Cayman riders top Caribbean dressage contest

| 09/04/2014

(CNS): Dressage riders from Cayman took first place in a premier Caribbean dressage competition last month. The four team members clocked up 209.655 points some 3.330 more than second placed team, Barbados in the regional contest of the World Dressage Challenge. Officials from the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation said that Phoebe Serpell rode the Children’s Preliminary Test and finished top of her division with 70.862%. Tracy Surrey also topped her division, the Adult Preliminary Test, with 69.665%. Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio was a close second in the same class with 69.136 %. Polly Serpell also rode the Adult Preliminary Test and scored 66.466%.

Every year, the horse world’s governing body, the ‘FEI’, organize the World Dressage Challenge for countries in the Caribbean where dressage is considered to be a developing sport.

The Team was picked in advance with the help of elite dressage coach, Cindy Thaxton, who has been travelling to Cayman for several years to coach local riders. Thaxton’s ‘Dream Team’ consisted of the Serpell sisters, Polly and Phoebe, riding Sundays’s Edition and Calidad, Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio riding Loris 7 and Tracey Surrey riding SonRise David. Thaxton had to assess which riders would get the highest scores but officials said that Thaxton was spot on.

“The CIEF is growing a strong group of equestrians,” said Thaxton. “It is always a difficult choice to compose a Team from such depth. As a Team competition, sometimes the selection can involve one risk for a low score from a brilliant but overly sensitive horse. That sort of decision means that the other three must be solid anchors. This year's choice was complex because of the talent and skill that is developing.

“I had the honor of choosing the strongest for this team, but there were many individuals that would have withstood the pressure of representing the Cayman Islands with brilliance. CIEF has an Olympic Team in the making, if they keep their present course,” she added.

Cayman’s win is no flash in the pan. Riders from this tiny island have won four of the last five international competitions they have entered, including last year’s CEA Dressage Competition.

The team is now back to work learning an entirely different set of Testsin preparation for the region’s next dressage competition on 1 June.

This time it is the turn of the Caribbean Equestrian Association to organize the competition. The CEA have selected US Judge, Jeanne McDonald to travel to Trinidad, Barbados, Bermuda and Cayman to judge riders from each country. McDonald hails from Turning Point Farm near Devon in Pennsylvania. She is well qualified for the job being a an FEI “I” and USEF “S” dressage judge, a USDF/USEF Dressage Sport Horse Judge and a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalist.

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