COVID-19 Can't Stop Conesapalooza Driving Event

Friday, July 31, 2020
Posted by Yellow Horse Marketing for Stafford Carriage Driving


Karen Mokuau-Ditto-Photo-Signature Studio-TOP.jpg

During a summer of uncertainty, Suzy Stafford finds a way to safely offer a fun cones competition for local driving community. For the last five months, equestrians across the country have found themselves under stay-at-home orders and with almost all shows and clinics cancelled due to COVID-19. But as restrictions finally began to lift recently in New Jersey, former world champion driver Suzy Stafford was ready to help local drivers get back in action.

Photo - Karen Mokuau and Ditto (Photo: by Signature Studio)

On Sunday, July 26th, Stafford welcomed more than a dozen drivers decked out in tie-dye attire to Conesapalooza, the first public competition held at her new Solstice Farm. With four complete cones courses set up on the property, Conesapalooza was designed as a low-key competition for drivers and horses/ponies to test their skills with plenty of fun, friends, and prizes, all while following recommended safety protocols.

"The farm is fairly new to hosting events - I organized some clinics last year but this was the first show on the property," Stafford explained. "It was a great test run to see how the property handled heavy trailer and driver traffic. I am extremely pleased and most likely will hold more shows in the future. Even though it was meant to be a fun day, my highest priority was to ensure everyone's safety. I'd like to say 'thank you' to all attendees who cooperated by wearing masks, social distancing, and taking extra care to keep everyone safe."

With a full CDE cones course as well as Pick Your Route, Fault and Out, and Cones Bingo, there was something for everyone to both challenge themselves and try something new. "I am proud of the drivers that accepted the challenge of four cones courses in one day. It's not for the faint of heart and everyone did a fantastic job," said Stafford. "I could not have pulled this off without my pit crew - my family really stepped up to support me, and I'd also like to thank Triple Crown who supplied goodies for everyone and went above and beyond to sponsor and support this day for the driving community."

The event proved to be a big hit with local drivers.

"Conesapalooza was an absolutely wonderful day!" noted Shelly Chadwick of Bridgton, N.J., who drove her very small equine (VSE) Chance Encounter. "The farm is immaculate and Suzy was more than welcoming! My favorite course was the CDE course - it was challenging but not impossible, the best combination for a fun day. Suzy stepped it up a notch with Cones Bingo, I think everyone was laughing by the time they crossed the start/finish line! Suzy just makes you feel wanted and welcome on her farm, no matter the size or breed of the horse and no matter your skill level. She is a wonderful asset to the South Jersey Driving community, and we are very lucky to have such a wonderful person in the area!"

"Conesapalooza was well organized and the whole day ran very smoothly - there were so many details that made for a competitor-friendly, low-key atmosphere," explained Debby Donovan of Salem, N.J., who drove Brighton to win the Horse Division Championship. "There was ample space to work and stay socially distant; easy, quick, and convenient check-in; and offering bag lunches was a nice touch.

"The whole concept of having a cones-only competition with four courses was such a great idea," Donovan continued. "Not being a pleasure show person, I never get to experience anything other than a CDE course, so it was fun and a good learning experience to try out other types of cones courses. All through the day everyone was smiling and having fun and had positive things to say about their experience. Last but not least, the ribbons were so pretty and creative - the icing on the cake. Thank you Suzy for doing this for the driving community, and for giving us such a fun day. Your efforts are very much appreciated!"

Stafford Carriage Driving congratulates the 2020 Conesapalooza division champions: VSE - Debbie Wolf and Charlie; Pony - Sandy Eckhert and Jasper; Horse - Debbie Donovan and Brighton.

To learn more about Suzy Stafford and Stafford Carriage Driving and see more information about future events at Solstice Farm, visit