Believing in the motto “practice makes perfect,” Gold Medalist Combined Driver Suzy Stafford competed at the Elk Creek CDE, held at Fair Hill in Maryland, with the hopes of perfecting the training and skills of two of her talented ponies. Stafford drove away all smiles following the event, saying she was pleased with the progress of each of her equine partners including her registered half-Arabian mare, Miss Josephine, who is long-listed for the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Europe.
“I wanted to use Elk Creek as a schooling event to prepare Josephine for her European debut at the World Pony Championships, which will be held in Slovenia in September,” Stafford said. “I was just schooling Josie so I didn't finished the marathon, but she won the best dressage and cones in the advanced division. Josie is in a good place right now in her training program and we are improving our dressage score every time out.”
Stafford said her goal is to not have Josie peak too early, as she wants the pony’s ultimate performance to be in September. While Josephine will make her debut at the World Pony Driving Championships, Stafford is a veteran of the championships and in 2005 won an Individual Gold Medal with Cefnoakpark Bouncer, a Team Bronze with Bouncer in 2007 and an Individual Bronze with Courage To Lead in 2009. “My goal for the 2011 World Pony Driving Championships is to win medals and represent the United States to the best of our ability,” Stafford said.
Stafford also competed Peace of Mind, known as Hunny around the barn, at Elk Creek and said the four-year-old Morgan acted liked she had “been there and done that.” “For such a young horse, Hunny was awesome,” Stafford said. “She won the dressage with a very low score of 35, which I thought was very exciting. I took my time with her on the marathon as it is a lot to ask of a four-year-old, but she still ended up second in the class due to time penalties.”
Stafford, who stays busy training, competing and teaching students and clinics, said she is excited about competing in the World Championships once again. “Driving is my passion and I love representing my country by doing what I love best,” Stafford said. “I don’t do it alone, however, as I have a great team of sponsors who really support me, both financially and through products. Traveling overseas with all of the equipment, carriages and horse is extremely expensive. The backing of my sponsors, owners and clients make this possible for me. We are a team and I am so grateful for that.”
Stafford operates her Stafford Carriage Driving facility out of Chester County in Pennsylvania from April to December and is stationed in Aiken, South Carolina from January through April. To learn more about Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com.
|Suzy Stafford, a National and World Champion Combined Driver who has been long-listed for the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships, competed Miss Josephine and Peace of Mind at the Elk Creek CDE in Maryland. Stafford is shown here with Peace of Mind during their winning dressage test. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Long)|
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