Lexington, KY - At the 2011 FEI World Pair Driving Championship in Conty, France, American Joe Yoder drove to sixth place Friday in the dressage and the American team - all three drivers making their International Championship debut - sits in fifth place heading into Saturday's marathon. Led by Chef d'Equipe Chester Weber and Coach Michael Freund, the U.S. is being represented by Yoder, the 2011 USEF National Pair Driving Champion, and Katherin Dancer and Misdee Wrigley-Miller. The trio drove at Reisenbeck CAI in July and earned valuable international experience as they represent their country this week.
Thursday morning marked the beginning of the dressage competition phase and it was Wrigley-Miller drawn as the first and only U.S. competitor on opening day. Wrigley-Miller is in the top half of the pack of 69 drivers, in 20th place on a score of 52.86. The pressure then passed to Dancer and Yoder on Friday. Dancer is in 34th individually with a score of 58.88. Yoder's impressive sixth-place mark of 44.03 means the team sits in fifth with 96.9 penalties. Germany leads with 84.1 over Switzerland, The Netherlands, and France. The top two scores from each phase count for the Team Classification.
Individually, German Driver Carola Deiner leads with a score of 35.58.
"It was extremely muddy and we had to work through it," Yoder said of his dressage test. "It was a good test and the horses were good, but it was quite muddy throughout the test. It is a lot more work when it is like that, a lot more rein handling to keep the horses more supple and more forward. You do lose some impulsion in the mud, it is more difficult for the horses. I am quite pleased with how the horses went, and I'm pleased with the score I received."
Yoder, 30, who began to make a name for himself in 2010 driving a four-in-hand, recently relocated from his Montana home to Aiken, SC, where he drives for Jack Wetzel.
The U.S. Drivers will now turn their focus to Saturday's marathon. "The marathon is tight and open in the hazards, there are multiple routes to take," Yoder said, adding that the course shouldn't get any muddier as Friday the sun is expected to come out. "If you want tight you can take tight lines, but overall the marathon looks fairly decent. It is a tough, tight course but it looks doable."
Follow the U.S. Driving Team on the event website: http://www.avscompetition.com. Complete results are available at: http://www.hoefnet.nl/nl/home/site/uitslagen/d4f4fb9b3ef418a2303431725a6f047a and check www.USEFNetwork.com for photos, videos, reports, and information about the U.S. drivers throughout the week.
Read the latest World Driving Pair Championship blog entry from guest contributor James Mather Miller at:http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2011DrivingWorldChampionships.
Photos: Joe Yoder at the 2011 FEI World Driving Pair Championship. Photo: Marie de Ronde; Joe Yoder and Misdee Wrigley-Miller at the 2011 FEI World Driving Championship. Photo: Marie de Ronde.