While managing a busy show season Mia was also preparing for the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover that took place in October in Lexington, KY. Mia competed with Red Eagle, a 6-year-old Thoroughbred. She was the only Junior competitor among professional and amateur riders who placed in both divisions, 4th place in Show Hunters and 5th place in Show Jumpers.
Mia Bagnato is a 17- year- old Junior rider from Fishkill, New York. She was based out of Salem, NY for the summer and showed at Princeton, Upperville, Lake Placid, Old Salem Farm, and Michigan Horse Shows throughout the year. During the winter months Mia heads south and shows in Wellington, FL. This past summer Mia won the national Grand Prix in Ottawa, ON and she jumped clear for 8th place in her first 2* Grand Prix there as well.
While managing a busy show season Mia was also preparing for the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover that took place in October in Lexington, KY. Mia competed with Red Eagle, a 6-year-old Thoroughbred that came through her trainer, Stella Manship’s barn in Wellington last winter. Mia and Red Eagle competed in the Show Hunter and the Show Jumper divisions. She was the only Junior competitor among professional and amateur riders who placed in both divisions, 4th place in Show Hunters and 5th place in Show Jumpers.
In this Q&A we talk with Mia about her love for horses, competing, and her RRP experience.
How long have you been riding? How did you get into riding?
I have been riding my whole life. The first time I sat on a horse was when I was just a couple of months old. I think at that point my mom knew what she was getting herself into. She was already a trainer when she had me, and had a barn so I grew up with it.
What type of riding is your favorite? AND what's your favorite thing about riding?
My favorite type of riding is anything that involves jumping. I love it. My favorite thing about riding is being able to build a connection with my horses. I think it’s a very important thing to do.
Was this your first RRP? Why did you want to compete in this event?
This was my second RRP. Last year I showed at RRP with Stella Manship’s Flashy Shaq, who was second in the show jumping finale. At the time Stella had bought Flashy Shaq I honestly didn’t know about RRP. Once I did, I was very excited to compete at the event to take a part in promoting the aftercare of Thoroughbreds.
Tell us about your recent RRP experience with Red Eagle.
My RRP experience with Red Eagle was so much fun! He is an all around great horse and he made our time there very exciting.
Tell us more about your Red Eagle: age, how long have you owned him, what type of temperament and athletic ability?
Red is a 6-year-old Thoroughbred that had one start on the track. He came to Stella’s farm in Wellington last December. She saw one picture of him and said “Yup, that’s the one for this year.” He has a great temperament and is always trying his best. He’s the most athletic Thoroughbred I’ve ridden yet and he definitely has the potential to continue to move up in the sport.
What was your biggest challenge throughout your preparation for RRP?
Preparing Red for RRP was pretty seamless. He is a very fast learner and starts right where you left off the next day. I’d say the hardest part was getting him good at picking up the left lead!
What surprised you most while training for RRP?
The thing that surprised me the most while training for RRP was how willing Red was, and how quickly he learned.
Who taught you how to ride? Do you train with anyone? If so, where?
My mom, Susie Bagnato, taught me how to ride and I train with Stella Manship too at her barn in North Salem.
Who has influenced you and helped you get where you are?
My parents have been the biggest part of getting me where I am now. The early mornings, the time put in, driving me wherever I needed to be when I didn’t have my license yet, etc. And with the help of Jordan Coyle and Stella Manship, I have been able to move up a lot in the last three years.
Where do you hope to be in five years? Do you have any short term goals/aspirations? Do you plan to attend future RRP events?
In five years I hope to be jumping some bigger FEI classes. A short term goal I have is to just stay consistent and have good results. I also definitely plan on coming back to RRP!
What other hobbies do you have besides riding? What do you like to do that doesn't involve horses?
To be honest, I am always in the barn. I don’t really have time to do much else, but when I do I enjoy hanging out with my friends.
Any other important experiences or life lessons you've learned along the way?
An important life lesson I’ve learned is to just keep at it. Whatever you’re doing might be hard but you have to keep going if you want a good result in the end.
What are you most thankful for?
I’m most thankful for the opportunities I’ve had so far at Elan Farm with Stella Manship, and also for my parents/family supporting me along the way in the sport.
What would you like other equestrians to know about Thoroughbreds as competition/ sport horses?
Thoroughbreds are just as capable as Warmbloods are to jump the bigger classes. You just have to find the right one and put it in a good training program.