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.
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.
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):
Out of 76 rides on these horses from Training level to CCI5*-L, Smith recorded 12 wins.
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.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
After not running in 2020 and 2021, the MARS Bromont CCI Three-Day Event returned to the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Center in Quebec, Canada, in 2022. America's Jennie Saville (née Brannigan) and Twilightslastgleam won the CCI4*-L, as the chestnut Thoroughbred gelding (National Anthem x Royal Child) bred and owned by Nina Gardner moved up from eighth after dressage into the lead after cross-country with the fastest round on wet ground over the tracks designed by Derek di Grazia. Canada's Lindsay Traisnel and Bacyrouge, a bay Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago x Lelia) owned by Patricia Pearce, finished second, and they are among four from the top-10 in the CCI4*-L in 2022 that return in 2023.
Hannah Sue Hollberg of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was on a winning streak at the Essex Horse Trials on Sunday, claiming victory in both the $10,000 Open Intermediate and Open Preliminary divisions with two horses that are fairly new to her. Some difficulty on cross-country did not stop her mount Hachi from claiming victory in the Open Intermediate with a score of 101.6, while Open Preliminary partner Rockster finished on his dressage score of 27.3.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We win our games in practice.” With the goal of having the most effective practices possible for horses, their riders, and their coaches, Cathy Wieschhoff explains some signs that can indicate when horse and rider should repeat an exercise, switch it up, or be done with that activity. Wieschhoff brings perspective as a five-star rider that has competed at the Kentucky Three-Day Event and Burghley Horse Trials, a USEF “R” Course Designer for eventing cross-country and show jumping, a former Area VIII chair and member of the USEA Board of Governors, and a Level V USEA ECP Certified Coach based out of Carriage Station Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.