Sterling Graburn spent the summer in Europe preparing for the World Single Horse Driving Championships. After many hours of training he and the other team members, Donna Crookston and Leslie Berndl, headed to Lezirias, Portugal on September 8th. After a 3 day trip, they arrived on the grounds and began preparing for the task at hand.
Dressage and marathon times are decided by draw at the FEI level leaving it to chance when each competitor drove. Sterling unfortunately had an early draw on the first of two days of dressage. The day proved to not be he and Ulano’s best turning in a 57.47, placing them 48th overall out of 70 drivers.
The great thing about combined driving is that everyday is a new day! Maintaining a positive attitude, Sterling and navigator Lindsey Nevitt attacked the marathon course placing 21st overall and even winning one hazard!
Last but not least was cones, historically the most challenging phase for Sterling. His luck however, continued to improve as he finished a fantastic 10th place, putting him in 22nd overall for the competition and the top American driver.
As a team, the USA had up’s and down’s. After Leslie and Donna put in strong Dressage performances the team sat in 4th. Unfortunately, Sterling was the only one to have a strong marathon moving the team down to 8th. The USA came roaring back with strong cones performances by Sterling and Donna, placing them 2nd in cones. However, despite the strong showing in cones, it was only good enough to move the USA up to 6th in the overall rankings. The top three teams were: 1st German, 2nd Switzerland, and 3rd the Netherlands.
A big congratulations to all members of the American team. It is quite a feat to gather all of the resources and tools necessary to compete in Europe and we are very proud of you, especially Sterling and Ulano (Owned by Larry Denny). Thank you to all of those who supported Sterling along his journey. It truly was a team effort!