When most kids were thinking about putting the final touches to their lists for Santa and their exam revision (usually in that order), avid teenage show jumpers Thea Millward and Phoebe Serpell were packing their bags to head to Jamaica for the final leg of the Caribbean’s youth show jumping competition.
The Caribbean Equestrian Association’s Junior Show Jumping Competition, as it is more formally known, holds four competitions over the course of each year. Two riders are chosen by each participating country to compete for their country at each of the four competitions. Points are accumulated for each country during the year and a trophy awarded to the winning country each December.
In December, it was Jamaica’s turn to host the final leg of the competition for 2013. A veteran association competitor, Millward was Cayman’s rider in the Under-16 age category and Serpell was her teammate in the Under-14 age category. Both girls train at the Equestrian Center with Mary Alberga and Jessica McTaggart Giuzio and had earned their place after a hard-fought trial the month before.
Cayman was represented by a combination of Millward, Serpell and Serpell’s older sister, Polly, throughout the year and headed into the final leg as a frontrunner.
The Jamaican competition was held over the course of two days with each team member competing in a total of four rounds. As well as the host team from Jamaica and the visiting team from Cayman, riders also flew in from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago to compete for the coveted title.
“I was very proud to represent Cayman in Jamaica and I was relieved and very happy that it went well,” Phoebe Serpell said. “The association competition is a great way to challenge yourself and ride very different horses over four different courses and it is a wonderful way to make good friends all over the Caribbean.”
Unlike hockey or tennis players, who just have to pack a stick or a racquet to compete overseas, equestrians cannot easily transport their “equipment” and so this competition takes place on horses borrowed from the host country.
This can often make things more than a little tricky for the visitors and give the home team a big advantage, but Millward and Serpell were more than ready for the challenge.
Over the course of the four rounds, Serpell came second in the Under-14 category with two clear rounds and a total of 12 faults from the other two rounds. Millward would have come away with a similar score if it had not been for drawing quite a difficult horse in the fourth round resulting in an elimination in that round.
Despite placing fourth overall in the fourth leg in Jamaica, when all the points accumulated over the course of the year were added up, Cayman was declared joint winners of the 2013 competition with Trinidad and Tobago.
“The competition was great fun,” said Millward, “but some of the horses were a little tricky. It feels great to have jointly won the association competition this year!”
Sharon Hinds, acting president of the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation, said, “We are so proud of Polly, Phoebe and Thea who have fought hard all year to win points for Cayman at each of these competitions. It is hard to be consistent in show jumping anyway, but these girls have showed consistency even on borrowed horses which they have not ridden before. This is a great achievement and rounds off probably the most successful year of competitions for youth equestrianism in Cayman ever.”
Earlier in the year, a Cayman team took first place in the Caribbean association dressage competition – the sister event to the show jumping challenge – and during the summer, three Cayman riders represented their country in America and swept first, second and fourth places in the Children of the Americas Dressage Invitational.
For more information, contact Pamela Fowler on 916-4312 or [email protected]