At first glance, Alyce Bittar, standing at 4-feet 11 inches, might seem like a fragile waif. Quite the contrary, she’s a 14-year-old Immaculate Heart sophomore who is a powerhouse equestrian jumper. The riding world is taking notice.
One year ago, Bittar debuted as the youngest rider at the Longines Masters Grand Slam—an international equestrian competition held in Los Angeles—and quickly proceeded to flatten her competition. Riding against well-known, highly competitive riders, Alyce blazed through the 1.20 meter Invitational Division and went on to capture the EuroAsia Trophy on the final day of competition, which sent her on to compete internationally.
The shockwaves were heard ‘round the riding world.
Just last month, Alyce, Wilton Place, returned to the Longines and didn’t disappoint—beating out riders from around the globe to win the 2015 Longines Masters Grand Slam.
“I never get nervous,” says Alyce, giddily. “I love the competition and the adrenaline rush while I’m in the ring.”
And it shows. At the recent October competition, Alyce and her primary horse, Cara B, won the 1.10 meter jumping division, then took first on Lucky Spot B and second place on Cara B in the Masters West Palms Event Trophy competition the next day.
The string of wins this young equestrian is accumulating should come as a surprise to no one—it’s in her blood. She comes from a long line of equestrians, including her grandmother, a former teenage rodeo queen, her sister, Amelie, also a riding champion, and her father, Georges Bittar, who rode for Lebanon in the Pan Arab Games and as an Olympics qualifier.
Alyce’s career began at five years old. Clocking in daily at the Flintridge Riding Club in La Canada Flintridge, she quickly became a standout. With her father acting as her trainer, Alyce began competitive show jumping when she was seven. She skipped the pony division, choosing to jump horses instead.
“I love connecting with my horses and riding together as one,” she says. “It’s a feeling of trusting each other.”
After her win at the Longines Masters last month, Bittar rode to victory again one week later at the Foxfield Derby at Lake Sherwood. She completed 20 jumps and 25 treacherous challenges (on five different horses), including a water jump, a log, an embankment, an in-and-out ditch and a stone wall.
Sponsors are beginning to take notice of her skills. Legis Equine, Alberto Fasciani and French Meyer Saddles have all signed her up. As she competes more on an international scale including France, Colombia and Lebanon, her equestrian rising star will continue to grow.
For now, though, Alyce enjoys her position as a varsity jumper for the Interscholastic Equestrian League at Immaculate Heart High School and is the Overall Jumpers Champion for 2014-2015.
Looking to the future, she hopes to continue her ascent in the junior rankings both on the West Coast and internationally.
By Sondi Toll Sepenuk