West Springfield, Massachusetts- International driver Suzy Stafford continues her season dominating the Training level Driven Dressage Division the show debut at the Vermont Morgan Spring Classic on June 18th with the Morgan gelding “Acrosstime Black Cotton” (Cassanova’s Cashon x Sleepys Jessie Dee). The Big E was a wonderful venue for the Morgan breed to show off their hard work and training in many divisions. From the park division to western and carriage, the variety of classes filled with wonderful horses and focused exhibitors. All the volunteers, exhibitors and trainers were all brought together during the daily evening party’s donated by a variety of gracious sponsors.
Stafford drove “Cotton”, a seven year old Morgan gelding owned by Jeanne Cassells of Lodi, OH to winning results in two of the three Driven Dressage classes entered. The pair improved with each test and Cotton gained more and more confidence as he completed the progressive classes. Cotton was purchased by Jeanne as a young stallion in the hopes that she could give him a better life than the situation she found him in. He was mistreated and in bad physical condition with no training said his owner. He is now a thriving gelding getting the best education in harness as possible.
“Cotton was sent to me in the hopes of finding his niche in life and to match him with his permanent parent. He has progressed extremely quickly considering the baggage he came to me with. This was the first time he was off the farm and he improved every day during the show” says Stafford. “Cotton” started the show off with two training level dressage tests the first day. The first drive was accurate and polite but it was evident that Cotton was a bit distracted by the other drivers warming up, thus placing second in the first class. The second test that afternoon showed much improvement and the duo improved their score by 10 points winning the class.
The second day of competition for the pair driving Training level test 4 showed off Cotton’s training as it should. Cotton was much more relaxed and seemed to understand the horse show atmosphere after “sleeping on it” overnight. The two bested their score with the high score at Training level. The unpleasant past of this tolerant little Morgan has paved the way for a bright and love filled future. Suzy’s next step for Cotton is moving up to the preliminary level at the Glenn Willow Combined test. Suzy is known around the globe for her ability to harvest talent and develop horses and ponies for National and International competition.
Stafford has been long list with the United States Equestrian Federation with many different equines. Stafford, who operates Stafford Carriage Driving out of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Ocala, Florida was the youngest and first American driver to win an Individual Gold Medal with Cefnoakpark Bouncer at the 2005 World Pony Driving Championships in England. Since then she has continued to drive to success, being named the 2005 Driver of the Year by Chronicle of the Horse, winning the 2008 and 2009 National Single Pony Championship with Courage to Lead and an Individual Bronze medal in Greven, Germany. Stafford was also awarded the Becky Hart Trophy in 2009. In 2011, Stafford’s own Miss Josephine put in a brilliant performance at the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Slovenia where they were awarded with the Individual Silver Medal, Stafford’s second consecutive Individual medal.
For more information on Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com.