Help Send Mannkato and Sterling Graburn to the FEI Driving World Championships for Singles in Austria

Sunday, May 22, 2016
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Sterling Graburn and Mannkato

Sterling Graburn and Mannkato Photo: Mary Phelps

Our US Drivers need our support to represent the United States in the FEI Driving World Championships for Singles to be held August 3-7 in Austria. National funding has been slashed for driving, and it has made it necessary for athletes to create their own fundraising efforts.

Sterling D. B. Graburn is a veteran of the Gulf War, and a horse trainer, coach and competitor. He has won the US National Championship title twice, and was the highest place American driver in his two previous World Championships. It is his goal to be able to compete on the US team in the 2016 World Championships of carriage driving.

Sterling is driving a 15 year old horse named Mannkato. "Kato", as he is known around the barn, was a horse without a job three years ago. He had been trained as a dressage horse, but circumstances had ended his training. He was sent to Sterling late in 2013 to see if he remembered the 30 days of carriage training he had received as a 3 year old. Sterling and Kato hit it off, despite Kato's lack of experience.

In 2014 they made their competitive debut, coming home with two Championships from each of the shows they competed in at the Preliminary level. In 2015, lack of sponsorship kept them from showing early in the season, but in the fall, Sterling and Kato made the jump to the Advanced (international) level and were 2nd and 3rd in their first two shows.

Sterling Graburn and Mannkato

Sterling Graburn and Mannkato

Since then, the duo have continued to improve their consistent performance in all three phases of the competition; dressage, cross - country, and cones. They have never been out of the top three placings, and have either been 1st or 2nd in every cross country phase.

The United States Equestrian Federation is offering $3500 to each of the drivers to travel to Europe to compete at the World Championships against approximately 40 other nations. The estimate for each horse, driver, and groom/navigator to travel to and from Europe is $20,000.

The balance of the fundraising goal is taken up with travel to one final warm up competition, housing, stabling, feeding horse and humans, and various other costs of travel and competition. Due to the nature of selection trials, and the legal constraints of the selection process, the drivers are not given much time to raise funds and make preparations. The USEF's driving coach, and the Chef d'Equipe of the team have asked that the drivers compete at one final warm up show in France at the end of June. This means that they must depart approximately 19 June in order to allow the horses time to recover from the long flight and prepare for competition.

Sterling, along with the two other top ranked drivers, are the best team the US has had to compete in these single horse World Championships in many years. Please help them represent the US and go for the Gold! Any funds above the target goal will be shared equally with the other drivers.

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