Riders from Barbados have made history by winning the Caribbean island’s first ever eventing medal.
The team of three riders, Laura Smith (Little Vegas), Zoe Archer (Millridge Z Two) and Monique Archer (Camross Diamond), took team bronze at the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Colombia (19 to 22 July).
The trio competed at their first horse trials just 10 months ago and have been travelling between the island and the US — where the horses have mainly been based in recent months — to prepare for the games.
“They certainly pulled it out of the bag on the day,” team trainer Joss Gray told H&H, adding that the result was “hugely rewarding” for everyone involved.
“I came to Barbados two years ago to try to go from having no eventing here whatsoever to qualifying horses and get to the games, so to get there and win a medal was fantastic.
“It was something I hoped for and something that was possible if all the stars lined up.”
Monique Archer was the highest-placed Barbadian rider individually, finishing fifth on her dressage score of 41.9.
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The horses “travelled well”from Miami to the Bogotá venue, where they were housed at a military base.
“The biggest worry was how the horses would adapt to the altitude; Bogota is up in the mountains at 2,640m and having not really dealt with horses at that altitude [I wasn’t sure what to expect], but they didn’t notice it in the slightest,” he said, adding US eventer Liz Halliday-Sharp, who bases herself between Florida and the UK, also travelled out to help Laura.
“The cross-country was demanding, it was a very twisty course with a few questions, which worked a little in our favour, held in a lovely big public park.”
Zoe, who at 17 was the youngest rider on the team, starts at Hartpury in September and is set to make eventing debut on UK soil in the spring.
The team’s result means Barbados has now qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games. While riders will need to achieve their own minimum eligibility qualifications for the CCI2*, this marks another milestone for the island’s eventers.
Don’t miss an interview with Joss — also team trainer to the Indonesian eventing team, who head to the Asian Games this summer — in this week’s issue of H&H, out Thursday (2 August).
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday