Olga Bondar is the deputy director of the Kyiv Hippodrome and a master horse rider. She has two university degrees (mathematics and economics) and speaks two foreign languages – English and French.
In an interview with Svitlana Sydorenko for Kyiv Post, Olga talks about her life, the Hippodrome, and the Ukrainian equestrian world during the war.
Firstly Olga, congratulations on a successful opening of this year’s equestrian season and French Trotters. I know that many Ukrainians visited on opening day on June 19. Do you think the high attendance was due to restrictions on visiting other recreation areas due to possible mining, or were people just keen to get back to the things they love?
Thank you! This is very important for all fans of horses, equestrian and competitions.
We’re really impressed with the number of visitors, which we think is due to a combination of factors. This includes the ban on visiting other recreation areas for certain reasons, the desire for a happy peaceful life, and our efforts to attract the general public to promote horses, racetrack activities, and trotting competitions.
Kyiv Hippodrome is an incredibly beautiful sports arena, located in a picturesque area of Kyiv. Please tell us what condition it is in now.
The main building was constructed in the late 1960s and is quite outdated. During its life so far, only repairs to buildings, structures and pavements for horses have been carried out. Today it really needs major renovation, and the grandstand building is awaiting restoration.
How long have you been involved with the Kyiv Hippodrome and in equestrian sports in general? Why did you dedicate your life to horses?
I’ve been at the Kyiv Hippodrome since 1993, and in equestrian sports since 1986. I’ve really dedicated my life to horses and I suppose you could call it a love affair. Despite receiving two degrees in other fields and working for many years in business, horses have always been my first love, and today I work at the company as a professional.
The Russians have caused significant damage to Ukrainian equestrian sports, killed many majestic, intelligent and beautiful animals and without cause. Ukraine has its own breed of horses – the Ukrainian Riding. Are they safe?
Horses of the Ukrainian riding breed, as well as horses of other breeds in Ukraine, suffered in those regions where there was the fiercest fighting. The war does not select the dead or injured by age, gender or any other parameters. This applies to humans, horses and other animals.
As for the trotters that were on the territory of the Kyiv Hippodrome during the fighting around Kyiv, thankfully they remain alive and well due to the staff of the stables, volunteers, philanthropists and all concerned people. We can’t thank them enough.
The best trotting horses of Ukraine are based at the Kyiv Hippodrome. These horses are in good shape, well fed, trained and have begun to participate in competitions again.
How does the world help Kyiv’s racetrack at this difficult time for Ukraine and does it need additional help? What are the prospects for foreign investment in the Kyiv Hippodrome?
The global equestrian community, especially in Europe, has helped our racetrack and the horses that were on its territory during the most difficult time for the Kyiv region.
Additional help is needed because we’re accepting new young horses and trying to develop the horse breeding industry in Ukraine, even during the war.
Foreign investment in the racetrack must be agreed with the Kyiv City State Administration, and it has many procedural nuances and formalities. But in principle, this is a good idea – one just has to do everything within the legal parameters.
To your mind, is it necessary to return the tote to the Kyiv Hippodrome? If yes, why?
The tote must be restored at the Kyiv Hippodrome because it’s an integral part of the world racetrack industry. Visitors to the Kyiv Hippodrome always ask about the tote and the opportunity to place bets.
We live in a mode of daily air raid sirens and stubbornly do our jobs. What is your message to the citizens of peaceful countries today?
Appreciate those opportunities you have, the relationships that have developed between you and the outside world! Take care of your relatives, friends and animals! Enjoy communication, peaceful skies and life in general!
Thank you, Olga, for your work and for your enthusiasm!
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter