Tag Archives: Steve Wilson

Morgan, Whaley, Wilson, and Weber Claim USEF Combined Driving National Championship Titles

Tracey Morgan and Fuego 88 (Picsofyou.com)

Ocala, Fla. – Four USEF Combined Driving National Championships came to a close at Live Oak International on Sunday with the cones phase determining the national titles. Tracey Morgan, Katie Whaley, Steve Wilson, and Chester Weber, the leaders following Saturday’s marathon phase, held on to their leads to claim top honors in respective divisions.

USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Morgan (Beallsville, Md.) and Fuego 88 won all three phases to win the USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship. The duo had an excellent dressage test with great one-handed movements and quality canter work to win the dressage phase with a score of 48.54. Morgan and her own 2011 German Riding Pony gelding blazed around the marathon course, collecting 89.59 penalties and having the fastest times at obstacles two and five for the division. They had a winning cones performance, adding only a 0.43 time penalty to their overall score of 138.56.

“The course was very smooth; it had some interesting turns to it but it had flow to it. You could carry your speed but you had to be very careful in your angles and know where you wanted to go because it was hidden behind some very large jumps,” Morgan said of the ring which also contained show jumping fences for the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier presented by Golden Ocala Golf Equestrian Club happening later in the day. “I thought it was a really enjoyable cones course.”

Rebecca Gutierrez (Windsor, S.C.) and Naria BW6 had a solid dressage test to score 57.39 to sit in third place after the first day of competition. They followed that up with an equally good marathon performance to finish second in the phase, tallying 90.50 penalties and having the fastest time at obstacle six. Gutierrez and Richard Olson’s 2003 Haflinger mare had one ball down in the cones phase at cone seven for three course penalties and a 0.10 time penalty to finish third in the phase and clinch the Reserve Champion title with an overall score of 150.99.

Barbara Chapman (Metamora, Mich.) and Darlene Daly’s Maduro performed an obedient dressage test with good diagonal yields and deviations to score 56.54 to put them in second place on Thursday. They were third in the marathon phase with 95.36 penalties and had the fastest time at obstacle three. Chapman and the 2008 North American Sportpony gelding had a solid cones round with an unlucky ball down at cone 20 and 2.79 time penalties. They held on to finish in third place with an overall score of 157.69.

USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Defending-champion Whaley (Paris, Ky.) led from start to finish to claim her second consecutive USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship title. She had a great dressage test with her own and Barbara Sims’ Welsh geldings, highlighted by wonderful extended trot work, to win the phase with a score of 49.79. Whaley and her ponies had a winning marathon performance, collecting 91.04 penalties and having the fastest times in six of the seven obstacles. She had a fast, double-clear round to win the cones phase to clinch top honors with an overall score of 140.83.

“I loved the cones course. I thought it asked some pretty good questions,” Whaley said. “You had to get some speed, then you had to bring them back and turn well. You had to absolutely know where you were; [cone] 13 for a second vanished, but I really enjoyed it I thought [course designer Gabor Finta] did an excellent job.”

Jennifer Matheson (Aiken, S.C.) and Katrina Becker and Carina Crawford’s mixed pair had a respectable dressage test to finish third in the phase with a score of 63.06. They had some bobbles in the marathon phase, garnering 180.93 penalties, but had the fastest time at obstacle six. Matheson and her ponies finished strong, going double-clear in the cones phase to finish second in the phase and earn the Reserve Champion title with an overall score of 166.49.

Mary Phelps (Columbia, Ky.) had a smooth dressage test with her own American Shetland Pony pair to finish second in the phase with a score of 62.65. They were bold out on the marathon course, finishing second in the phase with 96.36 penalties. Phelps had four balls down with her ponies in the cones phase for 12 course penalties, finishing third in both the cones phase and the overall standings with a score of 171.01.

USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Defending-champion Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) and his own mixed KWPN and Lipizzaner pair had a smooth dressage test to finish second in the phase with a score of 55.04. They had a stellar marathon performance to win the phase, tallying 103.62 penalties and having the fastest times in six of the seven obstacles. Wilson and his pair finished second in the cones phase with six course penalties for two balls down and 2.79 time penalties, allowing them to earn their third consecutive USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship with an overall score of 167.33.

“Number 10 came up faster than I was planning, and I had to take a little bit of a wider turn than I wanted to, so I lost some time there,” Wilson said. “[The course] was well-designed and well-measured, and my horses had a nice stride so I did not have to worry about making up time; they were just comfortable on course, and I enjoyed it very much.”

Josh Rector (Dyke, Va.) and his, Jessica Buchanan, and Rainier Tanglao’s mixed pair had a workmanlike dressage test to score 70.26, finishing third in the phase. They finished second in the marathon with 106.00 and had the fastest time in obstacle three. Rector and his pair went double-clear in the cones phase to win the phase and earn Reserve Champion honors with an overall score of 176.26.

James Miller (Paris, Ky.) and wife Misdee Wrigley Miller’s Dutch Warmblood geldings had a lovely dressage test in his national championship debut, earning a score of 48.90 to win the phase. They had a respectable marathon performance, finishing third in the phase with 120.52 penalties. Miller and his pair had three balls down and 1.34 time penalties to finish third in the cones phase and third in the overall standings with a score of 182.76.

USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Defending-champion Weber (Ocala, Fla.) demonstrated great style with his team, which contained new horses, to claim his 14th USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship. He had an excellent dressage test with his, Jane Clark, and Fritz Grupe’s Dutch Warmblood geldings. They showed great harmony and performed lovely movements to score 36.51 to win the phase. They won the marathon phase with 112.96 penalties and had the fastest times in all of the obstacles. Weber and his team had one ball down at cone 18 and 2.23 time penalties to finish second in the cones phase with an overall score of 154.70.

Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)

“Today wasn’t my best day in the cones, but I was really pleased with the horses. This is the first time we have had this group together out [in competition]. There were jumps in the ring and a lot of spooky stuff that is sometimes tough with lead horses, but we learned some stuff and some questions were asked,” Weber said. “In general, I am really pleased. Our goal is Tryon [for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games] and I think we are on pace for having a successful go there.”

Misdee Wrigley Miller (Paris, Ky.) had strong performances throughout the competition on her way to earning the Reserve Champion title. She had a beautiful dressage test with her own Dutch Warmblood geldings to finish second in the phase with a score of 41.47. On marathon day, Wrigley Miller had a bobble at obstacle six, but finished strongly with 134.88 penalties to finish second once again. She and her team had two balls down at the B and D elements of cone six and 5.24 time penalties to finish third in the phase. They held on to earn the Reserve Champion title with an overall score of 187.59.

Allison Stroud (West Grove, Pa.) and Willow Star LLC’s Dutch Warmblood geldings had a great dressage test to score 51.79. They had some trouble in obstacle six and totaled 146.04 penalties in the marathon phase. Stroud and her team ended the competition on a high note by winning the cones phase with only 3.81 time penalties and finishing with an overall score of 201.64.

By Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department

Live Oak International Set to Host Four USEF Combined Driving National Championships

Leslie Berndl and Sweetwater’s Zorah Belle (Picsofyou.com)

Ocala, Fla. – Four combined driving national championship titles are up for grabs at Live Oak International, March 8-12. Run in conjunction with the FEI divisions, the USEF Combined Driving National Championships for single pony, pair pony, pair horse, and four-in-hand horse will be determined at the prestigious Live Oak Plantation. Leslie Berndl, Katie Whaley, Steve Wilson, and Chester Weber are the defending champions in their respective divisions and aim to give winning performances. With the FEI World Driving Championships for Pairs and Ponies taking place this summer, pair horse and pony competitors also hope to impress selectors in one of the final selection trials in North America.

USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

A field of nine seasoned competitors will converge in the hotly contested USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship. Berndl (Newcastle, Calif.) brings Sweetwater’s Zorah Belle with hopes of adding another title to their resume. She and “Zoobie”, Teressa Kandianis’ 2004 Norwegian Fjord Horse mare, closed out a successful 2016 season by winning the USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship at the Kentucky Classic CDE. They are set to kick off another solid season, but Tracey Morgan (Beallsville, Md.) and Fuego 88 will provide tough competition. She and her own 2011 German Riding Pony gelding are world champion competitors and were last year’s reserve champions.

USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

The 2016 champion, Katie Whaley (Paris, Ky.), will lead a small but mighty field of three competing for the USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship. She and her own and Barbara Sims’ Welsh geldings had a commanding performance at Kentucky Classic CDE last fall to claim the national title, and they have maintained their top form this year, winning the CAI2*-P2 division at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades. Jennifer Matheson (Aiken, S.C.) and Mary Phelps (Columbia, Ky.) will be hot on Whaley’s heels with their talented ponies.

USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

A field of three will also contest the USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship. Defending champion Steve Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) and his own mixed KWPN and Lipizzaner pair aim to win their third consecutive national title. They began the 2017 season with a win at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades, and hope to maintain their momentum at Live Oak International. Joining Wilson are Josh Rector (Dyke, Va.), a four-in-hand driver shifting focus to the pair horse division in 2017, and James Miller (Sarasota, Fla.), a promising driver in his first year of competing in combined driving.

Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)

USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Among a field of four seasoned drivers, Chester Weber (Ocala, Fla.) aims to win his 14th title in the USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship in front of his hometown crowd. He and his and Jane Clark’s Dutch Warmblood geldings won all of their U.S. competitions and finished in the top five in their European competitions in 2016. They put in a winning performance at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades to start 2017. Weber will face stiff competition from Allison Stroud (West Grove, Pa.) and Misdee Wrigley Miller (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.), his 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games teammates, and Paul Maye (Fairfield, Va.), an experienced driver who has found success after changing his focus to the four-in-hand horse division less than a year ago.

Watch the live stream of all classes taking place in the Competition Arena at Live Oak International beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.

By Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department

Wilson Scores Back-to-Back USEF Pair Horse Driving National Championship Titles at Hermitage Classic CDE

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.

Find out more about the Hermitage Classic CDE and view complete results.

By Kathleen Landwehr