Smith jumping to new heights

The Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation is experiencing major development in equestrian sports in the Cayman Islands. 

This month, the federation passed another milestone in its development as a Federation and achieved one of its long-term goals in hosting the Federation Equestre Internationale’s World Jumping Challenge in Cayman. The equestrian world’s governing body has various competitions designed for riders who cannot easily travel to international competitions because they live in remote locations, such as the Cayman Islands. 

One such competition is the World Jumping Challenge, which invites riders ages 15 and over to tackle four jumping courses over two days. As well as receiving an individual placing among riders in their geographic zone, the best three riders in Cayman constitute the Cayman Team and are given a ranking alongside other teams in the region.  

Cayman federation president Sharon Hinds said, “It has been a goal of the federation for many years to put on this competition in Cayman for our local riders. Organizing this event is labour intensive. We need to set up the courses exactly as they are designed by the FEI course designers, and we have to do this four times.  

“However, it is thanks to our dedicated board of directors and our fabulous group of volunteers, who constantly give us chunks of their free time, that we were able to stage this event. This one, especially, was hard work, but it was all worth it. It gave the four riders who entered some great competition experience on FEI-designed courses and a ranking in the region for themselves and for the team.” 

The four riders to enter the challenge were Alexandra Rado on Larkin, Polly Serpell on Calidad, Isabelle Smith on Edson Arantes MB and Amara Thompson on Rumour Has It. A fifth rider, Thea Millward, had to withdraw at the last minute due to her horse going lame. The weekend-long competition began with an inspection by local veterinarians Dr. Brandy Darby and Dr. Charles Dickinson. The vets inspected the horses in walk and trot to ensure they were fit for the competition. They also marked each horse on such things as how well it was turned out, how it behaved during the vet jog and its physical condition. 

After all horses had passed the vet jog, the riders competed over the first course. Rado was first to go and had one knock down posting four faults. Thompson and Smith followed her and did the same, each posting four faults, while Serpell clipped two fences, finishing round one on eight faults. 

In the second round of the day, Smith posted the first clear round of the day, with Rado and Serpell both having one knock-down, resulting in four faults each. Thompson had three knock-downs and an additional penalty for cantering in the compulsory trot section, finishing round two on 16 faults. 

In the first round of the second day, the third round of the competition, Smith and Thompson posted four faults, each having one knock-down and Rado posted eight faults for two knock-downs. Unfortunately for Serpell, her horse refused the same fence twice, resulting in her elimination.  

The final round was a “jump off” of sorts, with time coming into play in the event of a tie on overall faults for the winning place. Rado finally got the clear round she coveted, along with Smith and Serpell. Thompson finished the day with 15 faults in the final round. 

After the faults from all four days were tallied, Smith was declared Champion, Rado was Reserve Champion and Thompson was third. These three young women form the Cayman Team for the competition. In addition, Drs. Darby and Dickinson awarded the Best Presented Horse award jointly to Rado and Thompson. 

Local judge Michelle Boucher was very pleased with the competition. Boucher, a Cayman federation director who helped organize the event, said, “It is great that the federation now has one of these international events under its belt. We can now move forward and hopefully plan for more in 2015 in order to give our riders more and more international competition experience. These are very exciting times for our federation and its riders.” 

Alexandra-Rado

Alexandra Rado is one of Cayman’s best jumpers.