2019 ADS North American Preliminary Championships

Saturday, June 29, 2019
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Kirsten Brunner, Preliminary Single Pony North American Reserve Champion 2019.jpg

If last Thursday’s deluge was an indication of the weather for the weekend, competitors were in for some big trouble. Fortunately, after the storm cells passed, the saturated soil drained off and the sprawling Windrush Farm was ready to host the championships at the 35th Annual Metamora CDE and CT.

Impressions of the farm were that it is spacious, it’s beautiful, and it’s driver-friendly. It boasts a full course of permanent, intricate and interesting marathon hazards (have you seen the drone footage on our ADS Facebook Page?). Metamora is one of the most spectator-friendly CDEs. On marathon day, bleachers were full in the main field that had a view of five of the seven hazards. Announcer Alicia Pierce was the narrator of the day from the time the first horse started on course right up until the end, giving insider details on the drivers and their equines. She turned up the volume with her up to the moment placing changes, elevating the excitement from the fans at each obstacle. The Cones Course was an intricate and technical course that saw just one double clear in the weekend (A large land bridge in the middle of the hilly course was a unique addition).

The show was organized by farm owner Dr. Barbara Chapman and Darlene Daly. These two are a force to be reckoned with. They, along with an expansive lineup of devoted volunteers, put on a first-rate event. Hardy Zantke was President of the Jury, with Dana Bright and Esther R. Boots Wright as members of the Ground Jury, Melissa Boyd as Cones Judge, with Ellen Ettenger as the Technical Delegate, and Terry Pickett running the Safety Check.

The 2019 ADS North American Championships were held in a three-day format with Dressage on Friday, Cones on Saturday, and Marathon on Sunday.

Sharon Crawford MacKay drove the Prelim Small Single Pony North American Champion after the only Double Clear of the day in what was a blisteringly fast Cones drive. Sharon, who scored a 55.43 in Dressage, drove her dark, glossy Welsh pony, Tiny Bit.

Francois Bergeron stepped up in a super competitive single pony division to win the Preliminary Single Pony North American Championship. His chestnut Morgan/Welsh cross, Jacob, is as handy as they come, turning quickly and gracefully this way and that in the cones to score a second place after a 58.10 in Dressage. Francois tells me he just purchased a foal who is marked identically to Jacob, with the hopes that we might see him driving a pair (or tandem!) in the years to come. Kirsten Brunner drove Raindrop, a Welsh/Arab cross, to the Prelim Single Pony North American Reserve Championship, taking reserve in the marathon. Kirsten’s daughter was on the back of the carriage for the marathon, the two of them wearing matching goldfish helmet covers. Raymond Helmuth didn’t place in the championship after an elimination in the marathon, but had put in a blazing score in cones to win top honors there with Ellen Decicco's Welsh Cobb Pony after winning the Dressage with a 53.98.

Beverly Patrick won the Preliminary Pony Team North American Championship with her four-in-hand of Fell Ponies who range in age from 14 to five years old. Putting in impressive drives on the cones course and marathon, Beverly put her breed of choice (they are also the Queen’s breed of choice) on show to the delight of the cheering crowd.

The Prelim Single Horse NA Championship went to Susan Osborne and her Morgan Donegal. Susan put in a good Dressage test to win that phase with a 59.92, taking second in the Cones. Susan and “Donnie” went on to claim the championship after a great marathon. Reserve in the Prelim Single Horse NA Championship was Sheri Haviza and her Morgan, Do More Dancin Sergeant, "Sami", second in Dressage and Marathon, but first in Cones with only three penalty points.

Finally, the Prelim Pair Horse NA Championship was awarded to Sarah Steenbeek, who drove a pair of seven-year-old Friesians to claim top honors across the board. Sarah's horsemanship was noticeable, with her soft go in Dressage and her mindfulness in the obstacles.

"It was a great Championship - and so fitting to have it at our oldest running CDE - Metamora's 35th year," said President of the Jury Hardy Zantke at the end of the event,"It was also a very true 'North American' Championship - as out of the five Championship classes three were won by our friends from Canada! How wonderful to have our sport and the ADS embrace both of our countries". Having our President and Executive Director there was very special too - with the former handing out ADS car window stickers to every driver and groom at the end of the marathon. What a good idea, and, as he says: "WE are the ADS!"

The Metamora CDE & CT put on a memorable championship for the ADS preliminary drivers.

Top Photo:  Kirsten Brunner, Preliminary Single Pony North American Reserve Champion 2019