Stafford Carriage Driving Wins 20 Titles at Record-Setting IFSHA World & Grand National Championship Horse Show
Thursday, November 1, 2018
The International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) welcomed a record number of horses to the 2018 World and Grand National Championship Horse Show from October 2-7, in Springfield, Ohio, where more than 175 of the most elite Friesians in the United States vied for world championship titles. After an exciting week of competition the Stafford Carriage Driving team once again topped the leaderboard, earning 20 championship titles across a multitude of divisions.
"What a show - it was the largest World Show for IFSHA in recent history with over 75 more horses than prior years, plus the quality of horses was outstanding and the judging was on point," said Stafford Carriage Driving owner and World Champion driver Suzy Stafford. "The camaraderie between competitors was astonishing, and it was a delight to see old friends and meet new ones. The willingness to help one another with equipment and grounds crew while being in a competitive class together was a breath of fresh air."
A Versatile Champion - Dream Gait's Baefyre
After winning seven titles at last year's World Show in the part-bred Friesian division, Stafford and Dream Gait's Baefyre (Friesian Sport Horse gelding owned by Lynn Schmidt/Dream Gait Farm) had no problem returning to the winner's circle again in 2018, this time earning top honors both in harness and under saddle. With Stafford in the irons, Dream Gait's Baefyre (Bizkit x Lies Fan Bommelsteyn by Lute 304 Sport) was named World Champion in the Part-Bred Drive and Ride Open class, as well as two Reserve Champion titles in First Level dressage divisions and a Top Five finish in English Pleasure Hunt Seat. Put to the carriage, the young gelding quickly racked up four additional World Championship titles in Preliminary Driven Dressage, Country Pleasure Driving, Carriage Pleasure Driving Working, and Timed Obstacles.
"Bae has been with me since the start of his performance career, and has proven to be very special," said Stafford. "His 'why not, let's give it a go' attitude makes everything fun and is what inspired me to enter a variety of classes at the World Show. He is really coming into his own now as a five-year-old, and his versatility is astonishing: he is competitive at the national level in ridden and driven dressage plus hunter divisions, and is also a proven combined driving horse. It's an exceptional combination."
Like a Boss - Isobel Ypkje van Het Kasteel
Also returning to Springfield in pursuit of additional World Championship titles was Stafford with Gail Aumiller's exceptional Friesian mare Isobel Ypkje van Het Kasteel (Sport) (Sipke x Ypkje D by Feitse), and the nearly-unbeatable pair did not disappoint. Despite limited showing, they added a World Championship and Reserve title in Intermediate Driven Dressage and two more World Championships in Timed Obstacles Open and Scurry to the mare's extensive resume. But a special highlight of the week was Isobel's victory in Category 3 of the Mare Show, qualifying her for the coveted final round of competition.
"We brought Isobel to Ohio to enter the FHANA Mare Show to compete against the best Friesian mares in North America. This was her main goal, so we kept her competition class schedule light this year plus the fact that she is in foal," Stafford explained. "But this mare is also all athlete! She was brilliant in the Intermediate driven dressage and trotted her way thru the obstacles classes with power, style and persistence. She is a boss."
From Near Death to Victory - Dark Tinne Victory
In 2014, the very first registered Arabo-Friesian was born in the United States, but at only 45 lbs. the premature foal was near death. Thanks to the love, compassion, and determination of owner Deborah Kafka and her family combined with heroic efforts of veterinarians, that tiny foal not only survived but thrived to now become a World Champion. Appropriately-named Dark Tinne Victory, the talented young mare (Dark Waterspoon 015 x Sage From Ca-Lynn by Anne 340) now trained by Stafford repaid her owner's faith in spades in her World Show debut in the Part-Bred Division with Kafka's daughter Rachal at the reins: two World Championship titles in Intro Level Dressage under saddle; a third World title in Training Level Driven Dressage; Reserve World Championships in Carriage Pleasure Driving Working and Timed Obstacles; and two third-place finishes in Ride and Drive and Dressage Suitability.
"Tinne came to me in May to be started in harness, and she has exceed everyone's expectations in such a short time," Stafford noted. "Her temperament is kind and willing, and due to her curiosity and interest in new adventures, I was able to get her started under saddle as well. She took to all of it like a pro! I am thrilled that Rachal was able to take the reins early in Tinne's training and build that important relationship and bond with her mare. To think of where they started and now to come out of the World Show with all ridden and driven dressage scores above 70% - wow! The opportunities are endless for this pair and I am looking forward to their growth and progress together. Such a special mare surrounded by the best family a horse can have can only have one outcome: success."
A Proven Winner - Sjaantje
Stafford Carriage Driving also congratulates Gail Aumiller and her incredible Friesian mare Sjaantje (Sport, Crown), who was previously named as the 2016 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Horse of the Year. Coached and trained by Stafford, the pair have earned a multitude of World Championship honors during past trips to Springfield, and this year they wasted no time adding more titles to their trophy case. Moving up to the challenging Intermediate level of Driven Dressage, Aumiller and Sjaantje (Tsjerk x Wietske Janke V by Ritse) earned a World Championship and a Reserve World Championship, as well as two additional World Championship titles in Timed Obstacles Amateur and Scurry Amateur.
"Gail made her debut at the Intermediate level in driven dressage with Sjaantje and rocked it out of the park, turning in a 70% in one of her tests and even beating her trainer!" said a proud Stafford. "Her inspiration to move up was the new American Driving Society (ADS) dressage medal program which Gail spearheaded to spark interest and involvement in the driven dressage arena. It has truly taken off and has inspired drivers to try it as well as train for excellence at a higher level.
"The recipe for success behind all of these neck ribbons and trophies comes from many ingredients, starting in the barn with good nutrition, farriers and vets," Stafford concluded. "It's all about surrounding yourself and your horses with people that care, that have the same love and vision for the equines that you do. It takes 100% commitment and I thank everyone for their efforts!"
With the 2018 show season coming to a successful close, Stafford will now turn her attention to transitioning to her winter training base in Ocala, Fla. Reservations for equine training and keuring prep are currently being accepted at Stafford's impressive new facility in Franklinville, N.J. for April 2019 - to learn more, visit www.staffordcarriagedriving.com