Tamie Smith Brings Home Huge Win at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5* Moves up to 5th in the FEI World Rankings

by Cheryl Erpelding

Tamie Smith added to her reign of success with her 3-day partner Mai Baum, aka Lexus, when the pair finished on top of a field of 42 horse and rider teams from five countries with her dressage score of 24.2 at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5* in April. This followed her other big win in Sept. 2022 where she helped the US Eventing Team secure the Silver Medal at the World Championships in Italy.

With her clean go over Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course and a clear round for the stadium jumping portion of the three-day, she moved up to first place and also took home the Roger Haller trophy which is awarded to the highest-placing American pair. It has been 15 years since a U.S. horse and rider team won the Kentucky Three-Day, and Tamie is the first west coast rider to win the prestigious event after it was raised to a CCI5*. Fellow Californian, Derek di Grazia brought home the top prize in 1985 when it was rated as a three-star event, which today is equivalent to a four-star rating.

With this major achievement, Tamie hasn’t quite wrapped her head around her huge win, mainly because she and her 26-year-old daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook have a jam-packed schedule with their other horses, a busy competition schedule, and teaching clinics and their students. Tamie, now 47, runs her busy Next Level Eventing business at the same barn as her daughter’s K.Smith Equestrian business in Temecula. Tamie enjoys watching her daughter follow in her footsteps as she is also beginning to grow her career in the international eventing world.

Tamie and Lexus have been a team since 2015 and are on track to compete in the Paris Summer 2024 Olympics. Photo: Sherry Stewart

Robert Kellerhouse, organizer of Galway Downs Three-Day and many other west coast eventing competitions shared this about Tamie’s win in Kentucky:

“What Tamie did at Kentucky was incredible! It has been a 15-year drought for our entire nation trying to get that victory, and I am really proud of her for getting that sorted out and doing what some predicted she would do, but predicting is one thing, but going on the day and getting it done it was just an amazing performance! I am especially proud that she is local, and has been a big supporter of the west coast eventing activities and equally proud of the other riders who also went back this year having done their preparations here on the west coast – Jimmy Alliston, Bec Braitling, and even Missy Miller who set an interesting trend where she came from the East to train this fall in the West to compete here to prepare for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day. A lot of positives have come out of the Kentucky event and not to mention that Tamie also took second place in the four-star on the mare Solaguayre California, owned by Julianne, Dave, and Donna Guariglia! It is just Incredible!”

Tamie and Mai Baum aka Lexus go double clear over Derek Di Grazia’s impressive cross-country course. Photo: Sherry Stewart

Next on the agenda for Lexus, a 2006 German Sport Horse gelding, is a nice vacation before Tamie begins to prepare for the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany in July. According to Tamie, this international event is in most equestrian minds even bigger than competing in the Olympics. If everything goes as Tamie and the Lexus’ owners, Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell, all hope and plan for, they will be on track to be on the U.S. Eventing team headed for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

Lexus will be 18 in 2024, but Tamie feels good about their goals and she is always listening to her horse. If he feels as good as he does now, he will be ready for the games. She trains with dressage trainer Johann “Joh” Hinneman, dressage trainer Sandy Phillips, Australian show jumper Scott Keech, and eventing trainer Erik Duvander, mainly working with Joh and Scott.

Passing inspection and clear to compete in their second time competing at the top levels of eventing in Kentucky. Photo: Shannon Brinkman

I asked Tamie about Lexus if there was anything funny or quirky about her superstar and she laughed, “He hates to be sprayed, clipped, and he hates to be groomed. For a horse that likes to put on a good show for the camera, it is funny how much he hates to be groomed. You have to be quick on your feet to make him look his best as he is wiggly for grooming. But it funny how he knows when someone has a camera.”

Reflecting on her most recent victory weeks later, Tamie says it still hasn’t sunk in, but says, “Throughout my career, I wanted to do very well, and it just goes to show that it is a real testament, that if you work hard you can attain your goals.”

We look forward to following Tamie’s partnership with Lexus and hope to report back good news in her quest to be the best team in the international eventing world.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum before their double clear stadium round to clinch the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in April. Photo: Sherry Stewart