Despite frequent thunderstorms and heavy rains, the equestrian events of the Central American and Caribbean Games went on last week in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at Bayamon Park.
Dressage led off the competition, with 25 riders from nine different countries competing.
Colombia took team gold, thanks in large part to a score of 70.05 percent from Marco Bernal, aboard Farewell IV. Guatemala and Mexico took the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Individual medals were contested two days later in the Prix St. Georges.
Marco Bernal added more medals to his collection, scoring a 71.52 percent to take home individual gold. The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muniz won silver with a score of 70.73 percent. The bronze medal was awarded to Antonio Rivera of Mexico, aboard the Spanish-bred stallion Naval. Rivera improved upon his fifth-placed finish earlier in the competition and scored 69.53 percent.
The eventing portion of the Games attracted riders from eight countries. This discipline has struggled with entries in previous years, so it was especially exciting to see such a healthy turnout.
Puerto Rico held the lead after the dressage phase, but the elimination of Michelle Romero on cross-country, who led after dressage, dashed the team’s chances. A second elimination removed Puerto Rico from medal contention in the team competition.
Puerto Rico’s elimination boosted both Guatemala and Mexico after cross-country, with Colombia and Venezuela following closely behind.
Unfortunately, continual rains forced technical delegate Paul Weier to adapt José Luis Ortelli’s cross-country track for the conditions. The course consisted of eight fences within the show jumping stadium, allowing spectators to watch most of the action from the stands.
Even though no rider finished within the time allowed on cross-country, 12 riders jumped the course with no fence penalties and 23 of the 31 starts completed the course.
All five teams competing suffered one elimination each, affording them no dropped score for the jumping phase.
Alvaro del Valle’s mount, Bibi, was eliminated at the final horse inspection, dashing Guatemala’s chances at the team medal, despite the countries’ two remaining riders standing in first and third place.
Mexico’s Erik Arambula held on to his second-placed position, leading Mexico to the team gold medal in the competition. Colombia claimed silver, with Venezuala taking the bronze honors.
Despite their misfortune in the team competition, Guatemala’s Tiziana Billy and Sarka Kolackova walked away with the gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the individual competition. Arambula won silver.
In the show jumping competition, Pablo Barrios, a Venezuelan rider who has recently found success in the United States, walked away with double gold medals.
The Venezuelan team was faultless over the fences, barring time faults, and won gold. Mexico held on to take the silver, and the host country, Puerto Rico, took home the bronze medal—their very first medal in equestrian competition.
After a day off, riders competed for the individual medals.
Barrios’ teammate Andrés Rodríguez initially held the lead, but when his horse, Da Vinci, crashed through a fence, he lost the lead to Barrios and his mount, Quick Star.
In the second round, Barrios maintained just one rail to hang on to his second gold medal. Mexico’s Alberto Michán took home the individual silver medal, ahead of his teammate Juan Carlos Franco.