Eighteen-year old North Carolina native Ryan Bell has only been in California for one year, but he is determined to make his mark in the dressage and jumping arenas and well beyond that. A dressage rider and competitor for most of his equestrian youth, Bell came West specifically to work with trainer Michael Cintas, owner and head trainer of Equestrian Centers International. Now a working student at Cintas’ successful and multi-faceted training program in Riverside County’s Rancho Mirage, Bell is particularly proud of his advocacy work as a JustWorld International ambassador.
Founded in 2002 by former Grand Prix competitor Jessica Newman, JustWorld International has worked to bring together the equestrian community and others with the goal of improving the lives of disadvantaged children in the developing world. JustWorld International raises awareness and funds in the equestrian community to support humanitarian projects that benefit impoverished communities and children in the developing world. Cooperating with local partners, JustWorld International implements sustainable, culturally sensitive education, health and vocational projects.
Bell was accepted as a Youth Ambassador two years ago. In that role, he gives 35 percent of his prize money to the cause. Perhaps more importantly, he is helping raise the charity’s profile on the West Coast and within the dressage community. He joins young jumper riders including Mavis Spencer and Susie Salendino as a growing team of West Coast equestrians on an ambassadors list currently dominated by East Coasters.
Bell learned of JustWorld International while working with top East Coast dressage trainer Beth Sproule-Hansen. “The more I learned about how every penny of the money they raise goes directly to helping educate kids in third world countries, the more I felt it was something I wanted to get involved with.” Bell grew more impressed when he viewed the long list of professional, amateur and junior hunter/jumper riders who supported and represented the non-profit organization. The list of dressage ambassadors wasn’t so long, he noticed. “I thought I could bring JustWorld to another avenue of publicity in the dressage world,” he recalls. He spread the JustWorld word widely while still based in North Carolina and he continues to after selling most of his worldly belongings to come West and train
With Cintas’ direction, Bell plans to focus his competitive goals on dressage for the next few years. He has plenty of Third and Fourth level dressage under his belt. This year he plans to campaign at Prix St. George and Intermediare I with the goal of qualifying for the North American Young Riders Championship either this year or next. A NAYRC medals podium would be a nice promotional platform for JustWorld, of course, but Bell is realistic. “I would be very happy to get a year of FEI level dressage under me this year, then really campaign hard for Young Riders in 2011.”
Bell has greatly enjoyed campaigning Wendy Augustus’ Over The Rainbow, a 14-year-old imported Westphalian mare, that Bell and Cintas trained together, and, plans on continuing to show her at Third and Fourth level this year. At presstime, he was awaiting finalization of a new FEI mount. Simultaneously, he will continue in the jumper ring with McAllister, a 13-year-old South Pacific son.
Bell met Cintas through a mutual friend and had no qualms about leaving his North Carolina life to sign on as a working student at Equestrian Centers International. Bell describes the trainer as “simply fantastic” and as someone who has taken his horsemanship to an entirely new level. Cintas is certainly well-suited to taking on a multi-discipline rider. In addition to training hunters, jumpers, equitation, Grand Prix and dressage horses and riders, Cintas is coach of the U.S. Olympic Modern Pentathlon team, which uses ECI as its winter training headquarters.
Bell can be found at dressage and hunter/jumper shows throughout Southern California and he welcomes inquiries about JustWorld International. He is targeting this year’s Thermal circuit as a hopeful host of a JustWorld benefit, possibly including one of the organization’s famously fun “horseless horse shows.”
For more information on JustWorld International, contact Ryan Bell at 760-851-4775 or visit www.JustWorldInternational.org. For more information on Michael Cintas and Equestrian Centers International, visit www.eqcntrintl.com.