Cayman equestrians ride for ‘the Challenge’

Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio was Adult High-point winner aboard Jolly Rancher and was named to the Adult Team.

The Cayman portion of the annual international equestrian competition among the Caribbean Islands of Bermuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua and the Cayman Islands took place this past weekend (18 March) at The Equestrian Center on Linford Pierson Highway.

The Caribbean Dressage Challenge, an event organised by the Caribbean Equestrian Association (CEA) and run locally by the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation (CIEF), enables riders from CEA member countries to compete against each other without having to travel with their horse.

Instead, the judge travels from island to island, scoring each competitor’s ride live at an officially organised horse show in each country.

This year’s competition was judged by Brenda Minor, a Canadian FEI 4* judge, the second highest level of International judge. An FEI 4* is qualified to judge all international competitions other than the Olympics and world championships. There are only 12 FEI 4* dressage judges in total in the US and Canada, and only five in the United Kingdom, out of hundreds of dressage judges in those three countries.

Polly Serpell riding Sunday’s Edition and was named to the adult team.

Riders competing in the CEA Dressage Challenge are ranked both individually and by country team. The country team consists of the top three adult and top three child riders based upon the difficulty of the test they ride and the scores they receive. To date, only the Cayman Islands and Barbados have held their 2018 Dressage Challenge. Once all of the countries in the CEA have completed their competitions, the final standing for Cayman’s riders individually and for the Cayman national team will be known. Last year, the Cayman Adult Team placed first overall in the Caribbean, while the Cayman Children’s Team placed second.

Based upon this weekend’s results, the CIEF has determined the Cayman Team for this year’s Challenge. Representing the Adult team are sisters Jodie McTaggart and Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio, as well as Polly Serpell, the 2014 Youth Olympics Bronze medalist in show jumping who was back on island to compete during a break from university. Abbey Swartz, Kayla Mannisto and Chloe Fowler round out the Children’s team.

High Point Champion for the Children and Adults, respectively, were Kayla Mannisto riding Pony Up and Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio riding Jolly Rancher, a four-year-old Cayman pony that she has been training for a little over a year. In addition to holding the CEA Dressage Challenge, the CIEF held other dressage classes for interested riders. Notably, both Ava Law and Marley Trench were competing for the first time and each won their class.

ayla Mannisto riding Pony Up

Winners of each of the classes held this past weekend are listed below in order of most difficult to least difficult test ridden. Dressage Challenge classes are noted with the words CEA.

Fourth Level Test 1 (CEA) Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio riding Loris 7

Third Level Test 1 – Adult (CEA) Alexandra Bodden riding Relation

Third Level Test 1 – Child (CEA) Chloe Fowler riding Ray of Light

Second Level Test 3 – Adult (CEA) Alexandra Bodden riding Relation

First Level Test 3 – Adult (CEA) Polly Serpell riding Sunday’s Edition

First Level Test 3 – Child (CEA) Abbey Swartz riding Blue Ridge Dream On

First Level Test 1 – Child Abbey Swartz riding Blue Ridge Dream On

Training Level Test 3 – Adult (CEA) Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio riding Jolly Rancher

Training Level Test 3 – Child (CEA) Kayla Mannisto riding Pony Up

Training Level Test 2 – Adult Jodie McTaggart riding Nala

Training Level Test 1 – Child Leah Alberga riding Moon Lady

Introductory Test C – Child Ava Law riding Me and My Shadow

Introductory Test B – Child Marley Trench riding Snow White

Jodie McTaggart riding Nala

The next horse show on the CIEF calendar is the final show of the four-part National Jumping Series, which will take place on 22 April at the Equestrian Center on Linford Pierson Highway. Start time will be 8:00 a.m., and organisers say spectators are welcome and admission is free.

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