September 2016 Issue - page 11

September 2016
Page 11
Missed Gate Costs Suzy Stafford World Championship
After a sparkling start for
Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace of
Mind at the FEI World Driving
Championships for Single Horses
August 3-7 in Austria, with an
overall second place finish in the
dressage phase, the promising
pair was eliminated in the mar-
athon after failing to complete a
compulsory gate.
Following the second day of
driven dressage the U.S. Driving
Team of Donna Crookston, Suzy
Stafford, and Sterling Graburn
sat in third place with a score of
105.4. Stafford was in second
place with PVF Peace of Mind,
with Graburn and individual
Leslie Berndl, in the top 20.
"After one of the best dres-
sage performances Hunny and I
had ever done together, I felt very
prepared and confident for the
marathon," Stafford (Coatesville,
PA) said. "The course was as gru-
eling and complex as you would
expect at a World Championship,
and I walked the course over a
dozen times with my navigator
of eight years, Larry Hart. We
started the course confident with
my plan and with Hunny going
"But in the third hazard, I
turned one post too early which
caused us to not pass through the
'E' gate. Immediately after the
turn, Larry warned me that he
thought we had missed the gate,
so I circled back, looked at where
I had been, and swore that I had
gone the correct way so I kept
driving to F. But in fact I hadn't
gone through where I thought,"
Stafford explained. "This was my
mistake and mine alone. I own
it and accept it, but of course it
disappoints me for many reasons.
I did not trust my team mate, and
I let my horse down as she was
game and strong right through the
last obstacle despite the challeng-
es of the course. Of course I also
let my U.S. Team down as well as
all of Hunny's supporters that had
helped us make this incredible
journey, and for that I am sorry.”
The U.S. Driving Team faced
a strong international field of 75
combinations from 23 countries,
and after four days of competi-
tion, finished 14th.
Graburn (Paris, Ky.) and his
and Laura Corsentino’s Mannkato
finished as the top U.S. combi-
nation with an overall score of
179.99 for 50th place.
Crookston (Saltsburg, Pa.)
and her own Viktor were the path-
finders for the U.S. team in the
dressage and marathon phases. For
Thursday’s dressage test, the 2008
Dutch Harness gelding was tense
on the biggest stage of his career
thus far, but Crookston managed
to receive a score of 69.61. They
had a solid round in the marathon
phase, adding 104.18 penalty
points to their score to finish as the
top U.S. combination in the phase.
In the cones phase, the duo did
not touch any cones but collected
10.50 time penalties. Crookston
and Viktor ended up in 53rd
place overall with a final score of
U.S. individual Berndl
(Newcastle, Calif.) and Uminco
finished on a score of 189.33 in
58th place.
"It is very humbling to
have something like this happen
(especially at a World Champi-
onship), but I have learned the
most from the mistakes I have
made” Stafford said. “This one
will go directly in the top of
the pile, but such is the nature
of horse sport that there will
be highs and lows. We have to
find a way to go on, and I have
learned to grow and develop my
strategy with each success as
well as each failure."
Despite being eliminated
on the marathon, Stafford was
allowed to participate in the final
day's cones competition. How-
ever the drama continued. Late
Saturday night Hunny was found
to be in distress. "At night check
we found her with a very high
temperature and shivering, and
our U.S. Team Veterinarian Dr.
Rüdiger Brems was immediate-
ly on top of the situation," said
Stafford. "In the best interest of
Hunny's health and welfare we
decided to be aggressive with
treatment using certain medica-
tions which are prohibited under
FEI drug rules, so we of course
then discontinued our participa-
tion in the competition. It was the
right thing to do for Hunny."
Sunday morning found Hun-
ny in better spirits, on her way
to a full recovery, and Stafford
walked the cones course and was
on hand to cheer on her U.S. team
Germany claimed Team Gold
with a score of 270.39, while
Poland collected Team Silver with
a score of 281.65, and Switzer-
land received Team Bronze with
a score of 283.70. Dieter Lauter-
bach (GER) and Dirigent 47 won
Individual Gold with a score of
137.50, while Weronika Kwiatek
(POL) and Bartnik earned Indi-
vidual Silver on a score of 139.68,
and Saskia Siebers (NED) and
Axel collected Individual Bronze
with a score of 141.36.
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