PVF Peace of Mind Earns 2016 USEF Championship
April 18th, 2016
By Kathleen Landwehr, USEF
A field of seven talented combinations vied for top honors over the weekend in the 2016 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Single Horse Driving National Championship held at the Southern Pines CDE. Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace Of Mind (Statesmans Signature x JPR Have Mercy) led from start to finish to claim their second consecutive National Champion title, finishing on a score of 134.17. In addition to the championship, the CAN2* Single Horse and Four-in-Hand divisions served as Selection Trials for this summer's FEI World Driving Championships.
Stafford of Wilmington, Delaware, drove a beautiful dressage test with her own PVF Peace of Mind on Friday to begin her quest for the championship title. She and the 2007 Morgan mare displayed excellent trot work, quality canter work, and impressive halts to win the dressage phase with a score of 37.60 from the Ground Jury of Sarah Mullins (IRL), Debbie Banfield (USA), and Sem Groenewoud (USA). The pair delivered a great marathon performance over Richard Nicoll's challenging track around the Carolina Horse Park to win the phase with a score of 87.32. Stafford and "Hunny" had some bobbles in obstacle four, the Pine Trees, but had the fastest times of the division in obstacles three, the Wood Pile, seven, A Bridge Too Far, and eight, the Gum Tree Wheel. In Sunday's cones phase, Stafford and her 2015 USEF International Horse of the Year partner had balls down at the A element of three and four and 3.25 time penalties, totaling 9.25 penalty points. However, the combination had a significant lead going into the final phase, allowing them to win the title.
"It wasn't as lovely looking as I had planned it to be. She was quite full of herself and had her own idea of what the course should be. She thought she walked it instead of me," Stafford said with a smile. "Luckily I had a decent lead since we had two balls down, and that gave me a little breathing room. Certainly not what you want to rely on, but it was what I had today."
Stafford will give PVF Peace of Mind a short break, then plans to head to Europe this summer with the aim of representing the U.S. at the FEI World Driving Championships for Singles.
Go to http://www.drivingnews.us/results/results2016/SouthernPines/ to view results.