Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2024

Monroe Overcomes Last-Minute Error For Gladstone Title

Scott Monroe provided a cliffhanger ending to theGladstone Fall Driving Event, Sept. 22-25, when he and his Bethesda After Dark overcame a wrong turn in the cones to finish with a double-clear round to earn the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Single Horse title in Gladstone, N.J.

"I knew after the 13th set of cones I had to turn left to pick up 14 and head toward the bridge, so I kept saying to myself, '13-left, 13-left.' Then, when I came to 12, I took a left before 13," he recalled. "As I was going by it, I looked to my right and saw 13 and said, 'Oh shoot.' "

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Scott Monroe provided a cliffhanger ending to theGladstone Fall Driving Event, Sept. 22-25, when he and his Bethesda After Dark overcame a wrong turn in the cones to finish with a double-clear round to earn the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Single Horse title in Gladstone, N.J.

“I knew after the 13th set of cones I had to turn left to pick up 14 and head toward the bridge, so I kept saying to myself, ’13-left, 13-left.’ Then, when I came to 12, I took a left before 13,” he recalled. “As I was going by it, I looked to my right and saw 13 and said, ‘Oh shoot.’ “

But Monroe quickly corrected himself and finished within the time allowed. “I knew the clock was ticking and time had to be made up,” he said.

Monroe, a full-time arborist who runs his own tree care company in Sharon, Conn., bet on saving seconds on the straightaway approach to the bridge. “I knew ‘Shadow’ is a sprinter, so we went for it,” he said.

With the tricolor in hand, Monroe admitted, “I am stunned. This is one of my dreams come true. When this came up, I said Shadow deserves a crack at the national title.”

But Monroe’s mistake almost robbed Shadow of his title. “The FEI has crunched the time so much on the advanced people now,” said Monroe, who took a year off from competition after he and Shadow came in as the highest-placed U.S. pair at the 2004 World Single Horse Championship.

“And the way Richard [Nicoll] builds these cones courses, you know it is going to be a very challenging course because of the way he designed the hazards. But Shadow turned on the afterburners. He can trot as fast as he can canter, so I used that to make up for my booboos.”

Monroe trains Shadow himself but credits his instructor/navigator/groom for the last eight years, Margaret Beeman, for his successes.

At The Laurels (Pa.) event two weeks earlier, Monroe made a similar mistake in cones, which cost him the blue ribbon. Sterling Graburn won that event, while Monroe was third. Ironically, Graburn and his Belgian Warmblood Quincey came in second to Monroe at Gladstone, making that pair the reserve champions. Both men want to make a bid for the U.S. team headed to the 2006 championships in Italy.

Monroe found his 15.2-hand black gelding through conversation at a holiday party. “I really didn’t want to go to that party, but I did with my wife,” he recalled with a chuckle.

A friend at the party asked him what his dream horse would be like, so Monroe gave her a description. “She said, ‘That’s exactly the horse I know of for sale.’ “

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She knew of an older man who hadbought a pair of Morgans from out West but now had to sell them. Monroe contacted him, but the man wanted the twosome to go as a pair. When Monroe balked at that, the man offered to sell him Shadow, “but for $500 more than I wanted to pay,” Monroe recalled.

Monroe got what he was looking for, a descendent of Wyoming Flyhawk, the Morgan stallion whose predecessors used to work cattle on the ranges and serve as military mounts. Monroe likes that line because they are bigger boned, sturdier but high spirited and forward going.

“I have a nephew of Shadow’s named Teton Avenger who is an 8-year-old Idaho-bred. I hope to bring him out as a single next year,” he said.

A Birthday Win

Kim Stover purchased Tony, winner of the preliminary single horse class, after seeing the then 4-year-old on videos sent to her by friends Laurie and Kelly Bruder. They bought the Canadian-bred at a Mennonite horse auction near Ontario.

“We don’t know much about his breeding except he is supposed to be a Standardbred-Hackney cross,” Stover said of the 5-year-old bay.

“He is such a character, but with quirks,” said Stover, of Singletree Farm in Symrna, Del. “He will turn around and look at you and you wonder, ‘What is he thinking?’ He has a very quick mind.”

Stover made her victory a birthday present for her mother, who came with Stover’s father to the show from their home in Massachusetts.

Stover and her bay equine partner had also won at The Laurels and taken top ribbons earlier in the year at Oak Hill (Va.), Lord Stirling (N.J.) and the Garden State CDEs (N.J.).

“We’ve been taking our time with him in the last year and a half, getting to know each other,” said Stover. “He keeps getting better and better each time I take him out. I will take him intermediate in the spring. Maybe then we will go advanced in the fall, but I know from experience not to put all my eggs in one basket.”

Stover has qualified for three World Championships, but twists of fate have kept her from making the finals, including in 2002 when she was an alternate. “It’s been so close, yet so far,” she said with a sigh.

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Wendy Ying of Vernon, Fla., co-owns the Sport Welsh Cobs, Duke and Dante, with Sterling Graburn. She made the Gladstone preliminary pair horse class her second vic-tory with the black 5-year-old sons of Minyffordd Megastar. Earlier in the season Ying, a veterinarian, won the pair class at the Winchester (Vt.) CDE. She also has driven them in tandem and shown them as singles.

At 15.1 hands, “they are just barely horses, but I have foxhunted them and even rode one side saddle,” she said.

Ying has been showing Mike and Lydia Smith’s Section D Welsh Cob, Minyffordd Megastar, and competed as an individual at the World Combined Pony Driving Championships (England) last summer. The Smiths are using him to cross on Irish Draught mares to produce the Sport Cob type.

A Special Place

Fjords “are short, fat, blonde and like me, are Scandinavians and robust,” said Vivian Creigh with a laugh. But her Nordy and Jania can win in spectacular fashion, which the 12-year-old, 14-hand brown dun mares proved as they took the preliminary pony pairs class.

“These mares give me 110 percent,” said Creigh, of Springfield, Vt.

Creigh imported both mares from the Netherlands, getting Nordy five years ago. Jania came to Creigh’s farm as a 2-year-old because Creigh owned her full brother and had won the intermediate class at Gladstone with him in 1999. He was a fabulous mover, said Creigh, who thought his full sister would be like him.

“She is a fabulous mover, too, but not very brave. She was better as a single, and I drove her that way for a long time. This is her first year competing in all three phases in a pair.”

Creigh became interested in the breed 18 years ago. The former hunter/jumper rider had done the A-rated circuit as a junior and wanted to get back into horses, specifically to breed them. “I was attracted to Fjords because they are unusual and have been purebreds for a long time. Their gene pool was more specific and I could track lines,” she said.

She had not known of combined driving when she got her first Fjord mare, but Robin Groves introduced her to the sport. In 1989 Creigh took her first Fjord mare to Gladstone and won a training class.

“Gladstone was only my second show, and we won it, from beginning to end. It holds a special place in my heart,” she said. “From then on, I was hooked on combined driving.”

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