It was a week of highs and lows at the FEI (International Equestrian Federation) North American Youth Jumping Championships in Traverse City, Michigan, for Bahamian show jumper Kacy Lyn Smith and her horse Chicago M. They finished strong by winning the Farewell Competition.
The duo managed to clear the round in 76.47 seconds to finish ahead of United States of America rider Savannah Embly aboard So Live Helau.
As the first rider ever to represent The Bahamas at the FEI North American Youth Jumping Championships, Smith, age 16, competed in the pre-junior category and joined riders from Canada, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the USA in jumping multiple rounds over four days of grueling individual and team competitions.
The first day of competition went well for the Bahamian, as Smith and Chicago M jumped a clear round in 69.96 seconds, leaving them standing at 20th overall. However, disaster struck on the second day, as the pair failed to clear the challenging course and were eliminated from the final.
Smith expressed her disappointment, at the same time acknowledging that her performance was a learning experience. Chicago M is a 12-year-old Holsteiner and Smith praised her partner.
“I rode every day for weeks before [the final] without stirrups to really strengthen my leg, but I think it’s something I just need to continue to work on,” she said. “I think more experience at 1.30 meters will also help. Chicago M tried to get over the bar, I just couldn’t stay with him.”
The pair may not have qualified for the individual finals, but they were still eligible to compete against other non-finalists in the Farewell Competition. Determined to go out on a high note, they jumped a smooth, clear round for the win.
“I am happy we got to put in a good round for The Bahamas,” she said. “There was a lot of work that went into this… I’ve had so many people say something to me while being here. I’m so grateful to ride under the Bahamian flag.”
Despite her disappointment over missing the individual final, Smith was happy with the result, not just for herself but for the opportunity to raise awareness of Bahamian equestrian athletes.