Ray of Light will dazzle fans

January is always the time in the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation’s calendar when the jumps are stored away for a while and members prepare to showcase their flatwork skills in a National Dressage Show.

This year, they have gone one step further and upgraded the show to include at least two Federation Equestre International (FEI) qualified judges from overseas. The show starts at 2:45 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Equestrian Centre on Linford Pierson Highway.

The federation is hosting the upgraded version of the show so that Jessica McTaggart Giuzio and her horse, Ray of Light, can use it as one of two qualifiers for the Central American and Caribbean Games, which take place in Veracruz, Mexico, in November.

The CAC Games are held every four years and incorporate many sports, including the equestrian sports of dressage, show jumping and eventing. Giuzio hopes to qualify for the dressage competition, as she did in 2010 when Puerto Rico was the host. There are six individual dressage competitor spots up for grabs in the region. To win a spot, riders are judged on the results of two events at which they obtain a Certificate of Capability.

The certification may be obtained at an FEI approved event. Each rider must obtain a score of 62 percent or higher in the Prix St George dressage test. Another dressage show will be hosted in Cayman in March, when riders from the island compete against their Caribbean neighbors in the FEI’s World Dressage Challenge. Giuzio will be able to use this as her second qualifier and said it is a great position to be in.

“I am really thrilled and grateful to the federation for hosting two qualifiers this year to help me towards my CAC goals,” said Giuzio. “Qualifying for, and traveling to, the CAC Games is such a huge expense and now the Games feel that much closer because I am able to qualify at home.”

Two international judges will be flying in from overseas this week for the first of these two shows, Kjell Myhre from Norway and Ricardo Rojas from Costa Rica.

Myrhe is now a regular annual visitor to Cayman, having judged this show for several years. He is a level four FEI judge and was president of the Ground Jury for the Paralympic Equestrian at London 2012.

Ricardo Rojas is a level three FEI judge and has extensive judging experience in the Caribbean and around the world.

Other riders have a number of options in competing at the show. Beginners can start their dressage journey by showing the introductory USDF B and C tests, designed to teach the basics of flatwork.

Those hoping to qualify for the FEI World Dressage Challenge, to be held in Cayman at the beginning of March, can show any of the FEI tests. Riders thinking farther ahead can show any of the USEF tests, introduced this year for the Caribbean Equestrian Association’s Dressage Competition in May, an event won by Cayman’s riders last year.

In any event, the opportunity for Cayman’s riders to show their dressage skills in front of two such high-level judges is not to be missed.

Entry for this Saturday’s show is free and everyone is welcome to come and support the Cayman riders and see Giuzio begin a dressage journey which will hopefully lead her to Olympic qualification in this quadrennial or the next.

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