Mar 30, 2023

Historic Results and Determination Propel Smith to 2022 Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year Title

By Jonathan Horowitz - USEA Staff
Tamie Smith and Danito at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

From horse trials in her home state of California where she prepared herself and her horses to take on the best in the nation and around the world to five-star events overseas where she represented the United States on some of eventing’s biggest stages, Tamie Smith had a remarkable season and finished 2022 as the Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year for the second year in a row.

Domestically in 2022, Smith competed in 16 events, starting and ending her season on her home turf at Galway Downs in Temecula, California, something that she believes is significant to her development and identity as an eventer.

“I feel the importance of being home on the West Coast because this is where my grassroots are,” Smith said. “I was born and raised in California. I’ve produced all my horses and gone to team competitions from here, and I’ve been able to really do it from here. A lot of people don’t think you can.”

Half of Smith's events in America took place in Area VI in California. The other half included both CCI5*-L competitions in the United States, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill aboard Ruth Bley's five-star debutante Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik), a 14-year-old chestnut Hanoverian gelding. Smith and Danito went double-clear on cross-country and added just .4 time penalties in show jumping to finish on a score of 29.8. It was Smith’s highest finish at eventing’s highest level.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum at Badminton. EMS photo

She also added top-10 finishes at the five-star level internationally at Badminton in England and at the FEI World Eventing Championships at Pratoni in Italy aboard Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira), a 17-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Eric Markell, Ellen Ahearn, and Alexandra Ahearn. The ninth-place finish at Badminton by Smith and Mai Baum was the highest by an American pair since Lauren Nicholson (née Kieffer) and Team Rebecca’s Dutch Warmblood mare Veronica in 2018.

Smith and Mai Baum’s individual ninth-place finish at Pratoni helped the United States earn team silver, the first medal at a World Championships in 20 years.

Team USA celebrating at the FEI World Championships at Pratoni. Shannon Brinkman photo

In total, Smith rode 14 different horses in USEA-recognized events in 2022. They ranged in ages from 6-16 years old and represented eight different breeds. Here they are (with their ages reflecting how old they currently are in 2023):

  • Cheers (Blauer Vogel x Qtrapastree), an 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding
  • Crafty Don (Tolan R x Diamond Breaker), a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding
  • Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik), a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding
  • Elliot V (Zavall VDL x Vera-R), a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
  • Fleeceworks Quinn (Distorted Reality x Pagan Baby), a 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare
  • Fleeceworks Royal (Riverman x Marisol), a 14-year-old gray Holsteiner mare
  • Kynan, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
  • Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira), a 17-year-old German Sport Horse gelding
  • Mai Tanzer, a 10-year-old German Sport Horse gelding
  • Mameluke (Lamarque x Phoebe), a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding
  • No App for That (Chelokee x No Approval), a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding
  • Solaguayre California (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria), a 12-year-old Argentine Sport Horse mare
  • Summerbridge Parc (Ramiro B x Summerbridge Lilly), an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding
  • TéAmo, an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding

Out of 76 rides on these horses from Training level to CCI5*-L, Smith recorded 12 wins.

Tamie Smith and Solaguayre California winning the CCI4*-L at Morven Park. USEA/Shanyn Fiske photo

Yet for all of her success, especially at the end of the year, that isn’t how 2022 started for Smith. “My year started really horribly,” she said. “If you looked at my record, it looked more like alphabet soup than results with numbers.”

There were ankle and hand injuries before the 2022 Carolina International (Raeford, North Carolina), and then a fall at Carolina in the CCI4*-S aboard Solaguayre California. She was told that she might need surgery.

“I started the year feeling that my dreams were in the distance and not probably going to be achievable, especially with the World Championships coming up,” Smith said. “But then as the year went on, in the fall, it was magical. In this sport and any elite-level sport, it’s a little bit like that. You aren’t always dealt with the easy road, and it’s kind of what you make of it.”

Smith’s dedication and determination kicked in in the face of adversity. She was “getting up super early, riding my horses in the morning” and then going to rehab at the Olympic training center in San Diego three days a week, often a five-hour round-trip with traffic.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind but a very good example of perseverance,” she said. “I just kept my eye on the prize. I was just like, ‘This is what I have to do next,’ and I kept it very organized and focused. Each focus was different each week.”

Summing up 2022, she passes on a lesson from one of her show jumping coaches: “I believe that the rearview mirror is small for a reason and the windshield is big because you can’t look backwards; you can only look forwards. I went, ‘That’s kind of corny but really true.’ You've got to put the bad behind you and look at what’s next.”

Smith said what’s next for her is a return to the CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event with two horses—Elliot V and Mai Baum—in 2023 with hopes of building off her successful 2022.

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