Jessica McTaggart is getting fresh European props for her riding skills.
The Caymanian star was rated as the best rider by Norwegian judge Kjell Myhre at the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation’s first dressage show of 2013. The event took place recently at the Equestrian Centre and attracted some 15 riders.
Myhre, 48, states McTaggart, 27, is competing at a high level.
“Jessica is the star here, she is a very competent rider with a lot of experience,” Myhre said. “This is the first time I’m seeing her ride and it’s an inspiration for others to have such a refined rider. She not only rides her best horse, but other horses also.
“Members of the Cayman Riding School did well too, using different horses.”
McTaggart, who turns 28 in April, emerged one of the meet’s big winners, claiming the Adult Prix St. George category on her horse called Ray on Light at 66.579 per cent and topping the Adult Elementary class on Partenon at 65.270 per cent.
Polly Serpell topped the Adult Preliminary segment, riding Calidad to a score of 67.759 per cent. Melanie McTaggart, on Smart Racer, won the Adult C Test at 61.750 per cent.
Phoebe Serpell won the Children’s Elementary segment on Me and My Shadow at 56.351 per cent. Thea Millward, on Iggy Pop, claimed the Children’s Preliminary category at 63.103 per cent. Petra Pinkerton nabbed the Children’s C Test crown on Durango at 54 per cent.
A Fédération Equestre Internationale four-star ‘O’ judge, Myhre was in Cayman for a week before returning to his native Norway. While here, he staged dressage clinics. He states he would love to come back.
“I go back to Norway for an international dressage competition in February. I also ride and I did a session with a riding instructor back home. I would love to come back to Cayman. It’s -15 degrees in Norway now so this time of year is really nice to come to a place like this.”
Up next for Cayman riders is the Caribbean Equestrian Association’s Junior Show Jumping Competition in Barbados on 2-3 February and the World FEI Dressage Challenge, which takes place in Cayman on 6-7 March.
Most of the riders qualified for the challenge, which required a score of 55 per cent or better. In addition to her class win, Millward placed second on Storm in the Children’s Elementary group at 55.945 per cent. Charlotte Hinds, on Munroe Carr, was second in the Adult Elementary category at 58.378 per cent.
In the Children’s Preliminary, second place went to Phoebe Serpell on Me and My Shadow at 62.241 per cent. Madeleine Aquart on Zeus placed third at 58.621 per cent with Hannah Fowler on Shirley Temple fourth at 57.750 per cent.
The Adult Preliminary segment saw Jessica McTaggart, on Dublin’s Bay, second at 66.379 per cent and Melanie McTaggart third on Smart Racer at 60 per cent.
While local riders prep for regional events, Myhre states his focus will be on international competitions.
“I’m going to Miami the end of February/early March for an international dressage competition that is a world championship qualifier. Then it keeps going from there, all year round. I have no wife or kids and I have a regular job. This is my hobby.
“I’m also involved with riding for the disabled. There are a lot of competitions with that.”
Myhre came to the fore on the special needs equestrian scene when he served as the president of the ground jury at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He states that experience was an epic one.
“The London Paralympics were great. The Brits did an awesome job. It was a great job and the Paralympic sports are increasing and developing. It’s looking stronger as other countries in the world are putting in more and getting out more.”