Suzy Stafford and Demi Mer winning at The Grand Oaks Classic in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Suzy Stafford)
Ocala, FL (March 25, 2014) – Suzy Stafford believes in starting horses young and correctly. That’s why she’s excited about the USEF Young Horse Championship and Festival, held at the Kentucky Horse Park in the fall of 2014.
The USEF Young Horse Championship and Festival showcases and identifies the best young horses in the United States in dressage, driving, eventing, and hunter/jumper. The event promotes American-bred horses and features a competition hosting horses ages four through seven years, and in-hand evaluations by a panel of experts for yearlings to three year olds. The goal is to provide educational opportunities regarding breeding and development of young horses.
The inaugural show for this program was held February 20-23 at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala. Stafford was named to her tenth USEF Long List since 2000, and she drove two horses for their owners in this developing program. Stafford brought home the win with the 4-year-old KWPN Dutch gelding Funnominal C.G., owned by Carol Ann Gross.
She also drove River Trip, a Warmblood gelding owned by Margi and John Cox, to a third place finish in the 6-year-old division. “The driving sport has needed this type of program for some time now,” said Stafford. “I have seen how it has helped the other disciplines channel focus for the breeders and trainers of theses talented young horses. I am excited to help give quality training, and acknowledge talent with an organized training plan to breeders. I feel this program will also provide a much needed sale market for well bred, correctly started driving horses.”
In 2004, Suzy Stafford stepped into the world spotlight as the youngest and first American driver to win individual Gold in an international driving competition, driving the Welsh gelding Cefnoakpark Bouncer to first place in the 2005 World Pony Driving Championships in England. Since then she has collected countless World and National titles and remains deeply involved in her sport, training, competing and teaching students and holding clinics at her Stafford Carriage Driving.
“Driving is my passion and I love representing my country by doing what I love best,” she says. “I have a great team who really supports me. The backing of my sponsors, owners and clients makes this possible. We are a team and I am so grateful for that.”
Suzy is pleased that the new USEF Young Horse program creates a greater market for breeders and rewards breeders, trainers, owners and handlers/riders of young horses while creating an incentive to buy, own and show young horses
Suzy Stafford’s interest in horses began at a young age. She rose through the ranks of United States Pony Club, where excelling in combined training. In 1998, she completed American Riding Instructors Program certification in dressage and combined training. After a leg injury ended her riding career, she channeled her competitive drive towards a new equine sport: carriage driving.
In 2001, Stafford began working with seven-time United States National Pair Combined Driving Champion Lisa Singer and took every opportunity to work with many different breeds in both pleasure showing and combined driving. Stafford soon became Singer’s assistant trainer and honed her skills to become a noted trainer, instructor, and clinician.
Stafford now competes on the national and international stage, and has added many championship performances and medal finishes.
Staying at the top of one’s game means working with the best, and Stafford has trained with many world champion drivers. Setting a solid foundation of basic skills for students is a priority for Stafford, who helps them gain confidence and proficiency. Teaching at her two training locations, Aiken, SC, and Coatesville, PA, as well as traveling to clinics and giving seminars, enables her to share her knowledge with other driving enthusiasts and competitive drivers.
Stafford operates her Stafford Carriage Driving facility out of Chester County in Pennsylvania from April to December and is stationed in Ocala, Florida from January through April. To learn more about Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com.