Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian regrets to announce the cancellation of the Hermitage Classic CDE, scheduled for October 19-22, 2017. Due to the World Pairs Championship in Lipica, Slovenia on September 20-24, 2017, the Hermitage Classic CDE would be very difficult to produce. This is largely due to the host of the event, and much of the Hermitage staff, being in Europe this summer as well as the expense and certain restrictions on return shipping to the USA. Host Steve Wilson looks forward to producing a bigger and better Hermitage Classic in 2018.
The Hermitage Classic CDE had been awarded the opportunity to host the 2017 USEF Single Driving National Championships, which means they will be moving to another venue this year. The USEF Driving Sport Committee met Wednesday, May 31, to review the Championship bid applications for the remaining Events. The Committee voted unanimously to award the Championships to the Kentucky Classic CDE, October 5-8, 2017, at the Kentucky Horse Park. The decision is pending approval of the International Disciplines Committee (IDC) and the US Equestrian Board of Directors.
This situation is a reminder that a small group of individuals graciously sponsor many combined driving events, which is a large responsibility to take on. US Equestrian and the driving community are committed to revitalizing driving sports. It is important to reach out to local events and offer support in any way possible, and competition organizers can make sponsorships fit donors’ needs.
For more information, please contact Danielle Aamodt, US Equestrian director of driving, at email@example.com.
Steve Wilson takes his lap of honor (Picsofyou.com)
Goshen, Ky. – The Hermitage Classic CDE played host to the 2016 USEF Pair Horse Driving National Championship on October 21-23. The picturesque Hermitage Farm provided the backdrop for Steve Wilson to claim his second consecutive championship title.
Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) began the competition with a great dressage test, earning a score of 49.79 from the Ground Jury of Martha Hanks-Nicoll (USA), Danute Bright (USA), Barry Capstick (IRE), Joaquin Medina (SPA), and Jiri Kunat (CZE) to take the early lead.
“I’ve got a new young pair of Dutch Warmbloods that I found in Hungary. One of them is hotter than the other. I really had one of the best dressage tests I’ve ever had, regardless of the score; I felt really good about it,” Wilson explained. “I was able to keep the impulsion up and they have got beautiful extension. I pushed them a little too far and we broke to a canter in the last [extended trot movement], but that was my fault.”
He and his own mixed KWPN and Lippizanner pair put forth a determined effort over the tough marathon course designed by Barry Hunter (GBR), winning the phase with a total of 95.67 penalties and having the fastest times in four of the seven obstacles.
“In the marathon, I put in a different horse, a Lippizzaner I have had for quite some time and a real powerhouse, taking the youngest and most sensitive horse out. I had a really good marathon; I had one bobble in obstacle six, but I felt really good about my time and how well they responded.”
Wilson clinched the 2016 title following Sunday’s cones phase. His lead going into the final phase came in handy as he had three balls down for nine penalties and 6.13 time penalties over the challenging track. Wilson won back-to-back titles with a final score of 160.59.
“Today in cones, I put the two Dutch Warmbloods back together, and Dario was really hot and really wanted to go. If I could’ve had just a bit more control I think I could have kept from hitting a couple balls. I had a nice lead and I knew I could afford three [balls].”
U.S. Driving Coach Thorsten Zarembowicz pointed out that Wilson had three different horses from the last time he won the national title, making Wilson’s win quite impressive. “In one year he achieved the same goal with three different horses, which in my mind, is the toughest part to work out. Normally you change one horse out, get another one in, but Steve has come so far that he can drive a different pair just as well.”
As co-owner of Hermitage Farm with his wife Laura Lee Brown, Wilson felt the stress competing for the championship title on his home turf. “For me, the idea of losing the second time around here at home in front of my friends made me more intense on myself and feel the pressure. Being the host of an event and competing is really difficult, but my wife and I love hosting and it is getting better every year.”
Chet Halka (Millstone, N.J.) started off the weekend with a solid dressage test that received a score of 54.51. He and his own KWPN and Oldenburg pair had a strong marathon performance, collecting 101.66 penalties and having the fastest times in three obstacles. In the cones phase, Halka left all the balls up, but had 7.59 time penalties. His performance was good enough to win the cones phase and earn the Reserve Champion title with a final score of 163.76.
