Our riders made a splash last weekend at the 2022 Marshall & Sterling Finals in Saugerties, New York. Congratulations to Isabella Coello, Hannah D’Aguilar and Ella Saidi for qualifying to ride in the Finals, against a tough field of 74. We are super proud to have TWO riders finish in the top 12 for the first time ever! Special congratulations go out to Hannah D’ Aguilar and Isabella Coello for amazing first round scores of 80+ and finishing in the ribbons! Hannah rode Last Call (owned by Penny Schell and Valley Crest Stables LLC) to 5th place overall, while Isabella Coello rode Greystone Stables’ Schokolade Sea to round out the top Finalists with a 12th place finish. Of course we also congratulate their trainers Kimberly Johnson of Camperdown Equestrian Centre, and Erika Adderley of Mariposa Stables! Special mention also to Ella Saidi who rode Megan Gore’s Normandy for an overall 30th place finish. Congratulations to all!
Kacy Lyn Smith and her horse Chicago M rode a double clear round at Loudon, Virginia, this weekend – and in doing so made history as the first Bahamian junior rider to qualify for the FEI North American Youth Jumping Championships, to be held at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in Traverse City, Michigan, in August 2022.
The prestigious FEI Youth Jumping Championships provides an exciting opportunity for young equestrians to compete against their peers, mirroring the format of senior Championships such as the Olympic Games. Team and Individual competitions in each age category are held over multiple days.
16-year old Smith, who lives in Virginia and trains with Kama Godek of Capital Area Premium Sporthorses, will compete for The Bahamas as an individual in the Pre-Junior Championship category. This category is for riders 14-16 years old and features courses at fence heights of 1.30m.
Qualifying for the Championships wasn’t even on Smith’s radar a month ago. When discussing qualification scenarios with Federation officials back in mid-May, Smith was honest – it might not be an option. Qualification deadlines were fast approaching, but she had just started riding a new horse (Chicago M, a 17.1 hh, 12-year-old Holsteiner recently imported from Germany). As a team, they were just getting to know one another. “I’d only jumped him for the first time three days before,” said Smith. “I [was] still figuring him out.”
Yet Smith and her trainer Kama Godek believed it could be done. They began campaigning, to immediate success. After clear rounds at 1.15m, 1.20m and 1.25m at Swan Lake, the pair travelled to the prestigious Upperville Horse Show in Middleburg, VA. The weekend started inauspiciously when Smith suffered a fall: “He jumps extremely athletically and tends to jump me out of the tack,” she noted. Luckily neither horse nor rider were hurt, and the pair finished the weekend strong, going double clear and placing 9th in a competitive field in the $2,500 1.25m Classic. At that moment Smith and her trainer made the decision to move up to the 1.30m class at Loudon. It was the right decision. Smith and Chicago jumped double clear, finishing 5th overall, winning a share of the prize money…and securing the coveted Certificate of Capability for qualification to the FEI North American Youth Jumping Championships!
As the lone rider representing The Bahamas, Smith will ride in the Pre-Children’s Championship as an individual competitor. The prospect leaves her unfazed, declaring, “I will be proud to be the singular rider representing The Bahamas!”
Thanks to all who attended the 2021-2022 End of Year Awards Ceremony at Balmoral Club this past weekend to celebrate our fantastic athletes and coaches! Congratulations to the organizing committee for their efforts in achieving such a successful event!
Equestrian Bahamas wishes to thank the Honourable Mario Bowleg, Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture for graciously presenting the awards; the Bahamas Olympic Committee for their support, and our fantastic MC Mr. Jerome Sawyer who made the night sparkle.
Most especially we wish to thank the donors of the fantastic silent auction and raffle items for their incredible generosity, and all those who responded with open hearts to make our fundraising efforts a success. All monies raised will fund our efforts to continually raise the level of equestrian sport, benefitting athletes, trainers and programs at all member barns.
Ella Saidi turned in a polished performance to finish 5th at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where over 800 leading middle and high school equestrian athletes from across the United States converged this past weekend to compete for top honours in Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage classes, championship titles and collegiate scholarships.
Saidi made history as the first Bahamian rider to make it through the grueling qualification process to IEA National Finals. That journey began in 2020, when the Bahamas Interscholastic Equestrian League (BIEL) became affiliated with the US-based IEA. Both organizations share the goal of providing opportunities for youth equestrians to compete at local, regional and national levels without the expense of owning a horse. The Bahamas is now Region 13 of IEA Zone 4, which also encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Showing in the Future Intermediate Over Fences Individual class, Saidi competed throughout the season to finish as the top performer in her division locally. She then advanced to represent Region 13 at the Zone 4 Finals in Tryon, North Carolina, where a 2nd place finish secured her qualification spot to the National Finals in Harrisburg.
