Cayman riders best in dressage challenge

The Cayman Islands officially have the best dressage riders in the Caribbean.

Every year, the horse world’s governing body organizes the World Dressage Challenge for countries in the Caribbean. In this region, dressage is considered to be a developing sport. For 2014, Cayman beat teams from Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and Bermuda to the top spot. Cayman scored 209.655 points, just above Barbados in second place with 206.325 points. Bermuda were third with 201.396 points, Jamaica was fourth with 197.479 points, Haiti was fifth with 196.184 points and last was Trinidad and Tobago with 184.676 points.

Cayman was represented by four ladies in last month’s competition. The Serpell sisters, Polly and Phoebe, rode Sunday’s Edition and Calidad, Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio was riding Loris 7 and Tracey Surrey rode SonRise David. All were helped by coach Cindy Thaxton, who said the team represents the depth of talent in Cayman.

“The Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation is growing a strong group of equestrians,” Thaxton said. “It is always a difficult choice to compose a team from such depth. As a team competition, sometimes the selection can involve one risk for a low score from a brilliant but overly sensitive horse. That sort of decision means that the other three must be solid anchors. This year’s choice was complex because of the talent and skill that is developing.

“I had the honor of choosing the strongest for this team, but there were many individuals that would have withstood the pressure of representing the Cayman Islands with brilliance. The federation has an Olympic team in the making, if they keep their present course.”

Phoebe Serpell rode the Children’s Preliminary Test and finished top of her division with a score of 70.862 percent. Surrey also topped her division, the Adult Preliminary Test, with a score of 69.665 percent. McTaggart-Giuzio was a close second in the same class at 69.136 percent. Polly Serpell also rode the Adult Preliminary Test and scored 66.466 percent. As a result, Cayman has four of its last five international competitions, including last year’s Caribbean Equestrian Association Dressage competition.

The ladies are prepping for the 2014 CEA dressage challenge on June 1, which will feature American judge Jeanne McDonald traveling to Trinidad, Barbados, Bermuda and Cayman to judge each country’s riders. McDonald hails from Turning Point Farm near Devon in Pennsylvania and is a United States Dressage Federation bronze, silver, and gold medalist.

The success of Cayman internationally comes after local riders took part in the country’s National Dressage Show, judged by Anders Sucksdorff of Finland. In the USDF B test, Meegan Slattery won with an amazing score of 76.875 percent on Max. This was an unusually high score and the local federation subsequently awarded Slattery a special High Point Award. Second was Eva Muspratt with 70.625 percent, making her debut on her recently imported pony, Oscar. Third was Leah Alberga on Twinkle with 64 percent and fourth was Jenna Boucher on Katrina with 60 percent.

Slattery also took first place in the USDF C test on Max with 64.75 percent with Muspratt and Oscar in second at 63 percent.

Regina Nowack and Leonora took first in the United States Equestrian Federation First Level Test 3 at 64.677 percent. In the USEF Training Level Test 3 open class, Tracey Surrey and SonRise David took first with 68 percent and Ashley van den Bol and EWSZ Carmella took second at 63.2 percent. Thea Millward rode Kartouche to win the Medium Test, scoring 63.438 percent.

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