PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. — Equestrian Virginia Bonnie’s passion for show jumping is palpable. At 18 years old, she will be the first to tell you just how much she loves this sport and its animals.
“It’s so fascinating, and so empowering for us and the animals,” says Bonnie.
The connection she has developed with her horse, Heldorado, is truly something special.
“When he goes into the ring, he completely lights up,” says Bonnie.
Heldorado has a unique personality and wasn’t camera shy during our interview, in fact, he loved the microphone and enjoyed being front and center. Bonnie and Heldorado have only been partners since February but developed a bond almost instantly.
“It’s a new partnership, but we’ve done a lot of growing together,” says Bonnie. “He loves to compete, he loves to get ribbons.”
Getting ribbons is something this duo does a lot. On Wednesday night, at the Washington International Horse Show, held at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center, Bonnie and Heldorado won the high junior amateur jumper class.
This is the first time since 1999 that the Washington International Horse Show has returned to Prince George’s County, Maryland. For Bonnie, it feels like home. She grew up 79 miles west of the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upperville, Virginia.
“I’ve been doing this pretty much my entire life. My grandmother was a very prominent hunter rider, so they put me on a horse when I was two years old, and I kind of just went from there,” says Bonnie.
Back indoors for another epic week of competition featuring the crowd favorite Shetland pony races, puissance, and international jumpers. We hope you join us this week as the horses take center stage in Show Place Arena! 🐴🏆 #WIHS pic.twitter.com/2I3SMHRRAE
— Washington International Horse Show (@WIHS) October 25, 2022
Growing up around horses in Fauquier County, competing in this show near her hometown, has always been a dream.
“When you’re little, when you’re like 7 or 8, it just feels so out of reach and to be able to close that gap, and be here in person on this stage, is something that’s very unreal for me,” says Bonnie.
Spending my day with the best equestrians in the world & their adorable horses like (H)elDorado here! Catch my live reports from the Washington International Horse Show tonight at 5p & 6p on @wusa9 @WIHS pic.twitter.com/FWk5ESL5nV
— Sharla McBride (@SharlaMcBride) October 27, 2022
Bonnie has dreams of going to the Olympics one day and representing Team USA. This year, she’s taking some time away from school but plans to start her freshman year at the University of Virginia beginning next Fall.