By US Equestrian Communications Department
Chester Weber earned a milestone victory this weekend, posting his 20th career USEF National Championship title in the Advanced Four-in-Hand division. The win took place on home soil for Weber at the 2023 Live Oak International, held on his family’s scenic farm in Ocala, Fla.
Weber drove his team of bay KWPN geldings, First Edition, Julius V, Kadora, and Kasper D, in the dressage and cones phase. The veteran competitor Amadeus stepped in for relative newcomer Kasper D for the marathon phase.
Starting strong with a penalty score of 38.19 in the dressage phase, Weber and his team overcame an error in the first obstacle on the marathon course and maintained a comfortable lead in the National Championship division with quick and clear completions of the remaining five obstacles. They secured the title on Sunday after a three-fault cones round, finishing on a score of 162.47.
“I was really pleased with the horses,” said Weber. “It’s a little bit of a newer group; we’re working on sort of a new generation. There are a couple of new guys and some guys in different positions, but I was really pleased with them. In dressage, having a sub-40 score was my goal, so I was really pleased with that because there was definitely a seasoned international group of judges. I was super pleased with the horses and how they showed up for that. For the marathon, I had a little bit of hiccup going to the first gate in the first obstacle, and that was a slight shock. But once we got there and were able to build some rhythm through the rest of that obstacle and the horses sort of fell into form and were really great for the rest of the obstacles.”
Earning the landmark win at the Live Oak International event that Weber has helped to build and grow over the years offered an opportunity for reflection. In addition to its signature combined driving event, Live Oak International now includes a jumping competition with an FEI World Cup qualifier and community-focused activities and exhibitions.
“It’s really grown over 32 years into the wonderful showcase for the driving sport, and it’s become a piece of the community in Ocala,” said Weber. “People really look forward to it, and it’s become sort of a weekend in the country. Even with some rain on Saturday, the bleachers were full, and people were excited to see horse sport at the highest level.”