Ocala, FL - It's been a “Hunny” of a season for Suzy Stafford, who has been named to her tenth USEF Long List since 2000, after handily winning the Dressage phase and finishing second overall with her seven year-old registered Morgan mare, PVF Peace of Mind (aka Hunny) in the Advanced Single Horse division of the Kingdom of the Sun CDE, February 20-23, at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala. The video of her Dressage test, demonstrates the mastery of the art of driven dressage. Stafford, known for her prescison and and Hunny, for her style, gaits and presence scored the best result in the hotly contested division with fellow competitors eyeing a spot on the FEI World Championships for Single Horses to be held in Izsak, Hungary September 25-28, 2014. “We won our dressage with a 32 (penalty points) and had one ball down in cones, dropping us to second-place going into marathon,” said the 2009 USEF Becky Hart Trophy winner. That's when her 2013 World and National Morgan Carriage Driving Champion, demonstrating the prowess in harness that has historically made it a breed of choice among American driving horses, tenaciously held on to reserve over cross-country and only missed the overall win at Ocala by a scant eight-tenths of a point. Watch this amazing video of an advanced dressage test for the single horse in driven dressage.
Hunny, Stafford says, has always had a “been there, done that” attitude to competitive pressure. The daughter of dressage sporthorse Morgan, Statesman Signature, Hunny started her show career in 2011 winning the Single Horse division championship at the Brandywine Driving Show before going on to her first CDE that fall, where she achieved the lowest dressage score of the show.
Stafford's presence on the USEF Long List marks the tenth time she has qualified with a horse or pony. The veteran whip and her mare face a busy qualifying season towards a slot on the squad competing for the United States at the 2014 World Single Horse Championships in September. The pair will return to Ocala to defend their title won at last year's FEI Live Oak International CDE (March 20-23) before going to the Southern Pines CDE (April 10-13) in North Carolina and Gladstone HDT (May 2-4) in New Jersey.
In 2004, Suzy Stafford stepped into the world spotlight as the youngest and first American driver to win individual Gold in an international driving competition, driving the Welsh gelding Cefnoakpark Bouncer to first place in the 2005 World Pony Driving Championships in England. Since then she has collected countless World and National titles and remains deeply involved in her sport, training, competing and teaching students and holding clinics at her Stafford Carriage Driving.
She's eager to introduce a horse as talented as Hunny to that world spotlight, too: “Driving is my passion and I love representing my country by doing what I love best.”
Neither Stafford nor Hunny will be going it alone. “I have a great team who really support me. The backing of my sponsors, owners and clients make this possible. We are a team and I am so grateful for that.”
Stafford operates her Stafford Carriage Driving facility out of Chester County in Pennsylvania from April to December and is stationed in Ocala, Florida from January through April. To learn more about Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com.
Video by Jeffrey McCarthy - CarriageDrivingUSA