Equestrian Bahamas achieved another milestone this past weekend as The Bahamas became the third country after Jamaica and Barbados to obtain certification of competition officials from the Caribbean Equestrian Association (CEA), while also holding the inaugural Bahamas leg of the CEA Mini Jumping Challenge.
Overseeing the event were CEA President Heidi Mello and Colleen Hoffman, president of the Ground Jury at Spruce Meadows, the largest show jumping venue in North America. Both Mello and Hoffman are Level 3 FEI (International Equestrian Federation) officials. The CEA Officials Education Tour was an initiative conceived by Mello, who became the new president of the CEA earlier this year, as part of an effort to upgrade the education of regional equestrian officials to international competition standards.
Equestrian Bahamas President Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre said the
federation jumped at the opportunity to participate and learn from such esteemed professionals.
“As our sport grows, we aspire to hold higher levels of competition here in the country. However, even regional-level competitions require certain levels of official certification, and like many other Caribbean countries, we do not have these. Competent officiating is the bedrock of any sport, and equestrian is no different in that respect,” Ramsingh-Pierre said.
Six senior members of the local federation successfully participated in a rigorous four-day certification exercise to become CEA-Certified Candidate Jumper Stewards and Candidate Jumper Judges. The course encompassed theoretical and practical elements and a written exam.
On Saturday, the practical day of the clinic, young riders had an opportunity to participate and learn alongside the adults about various procedures, such as horse inspections, that take place at international competitions. Then on Sunday came the big day – the inaugural Bahamas leg of the CEA Mini Jumping Challenge (MJC). The MJC is one of several competitions contested by the eight member nations of the CEA: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Mello had strong words of encouragement for all involved.
“As president of the Caribbean Equestrian Association, I have seen many firsts for Equestrian Bahamas,” Mello said. “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 national and international equestrian sport. I wish them every success to obtain their reachable goals.”
A total of 15 riders took part in the competition, which featured three different classes according to the fence’s height. Results were tallied for individuals in each class, and for The Bahamas as a team, and they 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.