Katerina Coello Posts Top Score in the 2022 CEA Mini Jumping Challenge

The Caribbean Equestrian Association (CEA) announced the results of its 2022 Mini Jumping Challenge, with Bahamian rider Katerina Coello winning the top overall individual score. Over 40 riders across the Caribbean competed in the 2022 CEA Mini Jumping Challenge (MJC). Each leg of the Challenge was held in a different country, allowing athletes to compete on their own horses over a pre-set jump course contested at three different heights: Class A (0.50 metres), Class B (0.60 metres) and Class C (0.70 metres.)

The Bahamas joined the CEA in February 2022 and held its first MJC event in October 2022, at Camperdown Equestrian Centre. The jumping rounds were judged on the concept of “Optimum time”, designed to give riders an understanding of the correct speed at which a show jumping course should be ridden under international rules. The order of finish in each class was dictated by how closely the rider’s time matched the “Optimum time” of the course.

Under these conditions The Bahamas’ Katerina Coello (riding TGIF of Mariposa Stables) was nearly perfect, finishing just 0.02 seconds off the Optimum time and edging out Barbados’ Kai Cook-Johnson by three-hundredths of a second, to be named the top scorer of the MJC.

Besides posting the top individual score overall, Coello, aged 14, was also named the individual winner of Height Class C. Bahamian teammates Storm D’Arville and Ella Saidi were also named as finalists in that height class, finishing 4th and 6th respectively. While dominating the top Class C, Team Bahamas fared less well in the lower height Classes A and B, with the result that overall in the team competition, The Bahamas placed third behind Bermuda and Barbados. For full results of the MJC 2022 see here

Vlasov Savours Grand Prix Victory

Sunday was a fun day for Anna Camille Vlasov and her Belgian Warmblood gelding Gulliver du Saint-Chȇne as they blazed to victory in the 1.40m Grand Prix competition on the final day of the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Oliva, Spain.

Vlasov and Gulliver were only one of two pairs to ride double clear rounds over French course designer Eddy Castillon’s challenging track. A crisp first round in 74.23 seconds put them atop the leaderboard after the first round. A fast, careful effort in the jump off kept them there, as Vlasov went clear in 39.40 seconds to hold off the only other double clear combination – Great Britain’s Joanne Whitaker, aboard Meriarta – beating them by just 0.98 seconds. Carlos Borho Gifon and Esprit de L’Esprit Z of Spain were third.

Vlasov will continue to compete in Europe over the next few months as she prepares for her next goal: to represent The Bahamas at the CAC Games in 2023.

CEA and EB certify first Jumping Officials ever; hold Inaugural CEA Mini Jumping Challenge

What a weekend! Thank you to all who participated in the Caribbean Equestrian Association (CEA) Educational Tour and to all the competitors in the inaugural Bahamas leg of the CEA Mini Jumping Challenge. Congratulations especially to Erika Adderley, D’Yanndria Saunders-Curry, Kimberly Johnson, Dr. Amanda Pinder, Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre and Carrie Saidi on achieving certification as CEA Jumping Officials. A HUGE THANK YOU to our clinicians, Heidi Mello, President of the Caribbean Equestrian Association, and Colleen Hoffman, FEI Level 3 Jumping Judge, of Spruce Meadows, Canada.

Congratulations also to those fifteen riders who made history by riding in the inaugural Bahamas leg of the CEA Mini Jumping Challenge. Results were tallied for individuals in each class, and for The Bahamas as a team, and will then be ranked against riders from other CEA member islands. The MJC is run in each CEA member country over the course of the calendar year, after which overall results from the region are tallied and awards distributed.

CEA President Mello had strong words of encouragement for all involved, saying, “As President of the Caribbean Equestrian Association, I have seen many firsts for Equestrian Bahamas. This is their first year as members of the CEA…their first time competing in the CEA Mini Jumping Challenge…and [their] first officials to be regionally credentialed. Equestrian Bahamas has a great future in both international and national equestrian sport. I wish them every success to obtain their reachable goals.”

Big thank you to Camperdown Equestrian Centre for hosting the event, and to the Bahamas Olympic Committee, Blanco Bleach and Fox Hill Nursery for their support in making the event such a success!

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Congratulations to Hannah D’Aguilar and Isabella Coello, 2022 Marshall & Sterling League Finalists!

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 qualifies for FEI North American Jumping Championships

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!”

2021-2022 Ends on a High Note!!!!

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.

Saidi Finishes in the Ribbons at IEA National Finals

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.

Equestrian Bahamas becomes newest member of Caribbean Equestrian Association

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.

Equestrian Bahamas Attends First Concussion Symposium

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:

FEI Concussion Safey
CDC Concussion Safey

Wong Ranks 6th Overall in High Point Rider Standings

University of Tampa Equestrian Peyton Wong ended her competition season ranked 6th overall in the 2022 High Point Rider standings for Zone V Region 5 of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA). This ranking is based on the points accumulated by all riders in every division in every show over the course of the IHSA season.

Riding in the Open Division, the highest and most competitive in collegiate competition, Wong’s High Point Rider ranking was boosted by her solid performance at the final show of the season, the IHSA Zone V Region 5 Regional Finals, which took place in Ocala, FL. “This last show was an amazing way to end a great show season,” she noted. “I pulled an amazing horse Argon who helped me place 2nd in the flat and Cupido who helped me achieve 5th over fences.”

In collegiate competition, horses are furnished by host colleges and are chosen by drawing lots. The format fairly tests the horsemanship of the athletes as there is no opportunity for warmup, or practice, before entering the ring. Divisions range from Beginner to the Open Division for more experienced riders.

Wong’s strong performance helped the University of Tampa Spartans Equestrian Team to finish 7th out of the 16 teams competing at the IHSA Zone V Region 5 Finals. In reflecting on her successful season, she gave credit to her coach, Karey McGee of Premier Show Stables, and to her teammates, saying “I knew it was an honour to have been placed in this division and know that my trainer and other team members had faith in me to compete at such a level.” She also praised the opportunity to “compete at very nice facilities and alongside amazing riders”, and “to bond with all my team members forming close friendships.”

The Spartans will have to do without Wong this coming fall as she plans to take a semester abroad to study in Ireland; she looks forward, however, to rejoining the team in the Spring of 2023!