Lexington, VA - October 17, 2011 – Decorated driver Suzy Stafford hasn’t let her success at the 2011 World Pony Driving Championships in Lipica slow her down. Recently returned from Slovenia where she drove the half-Arabian mare Miss Joesphine to an Individual Bronze Medal, Stafford hasn’t been back in the United States for a month before earning another championship title.
She drove Sjaantje, a 6-year-old Friesian mare, to the National Championship in the Friesian Carriage Pleasure Driving Open division at the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) World and Grand National. The mare’s owner, Gail AuMiller of Dreams Come True Farm in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, drove Sjaantje to top honors in the Amateur Carriage Pleasure Driving division and the pair also took the Reinsmanship Championship.
The IFSHA World and Grand National took place October 5-9, 2011 in Lexington, Virginia. The IFSHA is dedicated to the promotion, showing, and exhibition of the Friesian horse and its derivatives, and the Championships featured a wide range of disciplines. This year’s carriage driving classes were the largest driving classes to date at the Friesian National Championships, and Sjaantje, also known as “SJ”, proved her mettle by earning top placement while showing against some of the top members of her breed.
“I have been training “SJ” and Gail since the spring, and I am so proud of both of them,” said Stafford. “The mare is kind, talented, and has great instincts. There is nothing quite like a mare’s intuition and this girl has it in spades! It was a pleasure driving such a high quality animal with a temperament to match.”
Stafford, who operates Stafford Carriage Driving out of Chester County, Pennsylvania, was the youngest and first American driver to win an Individual Gold Medal with Cefnoakpark Bouncer at the 2005 World Pony Driving Championships in England. Since then she has continued to drive to success, being named the 2005 Driver of the Year by Chronicle of the Horse, winning the 2008 and 2009 National Single Pony Championship with Courage to Lead, and being awarded the Becky Hart Trophy in 2009. In 2011, Stafford Miss Josephine put in a brilliant performance at the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Slovenia where they were awarded with the Individual Bronze Medal, Stafford’s second consecutive Individual Bronze. Stafford and Miss Josephine were competing as individuals for Team USA, marking the first time a Registered Arabian competed for the United States.
For more information on Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com.
Photo: Champion Driver Suzy Stafford and Sjaantje, a 6-year-old Friesian mare, took the National Championship in the Friesian Carriage Driving Open class at the IFSHA World and Grand National. (Photo courtesy of Rick Osteen)