossiblu and Mr. Magoo. Collin’s older sister Olivia Sweetnam was a commanding leader of the WEF Overall Pony Hunter Rider standings this season, while younger sister Lucy Sweetnam took on WEF’s Small Pony division for the first time.
Jack Strang is one to watch on the west coast. Training with Traci and Carleton Brooks’ Balmoral Farm, Jack rode Happy Place to the Children’s Hunter Pony Championship during Week IV of the Desert Circuit, including a win in the Children’s Hunter Pony Classic. Jack is also having success on horses, winning the Children’s Hunter 2’3″ Championship at Desert Circuit VIII.
Bobby Mercer trains with Sweet Oak Farm alongside Collin Sweetnam, and he more than held his own during the 2021 WEF season. Bobby rode to top ribbons aboard Small Pony Hunter mounts Long Story Short and Benlea Mizzou after stepping up to the division last fall.
Another baseball player, Jasper Bloomberg, son of international show jumper Georgina Bloomberg, began his show career just last year. Riding the popular pony Fairytales, Jasper stepped up to the Children’s Pony division this winter, earning Reserve Champion honors at WEF 9. Before heading north for the summer, he helped his team win the 2021 Wellington Little League Championship.