Gold medalist Suzy Stafford’s registered half-Arabian mare Miss Josephine put her best hoof forward in the dressage phase of the German National Pony Championships in Minden, Germany, placing second amongst a highly competitive field. Stafford and several other members of the U.S. team competed at Minden in preparation for the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Slovenia.
“Josie and I started out well on dressage day. We came in second in dressage behind another U.S. pony team driver Shelly Temple. I was thrilled as Shelly and Cooper have been a pair for many years and have proven themselves as the dressage favorite in the States. Josie put in one of her best performances to date and I was overjoyed with how she did. Josie has only shown in the advanced level five times including Minden,” Stafford said.
Stafford said the marathon day was just as successful for Josie. “We had a good round and I was pleased how fit and ready she felt throughout the whole course. The rain the night before made for some slippery conditions but with the help of Janelle Marshal, my ‘rent a gator’ and Team Australia pony driver, we had a safe and note worthy score. I felt Josie and my timing was a bit off due to the lapse of time in between shows, but now I feel the practice Josie and I had at Minden will help prepare us for the challenges ahead,” Stafford said.
Stafford and Josie were in second place going into the cones division, however, things didn’t go as smoothly as Stafford hoped. “We dropped to 11th place after the cones, which was very disappointing,” Stafford said. “But I will use this unfortunate circumstance to become a better driver, trainer and student under the influence of our coach Michael Freund. I think the cones issue was a biting problem in hindsight, so we have worked on that and should have things sorted out for the Championships.”
“I was pleased overall with how Josie traveled overseas and her performance in the show. She is getting better and better every week,” Stafford continued. “Josie has an amazing heart and loves a challenge, which is what makes her a fantastic international competitor.”
When Stafford and Josie compete in the World Pony Driving Championships, Josie will be the first Arabian to compete for the United States. “Arabians are a very versatile breed and they really can excel in any discipline,” Stafford said. Stafford and Josie became partners in September of 2010, and earlier this year they won the Reserve National Single Pony Championships at Live Oak International.
For more information on Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com. Stafford is currently raising funds for her trip to the World Championships and donations can be made directly through her website.
|National and World Champion Combined Driver Suzy Stafford and her half-Arabian Miss Josephine competed at the German National Pony Championships in Minden, Germany, placing second in the dressage phase. (Photo courtesy of Bettina Ruckelshaus)|
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