The thrilling sport of combined driving is back this weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. The three phases of combined driving—driven dressage, the cross-country marathon, and obstacle (“cones”) driving—began Thursday and Friday with two full days of dressage. The Lexington Combined Driving Classic runs through Sunday, October 5.
Next year, this same event will host the 2009 U.S. National Championships in all six divisions of combined driving—singles, pairs, and teams of both horses and ponies. Two years from now, also at the Kentucky Horse Park, the World Championship in four-in-hand driving (horses) and seven other horse sports will be contested at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Multiple National Pairs Champion, Lawrence Poulin competed two weeks ago at the USDF/GAIG Region 8 Dressage Finals winning the Prix St Georges Reserve Championship with one of his Holstiener pairs by Hilltop Farm's Riverman. Poulin is the only competitor in the USA who comptetes at the FEI level in both Driving and Dressage.
This year’s event features 70 competitors in all six combined driving divisions—single horses, single ponies, pairs of both horses and ponies, and four-in-hand teams of horses and ponies—and is being contested at the preliminary, intermediate, and advanced (FEI) levels. Thursday’s dressage competition featured all the advanced divisions and the intermediate teams of horses. The remaining intermediate divisions and all preliminary divisions performed their dressage tests on Friday. Judging the dressage were Diana Brownlie (Great Britain), Klaus Christ (Germany), and Martha Nicoll (USA).
At the end of the dressage phase, the following drivers are leading their divisions.
Preliminary single pony:
Janelle Marshall (SC), driving a Connemara, leads with 45.78 penalty points
Preliminary single horse:
Meg Dumaine (KY) leads with 51.78 penalty points
Preliminary pony pair:
Caroline Whittle (NC), driving a pair of Haflingers, leads with 59.78 penalty points
Preliminary horse pair:
Rachel Niceley (TN), driving a pair of Friesian-cross horses, leads with 67.56 penalty points
Intermediate single pony:
Debbie Schuster (OH), driving a Welsh pony, leads with 47.56 penalty points
Intermediate single horse:
Kimberly Stover (DE), driving a Connemara/TB cross, leads with 44.44 penalty points
Intermediate pony pair:
Michelle Walters (TN), driving a pair of Dartmoors, leads with 62.67 penalty points
Intermediate horse pair:
Gary Wasserman (FL), driving a team of Dutch Harness Horses, leads with 54.89 penalty points
Intermediate four-in-hand team of horses:
Gavin Robson (OH), driving a team of Dutch Harness Horses, leads with 57.78 penalty points
Advanced single pony:
Suzie Stafford (FL), driving a Morgan, leads with 52.27 penalty points
Advanced single horse:
Sherri Lower (FL), driving an Oldenburg, leads with 55.25 points
Advanced pony pair:
Boots Wright (FL), driving a mixed pair, leads with 58.24 points
Advanced horse pair:
Larry Poulin (MA), driving a mixed pair of warmbloods, leads with 45.65 points
Advanced four-in-hand of ponies (only one competitor in this division):
Elizabeth Keathley (TN), driving Welsh ponies, received a score of 73.81
Advanced four-in-hand of horses:
Olof Larsson (FL), driving Chester Weber’s team of Dutch Warmbloods, leads with 50.35 penalty points.