Peaking at the 2102 USEF National Single Horse Championship at the Carolina Horse Park April 12-14, Sterling Graburn seized the lead in the Single Horse division during Friday's dressage and refused to relent over Richard Nicoll's challenging marathon and cones courses to produce a wire- to-wire victory. Graburn who commuted from his home base at the Gayla Driving Center in Georgetown, Kentucky to drive successfully at Little Everglades International Driving Event in February finishing third, and moving into a second place finish at the Live Oak International CAI, and their first place victory at the Southern Pines CDE National Championships, Graburn and Ulano dominated the dressage results in all three events.
The sport of combined driving has been considered by many to be only for the super rich, and when it comes to managing and supporting a team of four-in-hand horses, only the heirs to such names as Johnson & Johnson, Wrigley, and Campbell Soup have been able to finance all that it takes to prepare and compete on the world stage. Sterling Graburn may not have come from such a financial heritage, but many in the American equestrian community still remember his mother Sally Graburn, Dressage judge and combined driver whose life was cut short by breast cancer in 1999. As soon as he was old enough Sterling was riding as navigator on her carriages, then went on to work for and train with some of the top drivers in the up and coming sport of combined driving in America.
In January 2012, Graburn moved from his rather obscure location in Pensacola, Florida to the lovely Gayla Driving Center, in Georgetown, Kentucky and began his quest to return to the international driving scene, with an eye for the Single Young Horse World Championships, being held this year in Lezirias, Portugal September 12-16. Nailing his second USEF National Single Horse Championship after holding the lead in all three phases, Sterling secured his spot on the US Team, and he’s doing it with a little help from a lot of friends and growing list of sponsors.
Graburn’s horse trailer, and marathon vehicle are like the NAASCAR version of the sport, as his list of supporters grows. Alltech’s LIFEFORCE supplement product is prominently displayed on the front of his carriage, and he drives a Bobcat ATV at the events he competes in, provided from the local dealerships. His vehicles are running out of room as the list continues to grow, and the modest cost to join Team Sterling also adds to the excitement of his growing fan base of students, friends and sponsors. Driving Larry Denny's Ulano, a KWPN Dutch Harness horse, Graburn, always impeccably turned out in traditional style draws the unfamiliar gasps from the audience as they enter the dressage test with dramatic movement not often seen in driven dressage.