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Mother-Daughter Duo Tamie Smith and Kaylawna Smith-Cook Help One Another Reach Pinnacle of Eventing

by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department | May 9, 2023, 4:30 PM

Tamie Smith (fourth from left) chats with daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook after her LRK3DE CCI5*-L test ride with Passpartout
(Kathleen Landwehr/US Equestrian)

Tamie Smith is a name that is known in the eventing world, especially after her recent win with Mai Baum at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian™ CCI5*-L. Following in her mother’s footsteps and making a name for herself is Kaylawna Smith-Cook. This talented mother-daughter duo is taking eventing’s international stage by storm and helping one another along the way.

While at the 2023 LRK3DE, Smith-Cook did the CCI5*-L test ride with Passepartout as they prepare for the Tryon International Three-Day Event from May 10-14 in Mill Spring, N.C., and aim for future goals. Smith said she took pride in seeing her daughter riding at one of the biggest eventing competitions in the world.

“I was just watching her in the [warm-up] rings and helping her a little bit and I was like, ‘That’s my kid!’ She is so good, and I’m so proud of her,” said Smith. “She has worked hard, and she has got some great horses coming up. It is just really cool to see her develop. She is loads better than I am. We just got to get her the experience and she is going to hit the road running.”

Smith has several impressive achievements with her superstar Mai Baum. The pair won team silver at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championship in Pratoni, Italy, and team gold at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. Smith-Cook began competing at the four-star level in 2022 and earned several top placings with her mounts MaiBlume and Passepartout. Smith and Smith-Cook continue to develop as riders and share a special bond as mother and daughter.

Kaylawna Smith-Cook and Passpartout perform the LRK3DE CCI5*-L test ride
(Leslie Potter/US Equestrian)

“I would say being her daughter is definitely a privilege, and it is a great example to follow in her footsteps,” said Smith-Cook of her mother. “I feel that she is right there to guide me to being my own rider and navigating through trying to become an upper-level rider. I’m really, really proud of her and excited  to be right alongside her.”

Smith had similar praise for her daughter, who works hard as a young professional.

“She is so good; she is such a good rider,” said Smith. “She is inexperienced [at this level], but she is awesome.”

Smith-Cook handled the atmosphere well in the electric Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“It was unbelievable. I have always wanted to ride here,” said Smith-Cook. “I was actually entered on my mare [in the CCI4*-S] and she wasn’t able to compete, so we decided to ask to do the test ride on my big guy. It was really nice to get in the ring even though I wasn’t competing and still have that experience.”

“The horse is such a special horse. And she did a phenomenal job to be in an atmosphere and a stadium like that in front of everybody for her first time. I think she handled it great,” said Smith. “I think she had three mistakes, but she hasn’t been preparing him for five-star. I think for their first five-star test it was a very respectable 34 or something like that, rivaling right up there. She was a bit conservative, but I think she will be better for it for Tryon.”

Smith-Cook also helped her mother in the dressage warm-up as eyes on the ground.

“Kaylawna is very educated on the flat. In fact, before she went hardcore into eventing, she went to pure dressage and was doing that and competed up through [Intermediate-I]. I kind of wanted her to have that really good foundation that I got when I was a junior. She did that first and worked with our dressage trainer at the time, Niki Clarke, and then she came back. Kaylawna knows [her stuff], so it is good to have her. It is always important to have somebody on the ground.”

Kaylawna Smith-Cook (right) hugs mother Tamie Smith after Smith's LRK3DE win
(Avery Wallace/US Equestrian)

Mother and daughter work out of the same facility in Temecula, Calif., but have separate businesses: Next Level Eventing for Smith and K. Smith Equestrian for Smith-Cook. While their setup works well and they have enjoyed great successes together, sometimes family members have to agree to disagree.

“I would say it gets better by the years,” said Smith-Cook. “We are obviously mother and daughter and want to kill each other probably once or twice a week, but it also is amazing—especially now that I am trying to compete at the four-star level—to be competing against her and with her. It is a bond that is really special.”

It is also a bond that Smith dreams of experiencing at the team level someday.

“It has been really good because we are good communicators, and we talk it through,” said Smith. “I hear her struggles, and then she understands and hears mine, so I think it is making her a better professional overall. It has its perks and it definitely has its disadvantages, as you can imagine, but ultimately, I couldn’t ask for a better situation. Whoever dreams of that? I was like, ‘We have got to be the first mother-daughter who go to the Olympics or something.’ At least five-star; we’ll start there.”