Lexington, KY - The United States Equestrian Federation® (USEF) is pleased to announce the team headed to Mensport, Hellendoorn, Netherlands for the 2006 FEI World Carriage Driving Championships for Drivers with Disabilities. The event will be held September 6-10 this year and occurs every two years. This year, the USEF Para-Equestrian High-Performance Committee has been working closely with the United States Driving for the Disabled (USDFD) in preparing for the competition.
Team USA 2006 is made up of two team veterans - Mary Gray of North Yarmouth, Maine and Diane Kastama of Arroyo Grande, California. Gray will drive a seven-year-old Welsh Cob gelding named Bolgoed Exploring Eric, owned by Carol Boswell of East Lothian, Scotland. Kastama will drive Jasper, her 11-year-old Welsh Cob gelding.
Gray is the past president of USDFD. She competed in the first Disabled Driving World Championships, bringing home an Individual Gold medal and a Team Bronze. Gray was a pillar of Team USA 2004, helping the team to bring home fifth place overall. Kastama competed for the U.S. in 2000, 2002 and 2004 and brought home the Silver Individual medal in 2002.
The USDFD team has a strong history of bringing home medals with three Team Bronze medals (1994 non-FEI), two Individual Gold medals (1994 non-FEI), three Individual Silver medals (one in 2002, which was the first year for pairs non-FEI), and one Individual Bronze for the first FEI recognized pair competition.
Combined driving is about 30 years old, but is a fast-developing sport. The first year the United States participated in this international competition was 1994 in Hartbury, England. The first actual FEI World Championship was held in 1998 in Wolfsburg, Germany. The USDFD Team USA athletes have competed in Stadl Paula, Austria; Greven, Germany; and Edinburg, Scotland.
Team USA is funded entirely by donations and various fundraising events. The team relies on their friends, community and family for support, both financial and emotional. Many donations are tax-deductible. The USDFD has established a National Hitch-Up and Ride/Drive Fundraising Program. This is an opportunity to have fun with horses while supporting the Team USA fund. Those wishing to make a monetary donation or considering holding a Hitch-Up and Ride/Drive fundraiser contributing towards team participation in the 2006 World Championship can contact the USDFD office at 502-863-5113, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be made on-line at www.usdfd.org.