Suzy Stafford (Picsofyou.com)
Raeford, NC – The first day of competition at the Southern Pines CDE came to a close with pony drivers taking their first steps towards earning National Titles as they performed their dressage tests. National Championship competitors were fortunate to enjoy sunny skies, as CDE competitors following the lunch break were met with a deluge of rain. In the USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship Suzy Stafford leads the field after scoring 45.23 in the first phase. Wendy O’Brien heads into Saturday’s marathon with a six point lead after scoring 43.31 in the USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship. The USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship was the final division of the day and saw Lisa Stroud jump out to the first day lead on a score of 50.24.
USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship
Stafford (Wilmington, DE) and Wendy O’Brien’s TTE Tea Time drove as the final competitors in the division and set the tone from the very start of the test. The Individual Silver medalist from the 2011 FEI World Driving Championships for Combined Ponies utilized her years of experience to produce a consistent and precise effort with the nine-year-old Morgan gelding.
Lying second are the 2012 USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Champions, Paul Maye (Fairfield, VA) and Harmony Sport Horses’ Markus. The 12-year-old German Sport Pony stallion earned a score of 48.43.
USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship
O’Brien (Aiken, SC) drove her own Braakmoor Clowny Clark (a 15-year-old Welsh gelding) and Braakmoor Conan (a 14-year-old Welsh gelding) in the first phase as she looks to retain her National Title from 2012. The pair of ponies demonstrated powerful and expressive gaits but a few bobbles cost them valuable marks.
Heading to the marathon in second place is Jennifer Matheson on a score of 49.39. Matheson (Aiken, SC) drove Katrina Becker’s Bax and Danyloo in the first phase.
USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship
In the dressage, Stroud (West Grove, PA) drove her own Sir Patrick (a 14-year-old Connemara gelding), With Flair (a 14-year-old Welsh gelding), Kilkerin Edward (a 16-year-old Welsh gelding) and Mystic (a 13-year-old New Forest Pony gelding). The nine-time National Champion had a consistent test, highlighted by relaxed walk work. She will head out onto the marathon with a six-point lead.
In second place in the USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship is Heather Schneider (Palm City, FL) who drove her own Rambo, Patrick, Cloud 9 and Jazz to a score of 56.64.
Competition continues for all divisions with the marathon on Saturday.
For Orders of Go and 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