Cayman targets Children’s Classic

Local equestrian riders hope to host a regional tournament next year. 

The Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation says there are plans to stage the 2015 Federation Equestre Internationale Children’s Classic on these shores. The Cayman Islands Equestrian Centre would be the prospective venue. Cayman federation secretary-general Pamela Fowler says hosting the meet shows equestrian’s growth here. 

“As a federation, we hope to be able to organize this competition in Cayman in 2015 so our riders can ride their own horses at home,” Fowler said. “It will be another welcome milestone in our development as a federation; hard work, but worth it for the opportunity it affords our pool of young riding talent.” 

The competition was established by equestrian’s world governing body to enable riders aged 14 and under living in remote areas to compete internationally on their own horses without leaving their own country. There are three different height classes within the competition: the “Gold Tour” at 1.2 meters, the “Silver Tour” at 1.1m and the “Bronze Tour” at 1m. Riders choose one tour to enter. 

Cayman competed for the first time last year, as junior rider Thea Millward took part in the 2013 event in Puerto Rico. On a borrowed horse named Hollywood, Millward produced 20 faults over four rounds of competition and a total time of 117.77 minutes. That result put her fifth out of six riders in her FEI Group V division and 94th out of 114 international competitors.  

Phoebe Serpell and Hannah Fowler represented Cayman in Puerto Rico last month, with the 2014 competition organized by the Federacion Puertorriquena de Deportes Ecuestres. According to the Cayman federation, Serpell and Fowler are slated to turn 15 years old before the 2015 event and treated this year’s meet as a chance to gain overseas experience. Both girls leased horses from local equestrian rider Claudia Colon-Acevedo.  

Serpell had an energetic 8-year-old chestnut thoroughbred gelding standing at 15.3 hands tall – or a little over five feet tall with one hand equal to four inches – called Made in China. Hannah Fowler received a seven-year-old bay mare, at 15.2 hands, called Pandora. The girls got acquainted with their horses and prepped them for the Vet Jog in advance of the weekend’s competition. The jog is compulsory at most FEI competitions, with horses being checked by a vet for lameness or other issues. Both Made in China and Pandora passed. 

Hannah Fowler and Serpell chose to enter the Bronze Tour and would consequently jump four different courses over two days. Puerto Rico’s Sophie Uldry was named overall champion while Serpell claimed the overall reserve champion trophy. Puerto Rico’s Daniela Vargas was third and Hannah Fowler was fourth and won the Best Presented Horse award for the jog. 

Serpell said she got along well with her horse. 

“Riding in Puerto Rico was great fun,” Serpell said. “Everyone we met was very friendly and we made some lovely new friends. I had never ridden a horse like Made In China before but I really enjoyed the challenge and was really happy that we got on so well.” 

Awards were given at the end of each day and for overall results at the end of the second day. Both riders jumped a clear round on the first course, despite wet and soggy conditions. In the second round, both riders collected four faults – Hannah Fowler for a knock down and Serpell for a refusal. Hannah Fowler was second on the first day, behind Uldry, while Serpell placed fourth with Vargas ending third. 

On the second day, Hannah Fowler was first into the arena in brighter conditions but caught two fences – leaving her with eight faults. Serpell posted a clear round and in the final round, both girls went clear. At the end of the day, Serpell placed first with Uldry and Vargas second and third, respectively, and Hannah Fowler in fourth.  

Pamela Fowler attended the Puerto Rico competition with the local riders and said they represented Cayman well. 

“The federation is extremely proud of both our riders. They were competing against riders riding their own horses and so both did really well. Having said that, it is always great for development when our riders can gain overseas experience on borrowed horses, and we know both girls really enjoyed the experience and are eagerly looking for their next opportunity to compete overseas.” 

Thea-Millwood

Thea Millward competed for Cayman last year.

Phoebe-Serpell

Phoebe Serpell claimed reserve champion honors. – PHOTOS: SUBMITTED