Joan Fernandez (Murrieta, Calif.) and her own Friesian pair had a respectable dressage test to receive a score of 67.55. They had a steady marathon round to tally 174.82 penalties. Fernandez and her pair finished out the competition with four balls down for 12 penalties and 20.8 time penalties in the cones phase, finishing third with a score of 275.15.
Jennifer Keeler receives instruction from Thorsten Zarembowicz during a recent USEF Developing Driver Clinic. Photo courtesy of J. Keeler.
Lexington, Ky. – Three years ago, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) launched an innovative Developing Driver Program to provide supplemental training opportunities for American combined drivers who demonstrated a commitment to the goal of competing at the USEF/FEI level and who were in pursuit of competitive excellence. The eventual goal was to increase the number of drivers and their horses/ponies competing at high performance levels, therefore developing the drivers that could become be future international competitors for Team USA.
So far, the strategy seems to be working: if the results from the recent competitions are any indication, including the CAI2* Hermitage Classic CDE held October 14-18, 2015 in Goshen, Ky., the program has proven to be wildly successful. Five drivers who competed in this year’s program, including the most recent clinic held October 9-11 at Hillcroft Farm in Paris, Ky., dominated their divisions at Hermitage, including:
* Jennifer Keeler of Paris, Ky. won Preliminary Single Pony with Amazing Grace;
* Jason Stronks of Paris, Ky. topped the Preliminary Single Horse division with Gus;
* Denise Hinder of Mount Vernon, Texas won Intermediate Single Pony with Alamo’s Ruby Red;
* Carrie Ostrowski of Georgetown, Ky. claimed the Intermediate Single Horse title with Canada King;
* Sarah Bates of Honeoye Falls, N.Y. bested the FEI 1* Single Horse division with Awesome George.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the USEF Developing Driver Program has literally changed our lives,” said Jennifer Keeler. “Before we started, my husband and I had no real idea of where we might go with competing in driving. But now, we see the possibilities, we’re passionate about the sport, and dare to dream big dreams. We are so grateful for this opportunity and hope that the program can continue so that others can share in this tremendous experience.”
“I couldn’t be more pleased to see how this program has grown,” said Misdee Wrigley Miller, whose generous support underwrites the majority of the USEF Developing Driver Program. “To watch how the progress made by each driver and horse during the training sessions translates into these kinds of results in the show ring is so exciting, and I think it bodes well for the future of high performance driving sport in this country.”
Miller hosted two of the five clinics which were held across the country in 2015 at locations in Kentucky, Florida, California, and New Jersey, all conducted by renowned experts including World Champion driver Thorsten Zarembowicz, World Equestrian Games medalist James Fairclough, and international driver Olof Larsson. “Having a program like this where we can actively identify and develop up-and-coming drivers and horses is critical to the U.S. performing well on the international stage. I can’t stress enough how vital this pipeline is in order to remain competitive with the rest of the world,” said Zarembowicz. “While we always welcome new drivers into program, it’s also important to see some of the most promising combinations come back to the clinics over and over in order to monitor their development and encourage continued growth.”
“I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Developing Driver Program, and I’m living proof that it’s successful,” said Denise Hinder, who drove 1100 miles from her home in Mount Vernon, Texas to participate in the latest Kentucky clinic and then the Hermitage Classic CDE with her pony Alamo’s Ruby Red. “This is a life-long dream of mine to get to this level, and thanks to this program I’m achieving my goals. In just six months of being a part of this program, I’ve gone from the Preliminary level to now planning the start of my FEI career. It’s been an eye-opening experience. And it’s not just the support of the coaches, it’s also from the other drivers – to work with such phenomenal people is incredible. I’m so thankful for the coaching and support so that I don’t feel like I’m making the struggle to climb the competitive ladder all by myself.”
