Jessica trots for accolades abroad

Cayman’s recent success in dressage has local equestrian riders aspiring for more international success.

Among them is Jessica McTaggart, 26. The George Town native was part of the Cayman team that won the Caribbean portion of the 2012 Fédération Equestre Internationale World Dressage Challenge.

McTaggart, who is currently competing in Florida, states her focus is on upcoming meets.

“I split my time between home in Grand Cayman and Wellington, Florida where my competitive horse Ray of Light is located,” McTaggart said. “We represented Cayman at the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games and 2011 Pan-Am Games. My goal is to reach the Grand Prix level with Ray this year, that’s the level of competition at the World Championships and Olympics.

“Looking forward, I would love to do the same round of competitions, definitely CAC in 2014, Pan-Am 2015, maybe the Olympics and World Equestrian Games. But it will have to be on a new mount, which I am starting to search for. Whether I remain in Florida or return to Cayman to achieve this remains to be determined.”

McTaggart, on her long-time dark bay mare Monroe Carr, scored 65.17 per cent to win the adult preliminary class at the Cayman Islands Equestrian Centre in George Town. She was joined by her sister Jodie McTaggart on dark bay mare Kartouche, who posted 63.85 per cent in the adult elementary class. Two junior riders were also on the team in Thea Millward (on her bay mare Storm) and Polly Serpell (on her dark bay gelding My Shadow), who each posted scores of 66.90 per cent.

Together they catapulted Cayman to a collective score of 198.966 per cent, which was 2.414 per cent higher than second placed Jamaica. Five countries competed in zone 10 with the other nations being third place Bermuda at 193.740 per cent, fourth place Barbados at 192.561 per cent and fifth place Trinidad and Tobago 185.361 per cent.

McTaggart states the performance of the Cayman riders is proof the sport has a bright future here.

“I was absolutely thrilled to hear that we had won, it is something we as coaches, riders and those in the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation have been striving for ever since we joined the challenge four years ago. Every year we have gotten closer and closer to that goal.

“In the big picture, what I hope this win does is encourage the riders and the younger up and coming riders to keep aspiring and keep working and reaching for their goals. What it shows is that hard work and dedication pay off and that is exactly what is needed in this sport to succeed.”

McTaggart also competed in the dressage challenge alongside her mum Mary McTaggart, who excelled on her grey stallion Partenon. She states it is great that the competition was a family affair.

“I have been competing internationally for Cayman since I was 16, first in jumping in our CEA competition and then in dressage while I was at university. It is a great feeling to be competing alongside my mum and sister. We have always enjoyed horses together and to be on an international team is a great achievement.”

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