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Equestrian PH Brings The Best In Horsemanship And Equine Care In The Philippines

Equestrian PH is a passion project reared out of a deep love for the sport and—most importantly—for the country

Carissa Coscolluela has a lifelong love for horses. She owns three of them: Fab, Waiducci, and Watson—all dressage horses, and all lovingly and meticulously cared for by Carissa, herself a dressage rider. “As you’re involved in the sport, you see it grow, you see its highs and lows, you see the tides that the sport goes through,” she says. “You get to know the sport very well.”

This knowledge, passion, and love for the sport has prompted Carissa to found Equestrian PH, an equestrian services company, along with Toni Leviste, Joker Arroyo, Marivi Camcam, and Anton Barretto—all established personalities in their own right and all sharing a love and dedication to horsemanship. “Everyone is sort of in-charge of one thing,” Carissa tells Metro.Style. “They bring their own expertise to the table.”

It’s not unknown, after all, that the Philippines isn’t really part of the mainstream when it comes to the sport. “The center of equestrian universe is really in Western Europe,” says Carissa. “Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands. Horses are in their culture as a people. Everyone’s got a horse or a pony in their backyard. That’s not the case here.” Since the Philippines is on the other side of the globe, the riders here may not always have the resources they need readily available.

“You’re not going to have 5,000 people every year who are taking veterinary studies for horses here. You’re not going to have 30 blacksmiths who know how to shoe a horse,” Carissa says. “But those are what you need for the sport.” Individually and on their own, Carissa and company have been helping facilitate the needs and resources of local riders through the contacts that the team of Equestrian PH have made in their years as riders and equestrians. 

Carissa explains, “Let’s say Toni knows a good farrier from Belgium. We’ll get people together here who need to have their horses looked at and bring that vet so that the cost is not too heavy on just one person. If I know a dressage trainer from abroad, then we’ll put together a group here and have a clinic by that person.”

Just like in any other sport, there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration to ensure that someone becomes successful in it. The most important of all is to champion the sport and help it develop well in the country in order to establish a good support system to equip athletes with the necessary training that will make them competitive internationally.

“There are certain components that need to be there. You realize that you need training, you need good horses, and you need to take care of those horses. They’re not motorcycles, they’re not cars that you just start and it’s gonna be fine tomorrow morning. These are living, breathing, thinking beings and you have to take care of them so that they perform to the best of their ability and they do the job that they need to do,” Carissa shares.

Last year, they finally decided to formalize all their efforts and founded Equestrian PH. The organization has made it its mission to promote excellence in equestrian disciplines and horsemanship, organizing and participating in activities, clinics, and competitions both locally and abroad. The organization also prioritizes equine care, and is supervised by some of the top veterinarians in the sporthorse industry. Carissa, while talking about what she’s proudest of about the organization, lists her colleagues’ achievements—all of which she knows like the back of her hand.

“The riders who take part in our activities are the most successfully riders today,” she says, proudly. “We have many SEA Games medalists. We have many riders who win at Grand Prix competitions. Toni, in 2007, won the Grand Prix of Samorin. She has two individual SEA Games medals. Manila, 2005. Jakarta, 2011.” She goes on to list the achievements of Joker and Nicole (Camcam, daughter of Marivi. She is 14 years old, has been riding since she was 9, and is currently one of the most successful young riders in the Philippines today). 

Equestrian PH is a passion project reared out of deep love for the sport and—most importantly—for the country. Carissa emphasizes the importance of competing for the Philippines, a notion she hopes to instill in all the riders, whether young or old. And that’s another thing Carissa wants to highlight: “You don’t have to start riding when you’re young.” She cites Anton Barretto, interior stylist, host of Metro Home on Metro Channel, and Director of Communications of Equestrian PH, as a prime example. “Anton got interested in the sport some time in 2014. He’s a professional, he’s an interior designer, he has a TV show on Metro Channel, and he found interest in the sport,” Carissa says.

“We cultivated Anton’s interest. Just because you’re busy, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it,” she adds. “Anton found himself in Denmark for four weeks at a time just to train. We’d like to develop athletes that way, young riders and older, amateur riders alike.”

For those who are interested in riding, but are perhaps a little too hesitant to try, Carissa has some calming, convincing words. “There is a way to get involved in the sport to get started,” she says. “There is no way an instructor is going to put you on a horse you can’t manage. An instructor is going to look at your age, your physical capability, your height, your size. Normally you’ll get put on a very, very quiet horse who’s not going to do anything scary. Safety is number one. We want to make sure that riders will feel safe when they start riding because when they’re not safe, they’re not going to want to come back for the next lesson.”

equestrian ph brings the best in horsemanship and 0
Carissa Coscolluela with Waiducci at her training base in Helgstrand Dressage in Vodskov, Denmark

Carissa’s hope is that more people enter the sport, whether professionally or leisurely. “You need to develop interest in the sport, otherwise the sport will die,” she says. As president of Equestrian PH, seeing people grow and succeed in the sport is still one of the most priceless moments. “And especially when it’s for the country, when they’re riding for our flag,” Carissa adds. “There’s no greater honor for a rider than to compete for his or her country and even more to win. When we see that the things we have done have contributed to the success of a rider–horse combination, then I’m very happy and I’m very proud.”

At the end of September, Equestrian PH will be staging the inauguralEquestrian Philippines Riders Tour, a showjumping competition which will feature a Nations’ Cup (team competition) between Philippine and Malaysian teams. It will be held in Manila Polo Club on September 29, 2019.

“What we want to do, besides honing the riding abilities of our own riders is to instill a sense of team and a sense of country in our up-and-coming riders,” says Carissa. “An exercise like this will do both: they'll learn to ride competitively and as a team. It’s not only your score that matters for yourself, you’re looking for a contribution to a team score. You’re riding for a team, other people are relying on you. You’re responsible for your team’s score and at the same time you’re also riding with pride and honor for your country and winning for your country. I think that’s very important for our young riders today.”

For a lifelong lover of horses like Carissa, there is perhaps nothing better than two glorious, beautiful things: first, riding for the Philippine flag, and second, trying—and succeeding—at catching a feeling with a horse. “Horses are very complicated,” she says. “But when you finally feel in complete harmony with the horse, when their doing the movements that you’re asking for, then that’s an amazing feeling. For a jumping rider, it might be finding the perfect stride to a jump,” she says, the words sounding almost like poetry. 

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