Not every teenage girl relishes a sudden unbidden thrust into the public eye. Georgina Bloomberg, who was 18 when her father was elected mayor and will be 30 when he leaves office next year, is nearing the end of her term as the city’s first daughter. Along the way she has come to see it as less of a sentence than she once rather famously did. “As a teenager I was rebellious,” she admits, sitting on the bright fire-engine-red sofa in her Upper West Side apartment. “I did not want to be in that position. Now I feel I have grown in my own right. I’m proud of my dad, and he’s proud of me.”
Georgina Bloomberg, once named by Forbes as the fourth most intriguing billionaire heiress in the world, has done a lot of growing up. And she has done so, by remaining steadfastly true to who she is, and where her passions lie—her dogs, animal rescue, her horses, her sport, her philanthropy and her plans for the future.
She still has her compact trim, athletic, youthful figure, round tanned face and outspoken style—just recently she publicly disagreed with her father on his proposed soda ban. She told New York magazine she favored more of a market-based approach, in which healthy drinks are subsidized, to the nanny state approach, where large sugary sodas are prohibited. But still, some of the edge has come off. She has developed a clarity of purpose and a sense of calm that she admits she lacked when she was younger, once announcing she was embarrassed to be named Bloomberg. “I have come to accept all of myself,” she says, choosing her words purposefully. “There is no part of me that I don’t accept.”
Her dad, who was always impressed with her equestrian accomplishments, though he worried about her safety and wondered how she’d make a living riding horses, is more than accepting. He’s proud, and proud in a way that makes you think he never doubted her, and does not mind at all that she speaks her mind. “It’s hard to pick out just a few things you admire most about your daughters,” the Mayor says, “but I’m very proud of how much Georgina has accomplished without anyone’s help, and I love how she says exactly what she’s thinking without second-guessing herself.”
Georgina has even surprised herself. She admits she was not a shining student at Spence, where she and her older, more studious sister, Emma, attended school. After high school, while Emma went on to Princeton and Harvard Business School, Georgina committed herself fully to her sport. Now, she is the co-author with Catherine Hapka of two young adult novels set in the elite equestrian world. The latest is entitled My Favorite Mistake, is published by Bloomsbury, and dedicated to her father, who showed her “nothing is out of reach if you believe in yourself.” She has a third on contract, and at least enough material to fill a fourth. “I never liked writing when I was in school,” she says. “And I never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I have.”
The material for the books is adapted, of course, from her experiences in that rarified world. Georgina started riding at four and competing when she was six. “That’s when I fell in love with it,” she says, adding with characteristic humility, “I wasn’t that naturally talented at it. I just had to work harder than others at it.” She has remained passionately committed to her sport ever since, making a serious run at a berth on the 2008 Olympic team, only to drop out when her horse was injured. Then, it was her injury from a fall, a concussion and spinal fracture, then surgery on her back that prevented her from going for it again in 2012. But Georgina is nothing if not a tough cookie. She always gets back on the proverbial horse. Recovered now, she is back training six days a week (the horse has to rest on the seventh), slowly returning to competition, and planning on making an appearance at the Hamptons Classic, where she sits on the Board. “My sport is a lifestyle,” she says. “People peak in their 40s, 50s, sometimes 60s.” But she does not personally have plans to ride competitively that far into the future. “I want to take one more serious run at my sport in the next couple of years,” she says. “But for me, having a family is starting to be important.”
She does have a serious boyfriend, who is a reportedly a minor-league baseball player she met at the gym, and with whom she recently enjoyed a cross-country road trip, but whose name she prefers to keep private. Whether or not he’ll be integral to this family she’d like to start in the not-to-distant future, she’s got it all planned out: Five kids, “three of my own,” she says, “two adopted.” Five is the magic number she has discovered with her dogs—it’s the maximum number of creatures you can have, love and still give each of them individual attention.
Ah yes, the dogs. Hugo, Mona, Mabel, Stella and Chopper play a big role in Georgina’s world, spending idyllic days at Gotham North, the estate in North Salem that Georgina shares with her mother, Susan Bloomberg nee Brown, the Mayor’s ex-wife. The dogs yelp and cluster around Georgina, demanding her attention. She is always attuned to their needs. A drink of water, a pat on the head, a chipmunk scurrying amidst the rocks, which doors and gates must be shut to avoid letting them out, which ones must be kept separate from her mother’s dogs. This is where Georgina spends most of her time when she is training, and where she keeps the six horses she rides in competition, plus a few that are retired. This is where she wakes up wakes up and heads straight out to the barn.
