The Cayman Islands remain in contention for another Caribbean equestrian title.
The Caribbean Equestrian Association will host the fourth and final leg of its 2014 Junior Show Jumping Competition in November in Jamaica. The Jamaicans have the home advantage and are tied with Cayman riders for first place with nine points. Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are lying in joint third place with seven points.
Based on the performances in the third leg last month, Cayman has a strong chance of winning the title. Two local riders headed to Trinidad to take on regional foes. Each calendar year, the four association countries – Cayman, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad – meet once in each country to compete over four jumping courses. Each time, they compete on horses loaned by the country hosting the event. In Trinidad, Barbados were unable, leaving Cayman, Jamaica and Trinidad fighting it out for points.
Representing Cayman were Isabelle Smith in the Under-16 class and debutante Chloe Fowler in the Under-14 category. The riders put themselves forward and were both uncontested for their spots on the team.
The venue for the competition was Saddle Valley Stables, Santa Cruz. It sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by the rugged mountains of Trinidad. The Cayman team was warmly welcomed by their Trinidadian hosts, who kicked off the competition on day one with two of the three rounds constituting the entire event.
Coach Tracey Surrey, who accompanied the team to Trinidad, was also travelling overseas as coach for the first time. Surrey said it was a memorable experience.
“We knew that some of the horses in Trinidad would be extremely forward going as they often come to show jumping off the race track,” Surrey said. “However, both members of the team knew this, came prepared and did well in their rounds. Riding borrowed horses is great experience for teaching you how to ride all different sorts of horses and that is why this competition is invaluable experience for our Cayman riders. You cannot be a passenger up there. You have to ride!”
On the first day, both Smith and Fowler had tricky first rounds on challenging horses, picking up six and nine faults, respectively. After a course change for the next round, both riders returned to the arena and executed excellent clear rounds in round two.
The following day, Smith picked up eight faults in the third round and Fowler picked up four. As Barbados were unable to attend the competition, only three instead of the usual four rounds were required. Instead of the fourth competitive round, Trinidad brought out fresh horses for the competitors and organized a ‘power and speed’ class just for fun. In this class, if riders manage a clear round in the first half of the course, they complete the second half of the course against the clock, with the fastest time winning. Cayman’s Smith was the winner of this class.
As well as testing the riders’ equestrian skills, the competition is designed for the youth to meet new friends from other Caribbean nations.
Fowler, who competed overseas for the first time, said her experience was good.
“I really enjoyed my experience in Trinidad,” Fowler said. “Everyone was very friendly and I made lots of new friends. The riding was challenging and fun and I hope to be able to represent Cayman again and improve on my performance.”
In the individual competition, Smith placed third in the Under-16 category and Fowler placed second in the Under-14 category. After the team points were counted, Trinidad were placed first with 10 faults, Jamaica were second on 26 faults with Cayman coming third by a difference of just one fault at 27 faults.