By Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department
Lexington, KY – Competitors in the USEF Preliminary Combined Driving National Championships displayed their skill at the Grand Oaks Combined Driving Event (CDE). Barbara Sims, Phillip Odden, and Raymond Helmuth took home national championship titles in their respective divisions after delivering top performances at the Grand Oaks Resort in Weirsdale, Fla.
USEF Preliminary Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship
Sims (Windsor, S.C.) and Erresistible lead from start to finish to earn the USEF Preliminary Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship title. They won the dressage phase with a beautiful test, earning 45.34 penalty points from the judges. Sims and her 12-year-old Dutch Harness mare laid down a strong marathon phase, tallying 50.99 penalty points. The duo had one ball down in the cones phase but held onto their lead, winning the overall title with a score of 99.33 penalty points.
“We won the Tryon CDE in September and that was [an American Driving Society] national championship. It was the last full CDE we did and we won that, so we knew we were probably one of the top contenders,” said Sims of her progress with Erresistible. “She is just a really nice moving pony with a lot of suspension. On top of that, she is a lover. She wants to be with you; She wants to be a pocket pony.”
Jackie Kane (Hudson, Mass.) and Prairie Song Fletcher claimed the reserve national champion title due to their consistent performances. Kane and her 12-year-old Welsh Pony gelding scored 57.95 penalty points in the dressage phase, then won the marathon phase after collecting 49.53 penalty points. They added 1.07 time penalties in the cones phase to finish on an overall score of 108.55 penalty points.
Denise Loewe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and GoGo Prince Grayjoy finished third overall in the division, starting the competition off by scoring 59.73 penalty points in the dressage phase. Loewe and her 5-year-old Welsh Pony gelding tallied 53.40 penalty points in the marathon phase. They finished on a high note by winning the cones phase with a double-clear round, ending on an overall score of 113.13 penalty points.
USEF Preliminary Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship
Odden (Barronett, Wisc.) and his homebreds Odden’s Karoline and Odden’s Petra wowed in their first CDE as a pair by winning a national champion title. They began the championship by winning the dressage phase with a score of 52.01 penalty points.
“I love dressage. For me, it is about performance art. I’m an artist, and driving horses is about performance art,” said Odden as he drew a comparison between his furniture making and woodcarving with combined driving.
Next, Odden and his Norwegian Fjord mares tackled the marathon phase, adding 57.63 penalty points to their score. They closed out the competition by delivering a double-clear cones round under pressure and claiming the overall win with a score of 109.64 penalty points.
“Tom Warriner with the Grand Oaks Resort did a wonderful job. It is an incredible facility; it is just really nice,” added Odden of the competition venue. “Kudos to Tom Warriner and his staff at Grand Oaks. It is a wonderful place to compete.”
Sixteen-year-old Riley Wiltison (Oakland, Md.) earned the reserve champion title with his Dartmoor Pony mares: Fiddle Makers Bottlerocket, Singletree Poker Alice, and Lizwell Gambling Queen. Wiltison showed poise by piloting his ponies to a dressage score of 56.46 penalty points. He and the ponies flew around the marathon course to win the phase, tallying 53.35 penalty points along the way. They won the cones phase with a fast, double-clear round, finishing on an overall score of 109.81 penalty points.
USEF Preliminary Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship
A carriage measurement error in the USEF Preliminary Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship resulted in the ground jury ruling, in the interest of fairness, to use the A+B results to determine the overall placings.
Helmuth (Cambridge, Iowa) and G.T.’s Finn (100%) started off the competition with a solid dressage test to score 49.79 penalty points. Helmuth and George Dickerson’s 5-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding climbed to the top of the leaderboard after winning the marathon phase, adding 53.91 penalty points. They finished on an overall score of 103.70 penalty points to win the national champion title.
Bob Vance (Jamestown, Tenn.) and Buckeye had a lovely dressage test to earn a score of 45.64 penalty points. Vance and his 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding had a strong marathon performance, tallying 58.72 penalty points. They finished on an overall score of 104.36 penalty points to collect the reserve national champion title.
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOPC, and USEF sponsors and members.