When Georgina comes to her Upper West Side apartment, she can only bring a few of her canine companions, because of building rules. There she has outfitted them with comfy dog beds and pretty much their own room. These are some seriously lucky dogs; four out of five of them are rescue pups. “The day I adopted blue-eyed Mona,” Georgina says, “She was scheduled to be put down in a few hours.” It started with Hugo, “the love of my life,” whom Georgina adopted on her very first puppy mill raid in 2008. “That’s when I saw the light,” she says. She’s been on a crusade for animal adoption ever since.
She works with both the ASPCA, which she points out started as an organization devoted to equine welfare, and on behalf of the Humane Society of the U.S. to help get more legislation passed regulating puppy mills. The sad fact, she says, is that 99 percent of the dogs sold in New York City pet stores come from puppy mills, another argument for animal adoption. And she does not just try to legislate against those puppy mills; she raids them. On a recent puppy mill raid with her friend and fellow animal advocate Amanda Hearst and others from the Humane Society, she helped save more than 80 dogs, and a pregnant cat, from deplorable, inhumane conditions. It’s messy, grueling, not to mention, smelly, work.
“Not everybody would be willing or able to go on a puppy mill raid,” says Hearst. “But Georgina is the type of person who commits herself fully to what she believes in. She went down with me on the raid, spent the whole day helping the vets and suffering dogs, and then flew back to Florida for work.”
Georgina, Kick Kennedy, Daisy Johnson and Dylan Lauren all are members of the group Hearst started within the Humane Society called Friends of Finn, dedicated to raising money and awareness about the puppy mill industry. In November, Georgina and Amanda will co-chair the Humane Society’s annual gala for the second year in a row.
Georgina’s equestrian activities have given rise to other charities, notably the Rider’s Closet, her invention, which recycles riding clothing and gear to schools and programs that might not necessarily be able to afford such luxuries. “I met a girl when I was at NYU who was going to have to quit the team because she could not afford the apparel,” Georgina explains. “So I connected the dots, and pretty soon people just started sending me stuff.” Eventually, the operation outgrew her and she turned the day to day running of the Rider’s Closet over to an organization in Brewster, New York called Pegasus, which offers therapeutic riding for troubled and special needs children. “I got grief about Rider’s Closet,” Georgina says. “People thought I should be feeding starving people, which is a great thing to do, obviously. But I believe you have to do charity work that you are passionate about.”
Along the way, Georgina has developed some other interests and plans as well. One is fashion, perhaps an outgrowth of the painting and drawing she enjoyed while in school. This summer she attended an intensive course in fashion design at Parsons to help her with the creation of her own riding clothing line. Red, her favorite color—as evidenced by the fact that all of her living room furniture in her Manhattan apartment, and a number of the dog beds as well are bright fire engine red—is certain to figure into the collection. She also has ambitions to start a world-class equestrian magazine, something she says is missing from the marketplace. “I’ve always loved magazines, and I just think there needs to be one for our sport.”
The love of animals, Georgina suspects, comes from her mother’s side. “We always had animals growing up,” she says. Other traits she hopes to inherit from her mother: “Her sense of humor, her sense of style, her knowledge of tradition and manners. She’s the softer side.” She also loves travel and made sure that her daughters had an appreciation for other cultures. What might have been traumatic, the Bloomberg divorce when Goergina was 10 and Emma was 14, turned out to be a bonues, Georgina says. For one thing, it was unusually friendly: For a while after the divorce, the entire family lived in Bloomberg’s Upper East Side townhouse, even as both parents were dating other people. “I had great people in my life,” Georgina says. “That includes my father’s girlfriends and my mother’s boyfriends.”
And her dad? Well, she may not agree with everything he does and says—and don’t even get her started on the issue of carriage horses in the city— but he’s okay too. “He’s my biggest inspiration,” she says. “He showed me that if you have an inspiration, and people doubt you, do it anyway. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s path.”
Text courtesy of AVENUE Magazine.
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