An Inside Scoop on the US Driving Team

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Michael Freund and Thorsten Zarembowicz (Photo: Hippoevent)

Michael Freund and Thorsten Zarembowicz (Photo: Hippoevent)

Michael Freund has not extended the contract for the trainer of the American Driving sport atlethes, and he has handed over the position of the US-Coach, 2016, to his "student" Thorsten Zarembowicz. 2 great personalities of the Driving sport - the Worldchampions in an interview - a talk with Michael Freund and Thorsten Zarembowicz:

Micha, after 6 successful years as the USEF Combined Driving Coach, you decided not to renew your contract. How did you come to that decision?
Michael Freund: “It was an interesting and successful time with several medals at the World Championships with the four in hands and the ponies. I become this year 62 years old and just want to work a little less intensely. In the last two years Thorsten has helped me a lot already in the States, and he mainly coached the singles and pairs, horses and ponies. I will continue to coach Misdee Wrigley Miller and Chester Weber as private clients.”

Thorsten, under your leadership as the new U.S. Combined Driving Coach, what is going to change in the U.S. driving sport?
Thorsten Zarembowicz: “The basic dressage work of the drivers will continue as it has under the coaching of Micha since we worked so closely together for so many years, we have a lot of the same theories. But, since I do spend a lot of time in the U.S. I will be changing the preparation clinics so they will be further out from the shows with more time in between to practice what we work on. In the past the clinics were held very close to the show, but now that can change.”

“The new developing driver program founded by Misdee gave me the possibility to work with up and coming drivers and bring them quickly to the high performance program. The results are in, and it has proven to be a success as I expect the first drivers from the developing driver program to qualify for the Pony World Championships in Minden 2017.”

Micha, what is the current situation with the four in hand drivers in the U.S.?
Michael Freund: “Chester Weber did not show his top team this season. His successful horses from the last few years will be back this summer for the European season. The reason for that is the season for the U.S. horses and drivers from January to September is always very long. Allison Stroud drove a good winter season in Florida this year. Misdee Wrigley Miller drove at her first Florida show, Little Everglades, a 45 in dressage. But, then she broke her finger during the marathon phase. She is just now back training. Jimmy Fairclough did not drive a show in 2016."

Thorsten, you became World Champion for Single Horses in 2010. What has changed in the single horse sport since then, and what is the current situation in the U.S.?
Thorsten Zarembowicz: “Since 2010 the quality of the horses in the single horse driving sport has not gone up. I drove in 2010 the dream horse ‘Sunrise’ owned by the family Harm. The horse had the quality of a high class ridden dressage horse, and because of that quality we had an exceptional dressage score to win the dressage at the World Championships."

"After ‘Sunrise’ I thought other horses out of this high class would show up in the single sport, but that was not the case. As a coach I have traveled a lot in the last two years, and was very happy to finally see such a dream horse again. The horse „PVF Peace of Mind" is owned and driven by Suzy Stafford, who has been world champion for single ponies before. She took her time to build this horse slowly up, and this winter we prepared her for bigger goals.

In the support of the single sport, I would hope for a dressage win with a score of something like 35, it would again be like the success I had with ‘Sunrise’ back then. Currently we have a lot of promising young horses, next to experienced drivers like Leslie Berndl with ‘Travis,’ who is very strong all three phases this season. Also Sterling Graburn with ‘Kato’ who is capable of driving a marathon that is on the highest international level. I believe we can put together a strong team this year. I first will go with the drivers to Chablis, France, and then arrive well prepared in Piber. Personally, I am very happy to say that Micha will be our Chef d’Equipe for Piber. Who knew that when I started in 2001 working as a groom in his barn that we would end up in 2016 traveling to Piber, he as the Chef d’Equipe and I as the U.S. Coach.”

On behalf of the Driving sport community we wish - you both - a lot of success, and we are looking forward sporty interesting – and successful - Driving spOrt presentations from the USA.




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