The official Olympic website describes the origins of dressage: “Two thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks recognized that if rider and horse were to survive in battle, complete cooperation was necessary between the pair and developed dressage as a method to train the horses for war. A horse’s ability to move quickly from side to side, burst into a gallop or change direction immediately were all considered vital skills.”
Cayman’s dressage riders put their skills to the test last weekend in the first of the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation’s National Dressage Shows for the 2014/15 season. In the last few years, Cayman’s young dressage riders have experienced notable success overseas.
This is the result not only of hard work on the riders’ part and their coaches at home, but also as a result of the input given by visiting coaches from overseas. One such trainer who has consistently coached Cayman’s dressage for many years is Cindy Thaxton of High Point Farm, Georgia. Over the years, Thaxton has visited Cayman to coach riders several times a year and has been delighted to watch the progression of riders through to the upper skill levels of the sport.
This year, for the first time, the federation split the dressage show between two venues: the Equestrian Centre and the Cayman Riding School. This decision was driven by the number of riders wishing to participate. Entries were judged as one competition and overall prizes were awarded for all riders at Cayman Riding School after their competition had finished.
The High Point Award for the day in the junior division went to Saskia Drake on Me and My Shadow with a score of 68.409 percent in the Training Level Test 3, and in the adult division to Madeleine Aquart on Coco Pop for her United States Dressage Federation B Test score of 65.938.
The most difficult tests ridden during the day were the United States Equestrian Federation Third Level Tests in the Adult Division. Charlotte Hinds took first place in the Test 3 Class, Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio took first in Test 2 Class with Thea Millward in second and in the Test 1 class Thea Millward was first, with Polly Serpell in second and Alexandra Bodden in third. In the USEF Second Level, one step down in difficulty, Alexandra Bodden was first in the Adult Test 3 class and Phoebe Serpell was first in the Test 1 Juniors.
In the USEF First Level Tests, Isabelle Smith was first in Test 3 (Adults) and Phoebe Serpell was first in the Test 3 (Juniors). In Test 2 (Juniors), Anja van Genderen was first with Ashley van den Bol in second. In the Test 1 (Adults), Madeleine Aquart was first and in the Test 1 (Juniors), Hannah Fowler was first with Anja van Genderen in second. Hannah Fowler was also first in the Fédération Équestre Internationale Preliminary Test.
In the USEF Training Level Tests, Saskia Drake took first place in the Test 3 and 2 Juniors, followed by Basil Humphries in second place in the Test 3 class. In the Adult Test 1 class Tanja Braendle was placed first, Juliette Forrester second and Amara Thompson third. Rounding out this level was Hannah Fowler in first place in the Test 1 class (Juniors), Eva Muspratt in second, Abbey Swartz in third, Chloe Fowler in fourth, Jenna Boucher in fifth and Megan Swartz in sixth.
The introductory classes of the day, where novice riders showcase their skills, are the UDSF B and C classes. These classes had many new riders or new horses making their debut. Clinching first place in the B class for the Juniors was Kayla Mannisto, closely followed by Lara Humphries in second, Skye Buckley in third, Kyra Slattery in fourth, Shayla Ebanks in fifth and Laney Bodden in sixth.
In the Adult category, Madeleine Aquart took first with Alexandra Bodden in second and Georgia Austin in third. In the C class Juniors, rounding off the day, was Megan Swartz in first pace with Jenna Boucher in second, Abbey Swartz in third, Eva Muspratt in fourth, Lea Rado in fifth and Shayla Ebanks in sixth.
Cindy Thaxton, who hosted coaching clinics prior to the competition and who was judge on the day said, “It was a pleasure to see riders applying basics like forward with bend to bring about reach into the contact. It appears the Cayman federation has a deep base for developing the future of the sport.”
The Cayman federation’s next dressage show is on Jan. 18, 2015 and will be judged by Austrian judge Victoire Mandl, who will be visiting Barbados and Cayman to offer dressage tips.