PIBER-KÖFLACH, AUSTRIA - The world will be watching as competition is about to get underway at this week's FEI World Driving Championships for Single Horses. Former World Champion driver Suzy Stafford (2005 with Pony Single Cefnokpark Bouncer) and PVF Peace of Mind (better known as Hunny) will begin their date with destiny in Piber, Austria in pursuit of another gold medal with the U.S. Driving Team. As one of 75 competitors from a record number of participating nations, the reigning USEF National Champions will trot down centerline for their World Championship dressage test at 3:40pm local time (9:40am ET USA).
On Thursday, August 4th, dressage competition gets underway at 9:00am local time. Stafford and Hunny will drive as part of the final group of the day at 3:40pm (9:40am USA). Her U.S. Team mates Donna Crookston and Viktor will also drive on Thursday at 11:00am, while Sterling Graburn and Mannkato compete on Friday at noon. Individual U.S. competitor Leslie Berndl with Uminco will complete their dressage test on Thursday at 4:30pm. Competition will be livestreamed, and complete competition information is available via this link: www.hoefnet.nl.
"All of the years of hard work and our belief in this goal have led to this moment," she said. "It is an honor to be here as part of the U.S. Team and representing our country, and I hope all of Hunny's fans will be cheering for us from home! I can't wait to show the world what Hunny can do."
On Wednesday morning, Stafford presented Hunny, the 2015 USEF Horse of the Year, to the Ground Jury to give the officials their first look at her all-American Morgan mare as part of the FEI veterinary inspection, which Hunny passed with flying colors. "She looks and feels great - I think even better than ever, despite the rigors of international travel," Stafford noted. "Hunny is a professional and she travels well, so even after the long drive from our training base in Frankfurt, Germany to Piber on Monday, she settled right in here at the show. She's schooling really well too, so now that the jog is over I can't wait to get in the dressage arena and get this thing started!"
But first, the U.S. Driving Team participated in official opening ceremonies complete with a parade of athletes, followed by the festive tradition of "Nations Night" where each country represented at the World Championships shared food and fun with fellow athletes from around the world. The U.S. Team table proved to be a big hit with buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese dressing and American whiskey with Coca-Cola. "You can't help but be filled with pride when walking into the stadium waving our flag with the U.S. contingent for the opening ceremonies, and then Nations Night is such a fun way to kick off the week and meet so many of our fellow athletes," said Stafford.