Tracey Morgan (Picsofyou.com)
Raeford, NC – The Southern Pines CDE came to a conclusion on Sunday at the picturesque Carolina Horse Park as three pony drivers were crowned 2013 National Champions. In the USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship Tracey Morgan had the trip of day to claim the Single Pony Title for the first time. Jennifer Matheson claimed her third USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship, with a solid cones phase. The USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship went to Lisa Stroud for the ninth time as she executed a near faultless trip.
USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship
Morgan (Beallsville, MD) drove her own Fuego 88 flawlessly in the cones phase to post the only double clear in any of the Advanced divisions. The 12-year-old German Riding Pony completed on a three-day total of 130.59.
“I knew I needed to do that (drive double clear), to have a shot. That double clear is always so important; it was my first of the year,” said Morgan. “We kept fighting our way up from third after the dressage all weekend.”
Morgan is a former USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship but this is the first time topping the Single Pony Championship.
“It was fantastic to win the National Championship; it was good friends and good competition.”
Earning the Reserve Championship was the leader following the marathon, Paul Maye (Fairfield, VA) on a final score of 134.71. Maye drove Harmony Sport Horses’ Markus just a little too conservatively to incur 8.32 time faults but leave all the balls in place in the cones.
USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship
Matheson (Aiken, SC) drove the combination of Bax and Cees to a cones score of 8.90 after incurring six faults for two balls down and 2.90 time faults. The 2010 and 2011 National Champion earned her third title on a score of 145.15.
“It’s great to win (the National Championship); this makes three,” said Matheson. “It really solidifies to me that I can represent my country.”
The Southern Pines CDE proved to be a large step forward for Matheson and her ponies after a less than ideal spring campaign.
“We’re improving; I’m still trying to get my confidence back. I’ve been unsettled but I’m getting more confident.”
Finishing in second and earning Reserve Champion honors was Wendy O’Brien (Aiken, SC) on a score of 157.37. The 2012 National Champion incurred four balls down and 4.60 time faults for a cones total of 16.60.
USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship
Stroud (West Grove, PA) drove with great precision to complete the weekend with a cones score of 4.24, one ball down and 1.24 time faults. She earned her record-tying eighth consecutive National Championship on a score of 170.11.
“It’s kind of cool,” said Stroud of her ninth National Title (2004 and 2006-2013).
Stroud was very pleased with her team on Sunday as they performed so well over the challenging cones course.
“That was a hard cones course. I felt lucky to get out of there alive,” said Stroud. “It (the time) was very tight. I’m very pleased with all these ponies.”
Heather Schneider (Palm City, FL) earned the Reserve Championship on a three-day total of 201.98, after scoring 14.74 on the cones (one ball down and 11.74 time faults).
For results, visit: http://drivingnews.us/results/results2013/SouthernPines/.
To learn more about the Southern Pines CDE, visit: http://southernpinescdedotcom.wordpress.com/.
Follow the 2013 U.S. Driving Team here.
By Helen Murray