Fellow competitor Carrie Ostrowski agreed. “Being part of this program has been a priceless opportunity for me,” she explained. “To have access to this quality of instruction as well as the encouragement and support to progress through the levels is invaluable. Our dramatic progress over the last year with King has been due largely in part to the coaching I’ve received as part of this program. Thorsten is not only so good at his trade as a driver himself, but he is also able to verbalize what he’s doing and teach students effectively. So he can drive my horse and improve him, but even more importantly he can effectively teach me how to go home and do the same thing. That makes all the difference. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and so thankful to Misdee, USEF, and the USET Foundation for making this program a reality, because many drivers like me would not otherwise be able to afford this level of instruction.”
USEF Director of Driving Lizzy Staller reports that dates and locations for the 2016 Developing Driver Program are expected to be announced by the end of the year. This program depends upon the continued support of drivers and sponsors, and tax-deductible donations are welcomed through the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation (www.uset.org). For more information regarding the USEF Developing Driver Program, visit the USEF website or contact Lizzy Staller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goshen, KY (October 19, 2015) – Current 12-time U.S. National Four-in-Hand Champion Chester Weber doesn’t just know how to drive horses – he knows how to pick them, too. Starting their driving careers on the team owned by Jane F. Clark and Chester Weber, KWPN geldings Danzer and Zeppelin Let’s W joined seasoned competitors Boris W and Ultra in a decisive victory lap at the sixth annual Hermitage Classic CDE on October 16-18, at the historic Hermitage Farm in Goshen, Kentucky.
“The highlight of the competition, without a doubt, was the performances from Zeppelin and Danzer,” said Weber, of Ocala, Florida. “They are new to our team, and coupling with international stars like Boris and Ultra seemed to make them instantly successful.”
Team Weber’s overall score in the FEI 2* Horse Teams division was 174.27, representing an advantageous 50-point spread ahead of closest contender Misdee Wrigley-Miller (233.52). Having won in the dressage phase (40.82) on opening day, Weber opted to keep the same four-horse combination going into the marathon. It proved to be a wise choice as Weber piloted the carriage through a marathon phase designed by multiple world championship combined driving course designer Barry Hunter of Great Britain.
Leslie Cashion of the Hermitage Classic show committee had predicted, “One of our toughest hazards on marathon will be the newest one, which is an actual tepee and totem pole. It could present an interesting and challenging element.”
It proved to be nothing that Team Weber could not handle. “I used Zeppelin and Ultra in the lead and Danzer and Boris in the wheel in dressage, and drove the same team for marathon,” Weber explained. The result was a Marathon score of just 109.15, and after closing out their cones phase on a 24.30, all four matched bay KWPNs had proven themselves unstoppable.
Team up with Team Weber after yet another four-in-hand victory by following news, live posts, video and photo galleries, and preferred product reviews at www.chesterweber.com.
Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace of Mind, the 2015 USEF Single Horse Driving National Champions (Picsofyou.com)
Goshen, Ky. – Suzy Stafford led the field of seven combinations in the 2015 USEF Single Horse Driving National Championship from start to finish with PVF Peace of Mind at the Hermitage Classic CDE, finishing on a final score of 128.97. With three Single Pony National Championship titles (2004, 2008, and 2009) to her name, Stafford claimed her first Single Horse National Champion title. The top three on the leaderboard remained unchanged throughout the competition with Leslie Berndl and Sterling Graburn finishing second and third, respectively, behind Stafford.
Stafford (Wilmington, Del.) and her own 2007 Morgan mare began their championship campaign with a beautiful dressage test aside from a few minor bobbles. The Ground Jury of Debbie Banfield (USA), Dr. Klaus Christ (GER), Marie de Ronde-Oudemans (NED), Marsoe LaRose (CAN), and Sarah Mullins (IRL) awarded the pair a score of 40.64 to put them in the lead. Stafford drove determinedly over the tough marathon track designed by Barry Hunter (GBR), overcoming some breaks in concentration from her horse in the busy atmosphere. She and PVF Peace of Mind had a knockdown in obstacle six, and were helped in the marathon phase with their quickness and some luck, adding 86.07 penalty points to their score. They won the marathon phase, having the fastest times at obstacles one and five. The pair expertly navigated Hunter’s challenging cones course, collecting just 2.26 time penalties and finishing second in the phase. Stafford and PVF Peace of Mind’s three solid performances allowed them to remain atop the leaderboard throughout the competition and receive the National Champion honors.
