Bethany Baumgardner, an amateur steeplechase jockey and member of the Amateur Riders Club of America (ARCA), has written a letter of appreciation to the many supporters who made possible her participation in the races sponsored by Fegentri, the international organization of amateur riders.
Baumgardner won the final race of the female series on Dec. 3 and finished fourth in the world standings at the end of 2017.
Here is her letter:
To everyone who helped make this year possible,
I am writing this letter first and foremost to thank you for your generosity in helping support the ARCA program. Through ARCA, I was selected to represent the United States in the international series of Fegentri. From the donations you have made, I was able to have an incredible year traveling and riding races that would have not been possible without you.
I wanted to share some of my experiences so you could have a glimpse into the worldly travels I was so fortunate to embark on the past ten months. Riding sixteen of the twenty-seven race series, my year began in Qatar. We raced Arabians and rode camels in our free time.
Next was Chile, where we were able to gallop horses in the morning on the track with no saddles! Between the incredible horsemanship I witnessed and the prevalence of music and art everywhere, Chile goes down as one of my favorites.
To follow I enjoyed pizza and fashion in Milan, the Leaning Tower in Pisa, the Eiffel Tower on the way to Deauville and Chantilly, and the Berlin Wall in Germany. While racing in Hungary, we spent an afternoon in Budapest, which was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.
In Norway, I stayed and worked on a farm that trains harness racers and experienced days with over twenty hours of sunlight. In Belgium, we enjoyed waffles and galloped horses on the beach after riding a jump race over hedges bigger than me! There were big, gorgeous tracks, and there were small ones in the middle of the countryside.
At the end of the series, I had managed one win, seven seconds, and three thirds, which was enough to place me in the top seven international riders and secure me an invitation to the world championships in Mauritius!
On a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, horse racing is nearly a religion. I had the ride on a horse named Social Network and we pulled off a win in the finale! In doing so, I became the first American-born jockey to win at Champ-de-Mars, a racetrack that began in 1812.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have scripted this past year. I’ve seen beautiful places, met incredible people, and rode horses I’ll never forget. This has been a dream come true and without you, it could not have come to fruition. Thank you for playing a key role in the best year of my life.