The start of the World Championships for Para-Driving is just 2 weeks away. The American team members are making their final preparations before reporting to training camp at Stal De Ronde, the home farm of world class four-in-hand driver Koos De Ronde and his wife, FEI Combined Driving judge Marie De Ronde, in Zwartewaal, Netherlands.
Team members Tracy Bowman, Bob Giles, and Diane Kastama will gather for a week of intense training with Coach Sara Schmitt before heading to the championships venue.
Coach Schmitt expects to focus on the dressage and cones phases during the camp.
With some team members using newly leased horses for the championships, Schmitt knows she will need to help those drivers become comfortable working with their new partners.
Veteran team member Diane Kastama will be one of the two team members using a leased horse. She is currently in the Netherlands trying out potential horses that she will choose from for the Championships.
Kastama drove the de Ronde's FEI horse Oosterwijk’s Kasper, a 22-year-old gelding at Beekbergen, a major CDE in the Netherlands this past weekend, gaining valuable experience with the horse in a competitive atmosphere.
This will be the second time Bob Giles will be representing the USA in Para-Driving. He will also be driving a leased horse and will be arriving in the Netherlands soon.
He will be considering Maestoso Mano, a 9 year old Lipizzaner gelding and First Lady, an 8-year-old mare. Both horses have an extensive records in FEI competition with the De Rondes.
The third member of team USA, Tracy Bowman, is in California making her final preparations before flying to Europe with her own Taylomor Laurabelle, a 16-year-old Welsh Pony.
They expect to land in Amsterdam on the 18th of August, and will be heading directly to Stal De Ronde to join the other team members. This will be Tracy’s first time representing the USA and her pony’s first outing in international competition. Tracy is thrilled to play a role on the team.
Ginny Leal, the nominated individual driver, will be unable to attend this year’s competition. Leal, one of para-driving’s most ardent supporters, plans to keep up her work for the sport, and hopes to represent her country in international competition another year.