Mandl's tips boost dressage skills as challenge nears

Cayman’s dressage community was abuzz last week with the visit of four-star Fédération Equestre Internationale international judge Victoire Mandl of Austria.

Mandl was here to judge and then train riders to hone their dressage skills for a national dressage show and for March’s signature dressage event of the season, the FEI World Dressage Challenge.

Dressage always means attention to detail, and when riding a dressage test, preparations begin long before the horse enters the competition arena.

Horses and riders have to be immaculately turned out, which means washing, brushing, de-tangling, hoof picking and polishing horse and tack to a standard even a drill sergeant would nod appreciatively at.

Due to the number of horses and riders participating, the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation once again split the show between two venues to enable as many people as possible to take part.

The show began with riders Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio and Thea Millward, with some of the most advanced tests. McTaggart-Giuzio scored 64.10 percent. Millward rode Mary Alberga’s horse, Partenon, and scored 59.10 percent.

The busiest classes of the day were the beginner levels. Kayla Godwin placed first in both the Junior B and C Tests, and Lea Rado placed second in both.

Newcomer Charlotte Shepherd and her pony Teddy made their debut in the dressage show and won the Adult USDF C Test, followed by Lexi Bodden and Tcheser Tatalibi.

The judge

Mandl has been judging dressage events for more than 25 years. She is originally from the Netherlands but now lives with her Austrian husband near Vienna. She travels all over the world to judge dressage events: Her recent schedule has taken her to Australia, Mexico, Korea, Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Ireland and the Netherlands.

She remarked about the Cayman event: “The show was surprising because there were many entries for a small country like this, and I was very pleased with the perfect organization of the show by the CIEF. “The average level of dressage riding in Cayman is as with all countries, and the riders here are very keen to improve. There are also a few very talented horses and riders.”

From Cayman, Mandl went to Barbados to judge and train their riders.

McTaggart-Giuzio, who arranged the trip, said, “We are grateful to Barbados for sharing [Mandl’s] contact details with us. When we were looking for someone to come to Cayman and judge in January, the Barbados Equestrian Federation were kind enough to suggest Victoire do a joint trip to both islands, with our two equestrian federations splitting her costs.

“It’s great when Caribbean neighbors can help each other out like this for the benefit and development of riders in the region. Cayman has really enjoyed hosting Victoire and I know the riders have all learned something to take away from their coaching clinics with her.”

For further information, contact Pamela Fowler on [email protected] 
or 916 4312.

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