The equestrian scene in Cayman has geared up significantly, judging by the hordes of regular riders who have got involved in recent years.
That was evident at the Equestrian Center on Linford Pierson Highway on Sunday when Cayman staged the second leg of the 2015 Junior Show Jumping Competition.
Teams came in from Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago for this leg of the competition.
Over two days, each Caribbean Equestrian Association team member rode four horses over different courses. Each overseas rider only had five minutes to familiarize themselves with a horse they had probably never ridden before.
The Cayman team was Phoebe Serpell (16 and Under) and Chloe Fowler (14 and Under). They rode well and came third in the team event. Fowler placed first overall for individual U-14 and Serpell was third in her solo event.
Michelle Boucher is the treasurer of the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation and also a Fédération Equestre Internationale Level 1 Jump Judge who judged Sunday’s competition.
Boucher said that the competition was “absolutely fantastic” with “really nice clean riding.” She said that the horses and ponies all performed really well in what is the most prestigious riding event for riders under 16 in the Caribbean.
“We consider this to be one of the most important of developmental competitions for young riders, and we see nothing but bright futures for Phoebe and Chloe as they continue to compete locally and overseas,” she said.
Boucher is pleased that there has been a “tremendous increase” in equestrian participation in Cayman, proven by the fact that in four years membership has risen from 23 to 120 individuals. Sharon Hinds, president of the equestrian association, has helped build up the sport too.
Cayman now hosts at least 12 events a year in jumping and dressage. Last year, Cayman launched the World Jumping Challenge for the first time locally and plans to run another new Caribbean jumping event, the Caribbean Equestrian Association Regional Jumping challenge which will be run at two heights and open to all ages.
Boucher believes that equestrian sports are great activities to get involved in because of the “incredible animals” riders work with and the discipline it instills in kids.
“They come down five or more times a week to care for their horses and form a partnership. There really isn’t any other sport like it,” she said.
She admits it is an expensive sport but still attracts participants from a wide demographic and many local riders at the top level are Caymanians.
Jessica McTaggart competed at the Pan Am Games in 2011 in dressage and Polly Serpell was in the Youth Olympic Games last year and won a bronze team medal.
Cayman has a number of riders who are working towards qualifying for major tournaments in the future, including the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games and the 2019 Pan Ams and Boucher believes a future Caymanian Olympic rider is not outside of our reach.
“We definitely have the talent here with more and more of our riders competing in high level competition overseas and we see nothing but continued growth and increased excellence in the sport.”
Boucher thanked Maples and Butterfield for their support as gold sponsors. She also thanked silver sponsors Genesis Trust, Cayman National Bank and Bronze sponsors Foster’s Food Fair, Edoardo’s, Carib Creative Photography, Ragazzi and Moozlers for their support.