At the Finals Saidi proved herself up to the task, placing 5th out of a field of 18 by successfully navigating a technically challenging course which included special features such as rollbacks, bending lines and an option fence, designed to test a rider’s skill, judgement and control of the horse. In IEA competition riders compete on borrowed horses and get just two practice jumps before entering the ring – a format which mirrors collegiate competition and tests the rider’s horsemanship. Saidi’s equine partner in the ring was “Richie”, a 17.1 grey warmblood gelding owned by Serenity Farms.
Saidi, aged 14, was coached at the ringside by her local trainer, Erika Adderley of Mariposa Stables, who was effusive in her praise of Saidi’s performance. “I’m thrilled that all her hard work and dedication culminated in her ribbon win,” said Adderley.
Bahamas Equestrian officials had much to celebrate at the recent Pan-American Equestrian Confederation 20th anniversary Gala Event held in Wellington, Florida. The Pan-American Equestrian Confederation (PAEC), a member of the Pan-American Sports Organization (PASO), is comprised of the National Federations of the Americas and the Caribbean and was founded in 2001 to promote sustainable equestrian sport in the Americas. EB officials joined representatives from the FEI and fellow delegates from PAEC member nations to commemorate the organization’s anniversary.
From a national perspective the most significant event of the weekend was The Bahamas’ formal entry into the Caribbean Equestrian Association (CEA), a group which already counts Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago as members. Formed in 1997, the CEA’s objectives include encouraging equestrian activity within the Caribbean, promoting the training of equestrian officials in the region, and facilitating intra-Caribbean equestrian events.
The President of the CEA, Heidi Mello of Bermuda, welcomed The Bahamas as the newest CEA member. She spoke of her goals for equestrian sport in the Caribbean, placing a priority on the education of officials, coaches and athletes.
As the CEA Jumping Representative for The Bahamas, EB President Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre noted that “Bahamian equestrian sport will benefit hugely from this regional partnership, and from the wealth of knowledge President Mello brings to the CEA”. She praised Mello for the creative initiatives the CEA is now putting in place to revitalize equestrian sport in the Caribbean. “These initiatives fall into three broad categories,” explained Ramsingh-Pierre. “First Heidi has made it a priority to facilitate training opportunities for regional officials. Under her guidance the CEA is also implementing a coaching certification programme to certify Caribbean equestrian coaches, and expanding regional competition formats by implementing the Caribbean Mini Jumping Challenge. Equestrian Bahamas looks forward to active participation in each of these initiatives.
The Caribbean Equestrian Association Mini Jumping Challenge (MJC) was developed to offer a regional competition for up-and-coming riders and is open to all CEA member countries. Equestrian Bahamas expects to hold its inaugural MJC event in the fall of 2022.
On March 17, 2022, Mariposa Stables Junior Trainers Amber Lleida and Elle O’Brien represented Equestrian Bahamas at The Bahamas’ first Concussion Symposium, hosted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in conjunction with the Caribbean Neurosurgery Foundation.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Myron Rolle, Bahamian neurosurgeon, Rhodes Scholar and former collegiate and NFL football player. Other guest presenters included Florida State University Football Head Coach Mike Norvell and New England Patriots Head Athletic Trainer Jim Whalen.
The symposium was intended to raise the awareness of sporting Federations and Associations regarding the issue of concussion in sports. It also serves as a first step in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s plan to ensure that all sporting bodies formulate safety guidelines and policies regarding concussion.
The discussion addressed how concussions occur, their risks and long-term effects, and the cultural stigma surrounding concussion-related injuries. Attendees learned how to assess concussions in the field, as well as proper protocols for treatment, recovery and return to play. Presenters highlighted the importance of self-reporting and self-awareness of concussions in athletes, as well as the importance of athletes, parents and trainers being knowledgeable about concussions.
As lifelong riders and now trainers, Amber and Elle are already familiar with the importance of headgear, safety and concussion awareness. They contributed to the presentations by showing their fellow attendees an example of a safety-approved riding helmet, and explaining the multiple safety protocols our helmets are required to meet. They praised the event as interesting and informative. Amber summed up the most important takeaway from the symposium: “when in doubt, sit it out!”
Concussion awareness is an important topic for all equestrians. Equestrian Bahamas adheres to an extensive concussion protocol as mandated by the FEI, in addition to requiring SafeSport Concussion training for our national coaches and ensuring that a certified EMT is present at all equestrian competitions.
Further information regarding concussion protocols and safety can be found at: