Lexington, KY – With a score of 47.20, Diane Kastama of Arroyo Grande, CA, won the Grade 1 Individual Gold medal at the 2006 FEI World Carriage Driving Championships for Drivers with Disabilities in Mensport, Hellendoorn, The Netherlands. Kastama drove Jasper, her 11-year-old Welsh Cob gelding. She and her teammate Mary Gray competed alongside athletes from 60 different countries. The event was held September 6-10 and occurs every two years.
Both members of Team USA 2006 included two team veterans – Kastama and Gray from North Yarmouth, ME. Gray drove a Norwegian Fjord mare named Tatum, owned by the National Fjord Stud of Holland. Kastama competed against 13 individuals from six countries. Members of the Great Britain team came in second and third individually. In the team competition, Kastama and Gray came in third with a score of 107.80. Great Britain took first place with Germany second.
Kastama has competed for the U.S. in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Before winning the Individual Gold this year, she brought home the Silver Individual medal in 2002. Last year, serving on the team with Gray and Gene Hagberg, they scored an overall fifth place.
This year was monumental for the U.S. on many levels. For the first time, the United States Driving for the Disabled (USDFD) partnered with the USEF Para-Equestrian High Performance Committee in both the choice of drivers and in preparing for the competition. Also, for the first time ever, the team was able to send one of their own horses—Kastama’s Jasper. Gray was able to borrow one of the most famous Norwegian Fjord stallions in The Netherlands. Previously, U.S. drivers leased or borrowed horses from the host country during the competition.
The USDFD team has a strong history of bringing home medals with three Team Bronze medals (1994 non-FEI), two Individual Gold medals (1994 non-FEI), three Individual Silver medals (one in 2002, which was the first year for pairs non-FEI), and one Individual Bronze for the first FEI recognized pair competition.
Combined driving is about 30 years old, but is a fast-developing sport. The first year the United States participated in this international competition was 1994 in Hartbury, England. The first actual FEI World Championship was held in 1998 in Wolfsburg, Germany. The USDFD Team USA athletes have competed in Stadl Paula, Austria; Greven, Germany; and Edinburg, Scotland.