Lindsay Paulsen shared her experience of a visit to Bermuda with Practical Horseman Magazine on the equestrian sport Dressage.
"The dressage court is the same size no matter where you put it in the world,” Bermuda’s National Dressage Coach Angela Halloran-Smith said to me as we sat in front of a window overlooking Harrington Sound. “That’s huge for us here in Bermuda.” The blue December sky competed in vibrancy with the sparkling saltwater below it. In the distance, anchored boats gently bobbed in the waves against a backdrop of hills dotted with brightly-colored homes.
My short two-hour ride from Boston Logan Airport to Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport felt more like a trip in a seasonal time machine rather than a plane flight. I boarded the aircraft in snowy New England, headed into the clouds for a few hours and then descended over clear blue water illuminated by the sunlight.
The first thing I noticed upon leaving the airport was a cherry red, old-fashioned telephone booth. It looked as though it had been plucked straight from London and randomly plopped near a sidewalk. But random it was not—it was my first reminder that I was in a British Overseas Territory. This fact became all the more clear when I climbed into the passenger seat on the left side of the itty bitty car belonging to my friend and host, Kate Furlong. I had to stifle my panic as we whizzed along the left side—opposite from what I was used to—of narrow roads that snaked through Bermuda’s hilly terrain. People on scooters darted out from blind turns. How on earth does anyone drive a trailer around here? I wondered.
Kate distracted me from the traffic by giving me a run-down of the agenda for my visit, which included visiting a local barn, attending an FEI junior rider’s training session, an FEI competition, a judges’ dinner, a schooling show and then a tour of the island’s more conventional tourist hotspots. There was more dressage to see here than one might expect.
The first stop on my tour of Bermuda’s equestrian community was Hinson Hall Stables, a boarding and lesson facility perched high on a hill.
In the barn, I met Angela for the first time, who greeted me with a friendly hug and warm, southern accent. As she picked stalls and tidied up, I followed her around the barn, learning how this U.S. Dressage Federation gold medalist came from her native Greensboro, North Carolina, to her current role in Bermuda as the National Dressage Coach.
This facility was a great example of how Bermudians tend to be good at utilizing space efficiently, since, as Angela said, there isn’t an abundance of land on this 20.54-square-mile island. I noticed the facility was fairly compact but offered all of the necessities—a spacious tack room, feed area, office space, several stalls, a large outdoor arena with jumps and a few grass paddocks for turnout at the bottom of the hill. Angela and Kate explained that these paddocks were somewhat of a local commodity, since turnout is such a rarity. The only thing missing was a dressage arena—but every savvy dressage rider knows that the basic principles of dressage can be practiced anywhere the footing is sufficient.
Hinson Hall is home to walk–trotters, hunter/jumper riders, low-level dressage riders and even 2015 Pan American Games dressage competitor Virginia “Vee” McKey. You don’t often find all of that under one roof in the U.S.
Click Here to see the Full 2020 Practical Horseman Magazine Article on Bermuda Dressage