Donna Crookston starts down the path to World Championship selection with a win in the driving trial.
The one thing you could be sure of at the Black Prong Driving Trial, March 15-16, was that you couldn’t be sure of anything.
Lisa Singer competed at intermediate level. Larry Poulin didn’t do the marathon. Boyd Excell drove Randy Cadwell’s pony on the marathon. Drivers who normally compete at one level drove in another level, or even more than one.
"Pony Power” was strong last summer after the United States won medals at the World Combined Pony Championship held in Knabstrup, Denmark, in July.
Miranda Cadwell, the Chronicle’s Driving Horseman of the Year, won an individual gold medal with her pair of Welsh Cobs, and the team won the bronze medal. This is the second time that a U.S. pony driver has won an individual gold medal–Suzy Stafford did it in 2005 with Sybil Humphreys’ Cefnoakpark Bouncer, but this is the first team medal for the ponies.
Somewhere in the last few years, somebody called driving the fastest-growing equestrian sport. I don`t know who made that determination, and I don`t believe that the numbers support that claim. But it doesn`t matter because I would argue that the driving fraternity is absolutely dedicated and committed to the discipline they`ve chosen.
The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 have had a tremendous impact on everyone, putting things in perspective, making us appreciate our freedom, our family, friends, and the companionship of our animals. I'm sure most of us were comforted by just being around our horses, ponies, dogs and cats.
The driving community has always been a small, close-knit fraternity, and this has been even more evident these past few months. In comparison to the unrest in the world, and between other equestrian groups, life in the driving community was quite stable in 2001.
Although people in the equestrian world like to consider carriage driving as one discipline, driving really contains much more variety than any of its sibling disciplines. Within the driving discipline we have combined driving, pleasure driving, dressage driving, endurance driving, coaching and more. We drive horses and ponies, of all breeds and sizes, and each has its strong advocates.
Driving is really a jewel with many facets, and some shine more brilliantly than others.
Alan Aulson's five-day cross-country haul from Massachusetts with his pair of Morgans proved worthwhile, as he won the USEF National Pairs Championship, Oct. 6-8.
The championship took place during the CAI-B Shady Oaks at Fritz and Phyllis Grupe's farm in Lodi, Calif. Despite the fact that Aulson was the only East Coast driver to make the trek, the class was filled with eight pairs.
For U.S. team members Eleanor Gallagher, Fred Merriam and Scott Monroe, the hills of Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, provided a rollercoaster ride, beginning at the top in dressage and plunging to the bottom during the marathon. Just when their dream of standing on the medal podium at the World Singles Driving Championships was coming into focus, it quickly faded.
It took a little longer for individual driver Sterling Graburn's dream to fade. The highest placing U.S. driver, finishing 18th, he had a fantastic marathon but lost a top placing in the final cones phase.
In 27 years, Katie Whaley has only missed one Walnut Hill Farm Carriage Driving Competition, but she had a good excuse--she was in Europe competing in a World Championship. In those 26 years, she's probably accumulated more championship ribbons than anyone else.
This year, Whaley added three more championship and three more reserve championship ribbons to her already impressive collection from Walnut Hill, held Aug. 16-20 in Pittsford, N.Y.