Para-Equestrian Driver Stefanie Putnam and her horse Bethesda After Dark (Shadow) launched into the big leagues becoming the only representative for the USA as an individual at the Para-Driving World Championships, in Beesd, The Netherlands August 3-6, 2016, finishing in fifth place over all.
Putnam (Lafeyette, Calif.) executed a solid test with her own Bethesda After Dark on Thursday in front of the Ground Jury of Andrew Counsil (GBR), Gun Hagring (SWE), Danuta Nowicka (POL), Henk van Amerongon (NED), and Reiner Wannenwetsch (GER). She and the 1993 Morgan gelding earned a score of 53.58 for fifth place. The pair attacked the Barry Hunter (GBR)-designed marathon course on Friday, having great times in obstacles two and three. They finished the marathon phase in eighth place, adding 100.92 penalties to their overall score to remain in fifth place. Putnam and "Shadow" finished their World Championship performance strongly by finishing third in the cones phase. They had a single ball down for 3.00 penalties and 5.83 time penalties to finish on a final score of 163.33.
Heiner Lehrter (GER) and Dashwood won Gold in the Grade I division with a score of 130.41, while Jacques Poppen (NED) and PP earned Silver on a score of 135.63 and Deborah Daniel (GBR) and Valeside Galaxy claimed Bronze on a score of 145.59.
Stefanie was an accomplished, advanced level show jumper who was tragically injured in 2009 (not horse related) at the age of twenty four leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Stefanie has embraced an amazing journey of self-discovery – rediscovering, reshaping, and rebuilding her dreams and her future. She has been blessed with the unbelievable support of many wonderful individuals who have embodied the magnificent power and triumph of the human spirit.
Stefanie and Shadow magically found each other in 2011 and have formed an intense partnership in what is a second competitive career for both of them. Shadow (Bethesda After Dark) with driver Scott Monroe had achieved the highest accolades in the driving world over his eighteen years (two USEF Horse of the Year Awards, multiple Advanced National Championships, and international honors).
Accompanied by Marcie Quist and Scott Monroe as Chef d'Equipe and Team Coach, Stefanie traveled to the Netherlands where she based her training out of Stal de Ronde, world class team driver for the Netherlands with Koos and Marie De Ronde. "Days have been relaxed with lovely, warm weather and sometimes occasional sprinkles. It is a very exciting environment being around the four in hands, as well as many beautiful horses everywhere the eye can see in the fields. The roads are wonderful to ride and drive on, and the villages are out of a picture book."
It was there her adventure began with a tour of the Royal Stables at the Hogewal in the Hague. The Royal Stables at the Hogewal in The Hague has been in operation since 1876. Behind the closed doors of this monument, we met the royal horses and mingled among the famous, priceless state carriages used on a regular basis by the monarchy, heads of state, and visiting dignitaries.
"In the Royal stables there are, of course, horses. There are 8 riding horses and 24 carriage horses which traditionally are all black. They are Friesians (all stallions) and Gelderlanders (usually chestnuts so black takes foresight)." Stefanie reported.
"The most outstanding horse of the royal stables is the stuffed horse Wexy. He is more than 200 years old. This horse was a favorite of King William II, and died during the struggle against Napoleon Bonaparte. The king could not say goodbye to his favorite horse, Wexy, and was taken from the battlefield. The horse was stuffed and is now in the royal stables."
Stal de Ronde hosted the British Driving Team as well on their journey to to the Beesd Para World Championships, as all enjoyed Marie and Koos's hospitality and partied before settling into the show grounds.
After attending the formal opening ceremonies there were more festivities with the traditional Nations' Night. Each nation provides national delicacies and drink with Stefanie's US table serving "S'mores, beef jerky, and California almonds.
Stefanie and Shadow drew 3rd in the order of go for Dressage. She performed an elegant and fluid test drawing notice from both FEI officials and classifiers who were in awe of this severely disabled athlete and the impact of her phenomenal performance.
Her overall fifth place result for the USA on the World Class stage was a testimony to he style, training and the great horse Shadow.
Her debut on the international level was an incredible experience and provided an opportunity to get to know other para-drivers from seven nations.
Coach, Scott Monroe, and Chef d'Equipe, Marcie Quist, did a phenomenal job as did Marie de Ronde where the U.S. trained. Wonderful supporters from the U.S.and Germany also lent a very welcomed helping hand and were greatly appreciated.
Stefanie is honored and proud to have had this amazing opportunity and wants to sincerely thank Scott, Marcie, and Marie and all who have helped to make this very special dream a reality.
Stefanie Putnam is dedicated and passionate about her interests including design and advertising (she completed her Masters Degree in Fine Arts/Advertising in December), public speaking, and competitive horse carriage driving.
Stefanie has thrived through her involvement with carriage driving and is a spokesperson for United States Driving for the Disabled. She is also a prominent supporter and speaker for Canine Companions, has recently consulted with Google in the development of new product lines, and has worked with Ride Designs in Denver on sports seating for the disabled.
She hopes to continue to broaden her scope as a motivational speaker/consultant combining her successes as a competitive horse carriage driver with her insights into the world of individuals facing extreme challenges. She looks forward with great anticipation and excitement to her continuing, incredible journey and is truly an inspiration to everyone around her.
Stefanie's GoFundMe account.