“It feels awesome,” Stafford said of claiming the title. “Today was a little rough. She was overly excited from yesterday’s marathon so it was a little over zealous on her part, but we managed and finished well.”
Defending champion Berndl (Newcastle, Calif.) and her own Uminco claimed the Reserve Champion title with a final score of 143.01. She and the 2001 KWPN gelding had miscommunications in the trot and canter extensions across the diagonal in their dressage test but showed much expression and great halts and deviations to receive a score of 49.87. In the marathon phase, they struggled at obstacle four and had a knockdown in obstacle five, but redeemed themselves by being the fastest in three of the obstacles, collecting 90.14 penalty points. Berndl drove a fantastic cones course with Uminco with an unlucky ball down at the final cone at 20 for 3.00 penalty points, finishing third in the phase.
Graburn (Paris, Ky.) drove his and Laura Corsentino’s Mannkato, who has only been a driving horse for a short time, to third-place honors. Graburn and the 2001 Dutch Harness gelding’s dressage test displayed resistance in a few movements, but had a relaxed walk, powerful extended canter, and nice deviation movements, receiving a score of 52.69. Graburn and Mannkato had trouble at obstacle two in the marathon phase, but finished strongly, tackling the remaining obstacles confidently. The duo tallied 88.71 penalty points and finished second in the marathon phase, with the fastest times at obstacles three and four. In the cones phase Graburn and Mannkato finished within the time allowed but had balls down at 11 and 13 for 6.00 penalty points, ending up with a final score of 147.40.
Marcie Quast (Vass, N.C.) and Daphne White’s Halstead by Legacy, a 2005 Hackney mare, won the marathon phase with the only double-clear round in the championship division. They finished in fifth place overall.
Goshen, KY (October 16, 2015) – The sixth annual Hermitage Classic CDE and Fall Festival, October 16-18, officially began with the FEI 2* driving competition’s dressage phase on the grounds of Goshen, Kentucky’s historic Hermitage farm. The event has so far lived up to all promises of breathtaking landscapes, Kentucky southern socials, and, of course, the festival’s main attraction – world-class combined driving. Twelve-time USEF Four-in-Hand National Champion Chester Weber entered the dressage arena Friday morning with his dynamic KWPN team leading his carriage.
As Chester Weber went in to the Hermitage Classic’s FEI 2* opening phase of competition, he had a deep well of talent to draw from in his and Jane F. Clark’s team of KWPN bays. Weber brought Boris W, Danzer, Para, and Ultra, plus new talents Erik and Zeppelin Let’s W, to Goshen, Kentucky. “I used Zeppelin and Ultra in the lead, and Danzer and Boris in the wheel in the dressage phase,” Weber said.
His decision proved wise, as Team Weber’s results were nothing short of winning for the horseman dubbed ‘Mr. Dressage.’ Weber credited his team for their 40.82 points overall for the first-place position going into Saturday’s marathon: “The horses were great. I am very pleased with them all, and plan to drive the same team tomorrow.” Leading on a 74.5 percent overall, Team Weber will face the marathon questions of multiple world championship combined driving course designer Barry Hunter of Great Britain.
Questions, said Leslie Cashion of the Hermitage Classic CDE committee, that will demand drivers’ answers. “I think one of our toughest hazards in the marathon is the newest one, which is an actual tepee and totem pole. It presents an interesting and challenging element,” Cashion stated.
“We are excited for this year’s event to be bigger than ever and to be able to share the festival with the community,” said Cashion. “The Hermitage Classic CDE is growing bigger and reaching more people from farther away each year.”
As dressage concludes, Weber looks forward to driving into the marathon phase tomorrow, and maintaining his team’s strength throughout the entirety of the Hermitage Classic CDE. Team up with Team Weber and follow news, live posts, video and photo galleries, and preferred product reviews at www.chesterweber.com.