By Eve van den Bol
The all-Caymanian High Point Farm Middle-School IEA Dressage Team, consisting of Kayla Mannisto, Marley Trench and Rosana Stroh, was named Champion at both IEA dressage shows held this past weekend in Watkinsville, GA.
The team has been named Champion at all three shows at which they have competed this year. As a result, the team has qualified for the IEA Dressage Finals for Regions 3 & 4 which will take place on March 21st & 22nd, 2020 at Idlewild Equestrian Center in Dahlonega, GA. Kayla Mannisto and Marley Trench also qualified this weekend to compete as individuals at Regionals, and have their sights set on making it to the IEA National Dressage Finals which will take place on May 9th and 10th, 2020 at Albion College in Albion, Michigan where they will compete against some of the best youth dressage riders in the USA.
Mannisto shined at both Saturday's and Sunday's competitions, winning all four of her classes and capped off the weekend with a phenomenal score of 75% in her Dressage Test class at Sunday's show (most competitors' scores were in the mid-60% range.) Trench almost matched this performance with three wins and a second. Stroh also performed well earning a 4th and a 5th in her two events, placing her in the top half of her classes at each show.
Claire Coman, the coach of the High Point Farm IEA Dressage Team, said that she was really happy with the growth of the Caymanian riders from the last show. She also noted, "The experience for the Cayman riders is both challenging and educational as they ride horses in IEA competition, but normally ride ponies at home."
IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) competition is unique in that no rider needs to own a horse. Instead, the host team provides horses for the competition and riders are assigned to horses based on a random draw. Each rider performing a test has only three minutes to get to know their assigned horse before entering the competition arena. In dressage seat equitation, no warm up time is allowed and the riders compete without any knowledge of the horse. The format of IEA is designed to equalize competition variables and test the horsemanship of the contestants.
"We are really proud of the results our young dressage riders," explained Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation (CIEF) President, Eve van den Bol. "Since competition is limited locally, we have been promoting international opportunities for our youth, and the IEA Dressage program is just one of many that we offer. Since the beginning of the year, we have also sent teams to Jamaica twice (for both dressage and show jumping) and will be heading to Guatemala in February with a show jumping team."
The next and final competition for the High Point Farm IEA Team this season is on January 5th, 2020, where Stroh hopes to earn an individual spot to Regionals.
For more information on the IEA program, visit their website at www.rideiea.org.
For more information on the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation, visit their website at www.ciefcay.com
(Photos by Alex Thaxton)