Photo: Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)
Ocala, Fla. – Combined driving athletes will descend upon the majestic Live Oak Plantation this week for a shot at a USEF Combined Driving National Championship title. Live Oak International, running Thursday, March 15 through Sunday, March 18, returns as the host for the USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship and welcomes four new USEF Intermediate Combined Driving National Championship divisions.
USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship
The 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ individual silver medalist and 2012 FEI World Driving Championships for Four-in-Hand individual silver and team bronze medalist Chester Weber (Ocala, Fla.) looks to extend his USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship record. He will harness his powerhouse team of Splash, Jane Clark’s 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, and his First Edition, an eight-year-old KWPN gelding; Boris W, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding; Asjemenou, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding; and Reno, an eight-year-old gelding, as he chases his 15th national title at his home farm.
However, the 2017 USEF Advanced Combined Driving Four-in-Hand Reserve National Champion Misdee Wrigley-Miller (Paris, Ky.) will be in hot pursuit with her Beau, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding; Bravour 54, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding; Bolino D, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding; Calipso 86, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; Daan 8, a 10-year-old KNHS gelding; and Saco, an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Both join championship veterans James Fairclough (Newton, N.J.), 2012 FEI World Driving Championships for Four-in-Hand team bronze medalist, Paul Maye (Fairfield, Va.) and Allison Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) as well as newcomers Wiebe Dragstra (Southern Pines, N.C.) and Mary Ruth Marks (Verona, Wis.), who will attempt to win their first title.
USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship
Scott Adcox (Myakka City, Fla.) and Shane Doyle (Hillsborough, N.J.) will go head-to-head for the USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship. Adcox has competed in single horse combined driving events for the past several years. He will compete in his first pair horse division for at Live Oak, entering Nupafeed Auto Pilot, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding; Nupafeed’s Leap of Faith, a 14-year-old mare; and Pepe, a six-year-old KWPN gelding.
USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship
In the largest combined driving division at Live Oak International, 11 athletes will vie for the USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship. Taylor Bradish (Windsor, S.C.) won the preliminary single horse division at the Palm Tree Combined Driving Event at Little Everglades in January with her own Katydid Duchess. She makes the leap with Katrina Becker’s nine-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare to the intermediate division aiming for her first title. However, she can expect tough competition from veteran drivers including 2014 FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships for Singles individual silver and team bronze medalist Bob Giles (Morriston, Fla.), 2010 FEI World Singles Driving Championships competitor Robin Groves and her husband Wilson Groves (Brownsville, Vt.), Anna Koopman (Middleburg, Va.), Cathy Thomas (Verona, Wis.), and Marcie Quist (Vass, N.C.). Robin Groves won the FEI Single Horse Division at Live Oak International in 2009 and placed second in 2011, while Quist placed second in the FEI Single Horse CAI2* at the 2017 Live Oak International.
USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship
Katie Whaley (Paris, Ky.) and Esther “Boots” Wright (Ocala, Fla.) will battle it out for the USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship. Whaley is the 2016 and 2017 USEF Advanced Pair Pony Combined Driving National Champion. She will compete with her own Welsh Cross pony geldings Tommy, 14 years old, and Tanner, 11 years old. She also brings along her five-year-old Teddy to give him experience as he is not old enough for Fédération Equestre Internationale competition.
USEF Intermediate Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship
Six entries make up the USEF intermediate Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship division. Jennifer Keeler (Paris, Ky.) has won every single pony combined driving event she has entered and aims to keep that streak alive with a title victory. She brings her Zeppo, a six-year-old Hackney gelding. Janelle Marshall (Williston, S.C.) has only finished outside the top three twice out of 13 single pony combined driving competitions. She brings Kennebec Joyce, John Merritt’s 10-year-old Morgan mare. Others competing in the division include Nancy Dimick (Randolph, Vt.), Jackie Kane (Hudson, Mass.), Tayler Roundtree (Auburn, Calif.), and Kristin Whittington (Edinburgh, Ind.).
From the US Equestrian Communications Department