Suzy Stafford’s interest in horses began at a young age. She rose through the ranks of United States Pony Club in her early years where she excelled in eventing. In 1998, she completed the American Riding Instructors Program certification in dressage and combined training. After a leg injury ended her riding career, she channeled her competitive drive towards a new equine sport: carriage driving. So in 2001, Stafford began working with seven-time U.S. National Pair Combined Driving Champion Lisa Singer and took every opportunity to work with many different breeds in both pleasure showing and combined driving. Stafford soon became Singer’s assistant trainer and honed her skills to become a noted trainer, instructor, and clinician.
Now with her own highly successful coaching, training, and competition program based in Coatesville, Pa. and Ocala, Fla., Stafford has become one of the world’s best High Performance drivers with a multitude of national and international titles to her credit. In 2005, she became the youngest and first (and to date, the only) American driver to win an individual gold medal in a World Championship with Cefnoakpark Bouncer at the 2005 FEI World Pony Driving Championship in England, and was named 2005 Driver of the Year by The Chronicle of the Horse. In 2007, she and Bouncer returned to the World Championships in Denmark and helped the U.S. Team win a bronze medal.
Meanwhile, Stafford was also forging a new partnership with Courage to Lead as they drove to victory in the 2008 National Single Pony Championship and the North American FEI Challenge. The following year, the pair earned a second consecutive national title in Kentucky as well as traveled to Germany where they won an individual bronze medal at the 2009 FEI World Pony Driving Championships. As a result of this success, Stafford was named as a USEF Equestrian of Honor, awarded the coveted Becky Hart Trophy, and honored as the 2009 Horseman of the Year by The Chronicle of the Horse; at the same time, Courage to Lead was named as a Farnam®/Platform™ Horse of Honor by the USEF. Not one to rest on her laurels, Stafford returned to the world stage in 2011 to win the Reserve National Single Pony Championship title, the Florida Triple Crown, and earn the individual silver medal at the FEI World Pony Combined Driving Championships in Lipica, Slovenia with a registered half Arabian mare, Josephine.
Now with her U.S.-bred Morgan mare PVF Peace of Mind, Stafford is once again in the winner’s circle and is followed by legions of devoted fans. In just a few years together in the sport, she and “Hunny” have already reached unbelievable heights: the pair are back-to-back USEF National Single Horse Driving Champions (2015 & 2016); three-time FEI 2* Advanced Single Horse Champions at Live Oak International (2014, 2015, 2016); and have earned an unbelievable five straight victories to date at the international 2*/Advanced level, often winning by an unheard-of double-digit margin. In January of 2016, Hunny made history by becoming the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) 2015 International Horse of the Year, presented in years past to legends of American equestrian sport. This was only the second time in history that an equine athlete competing in combined driving has been presented this honor, and the first time a Morgan has claimed this title. In addition, Hunny was then inducted into the EQUUS Foundation/USEF Hall of Fame. The pair are now poised to help carry the USA’s medal hopes onto the podium at this summer’s 2016 FEI World Single Horse Championships in Piber, Austria.
Stafford is also renowned for her success in the breed ring and in national carriage shows, most notably with both Morgans and Friesians, including becoming the first trainer/driver in North America to qualify for and complete the Friesian Driving Sport Predicate Title with Sjaantje in 2012. In addition to her extensive training program, Stafford also acts as a clinician, coach and mentor to driving enthusiasts across the country, including students who are now becoming U.S. Team prospects themselves through the USEF Developing Driver Program.