Follow Mary Phelps And The Flying Gangsters At The 2019 FEI World Driving Championships for Ponies
Monday, September 23, 2019
Posted by Debbie
Our very own Mary Phelps will be representing the United States of America at the 2019 FEI World Driving Championship for Ponies Competition which runs from Wednesday, September 25 through Sunday, September 29, 2019.
Follow Mary and her Flying Gangsters, Al Capony, Bugsy Maloney and Kimba! The Horses Daily team is so very proud of our fearless leader, Mary Phelps and her amazing husband, Wayne Humphreys fulfilling their dream of competing at the FEI World Driving Championship for Ponies.
Horsesdaily's "Bossmare" Mary Phelps has traveled the country and the world with her camera and computer covering equestrian events, Documenting the dreams and achievements of many of the world's top athletes, as well as delivering stories of "People With a Passion for Horses" on this website. Established in 1997, Horsesdaily is the oldest website in Equestrian Sport. A longtime member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists, Mary has served the equine community since she began her career in 1980.
"Now it's my turn," said Mary. "I always have loved combined driving. When I had the chance to buy a pair of ponies, Classic American Shetlands, Al Capony and Bugsy Maloney in 2012, I just wanted to get a chance to be on the other side of the lens. Then we just kind of took off."
Two more ponies were added to the herd, all the same coloring, Kimba, a mare who had been rescued by The Kentucky Horse Park, then later put up for adoption, and Tony Da Pony, who quickly stepped up to the plate in 2018. Winners of the 2018 US Equestrian Horse of the Year award for Advance Pony Pairs, the ponies have also earned the Horse of the Year title for the Classic American Shetland Breed twice. "But it's not the awards and the ribbons that matter as much as the journey. I have worked with many amazing trainers along the way, and truly enjoyed this sport and the people involved."
Since early July Mary, her husband Wayne, and The Gangsters have been living and training in the Netherlands with long time friend and mentor Bram Chardon. Mary is living the dream and with Wayne at her side and Bram Chardon at her other side, she and her Flying Gangsters are unstoppable!
100 drivers are fighting for the medals at the FEI World Driving Championships for Ponies in Kisber-Aszar, that becomes the center of Driving for 5 days. Drivers are coming from the USA, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Canada, Hungary, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden.
Combined driving is designed to test a driver's ability & the ponies obedience, speed and athleticism, in three demanding phases with a carriage in tow: Driven Dressage, Marathon & Cones. The sport, conceptualized by HRH Prince Phillip, is modeled after the mounted equestrian discipline of three-day eventing or, the human equivalent of a triathlon.
Competitors can drive a turnout of a single pony, a pair of ponies, or a team of four ponies. The driver/pony combination will accumulate penalty points throughout each phase of competition and the competitor with the fewest overall penalty points will place first. Accuracy, speed and endurance are all a necessary part of this exhilarating sport!
The driven dressage phase, which will be the first of the three phases, tests the driver and their ponies on harmony, impulsion, ease of movement and suppleness through a sequence of scored movements in an arena. Typically, the second phase is the fast-paced and demanding cross-country marathon. The marathon tests a ponies fitness, stamina, and agility; along with a driver’s accuracy and judgment as they navigate an intricate series of hazards which will include water, steep hills, and sharp turns - all within the fastest time possible. The last phase, the cones course, times the competitor while they accurately negotiate an intricate, winding course of narrowly-set cones without knocking them with the carriage wheels.
While combined driving is a technical and demanding sport, it can be enjoyed by people of any age, and with any breed of horses or ponies.