Articles: Press Release
Poulin, Groves, Schmitt and Stroud Pull of Big Season Finale Victories at
the USEF National Driving Championships at Fair Hill International
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
4047 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511-8483
Tel: (859) 258-2472
Fax (859) 231-6662
Web site: www.usef.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 22, 2007
By Joanie Morris
Elkton, MD - Just before the event horses got underway in the show jumping at Fair Hill International, four USEF National Champions were crowned in Advanced combined driving. In the third and final portion, the cones, a carefully designed course tested driver control and steering as well as the horses' attentiveness and training.
In the National Pair Horse Championship, Larry Poulin and Lisa Singer were neck and neck throughout the entire weekend. Poulin, who had won the competition six times previously ended up with another win after a carefully executed cones phase. Poulin finished on a score of 167.53.
"This has been a real horse race this weekend," said Poulin. "Lisa and I are always battling each other. That makes it nerve wracking and exciting."
Poulin cites lots of dressage training under saddle for much of his success in the carriage. Most of his driving horses compete in upper level dressage, something he looks forward to continuing under the tutelage of his uncle, multiple Olympian, Michael Poulin.
"You train so much for suppleness and throughness and we can do so much more of that under saddle," said Poulin.
Second to Singer after the dressage, Poulin battled back with a very fast marathon phase to move ahead by less than two points.
"This combination that I used today is getting better and better," said Poulin about horses Wylie and Conyer.
He uses the terrain on his farm in Petersham, MA to keep his horses fit and relies on them to keep each other in line.
"We are lucky we live in hilly country and we can plug and unplug," said Poulin. "My marathon horse, I'm very lucky - he's like a race horse. He keeps all the horses fit and teaches the young horses. He doesn't let them be lazy."
Singer's legendary 20-year-old horse Avalon Avant Guard (known universally as Farm) was honored in a retirement ceremony after the Pair Horse Championship, the veteran who has represented the U.S. on multiple occasions will be very much missed on the driving circuit by fellow competitors and fans alike.
"It's really hard," said Singer. "But I just think it's time."
Robin Groves held on to her lead in the National Single Horse Championship, despite having a very narrow margin for error going into the cones. She and Thor's Toy Truck, who is owned by Lana Dupont Wright, added 6.47 to their final score of 174.28 but got some breathing room after Bill Peacock wracked up double figure penalties.
In the National Single Pony Championship, overnight leader Sara Schmitt held on to her position with Batman and drove a steady, confident round through the cones to top the division on 154.99, almost 20 points clear pf her closet rival Vivian Creigh. With a significant lead going into the final phase, she made she didn't make a mistake and held on to her win.
"He was great," said Schmitt after her performance. "I could have gone a little faster but the carriage was sliding sideways and I didn't have to go that fast. He actually wasn't so explosive as he was the last time, he stayed stable so it was easier to steer him."
Batman will be rewarded with a vacation and then practice some dressage under saddle. His first competition for 2008 in front of the carriage will be in the end of February at Sunshine States in Florida.
"I will brave the cold and try to get fit to go to Florida," said Schmitt of her winter plans.
In the National Pony Team Championship, local driver Lisa Stroud put in a dynamite performance with her team of grey ponies to handily win the division on a score of 174.28, three points clear of overnight leader Boots Wright.
Stroud who lives just down the road in West Grove, PA and is an avid support of local driving, came from behind after the first two phases on the strength of her cones performance. She added three points in the cones, which was the second best round of the day.
For more information please contact USEF High Performance Communications Manager, Joanie Morris at email@example.com.
The vision of the United States Equestrian Federation(r) is to provide
equestrian sport in the United States of America by promoting the pursuit of
excellence from the grassroots to the Olympic Games. This is based on a
foundation of fair, safe competition and the welfare of horses. Embracing
this vision, the USEF strives to be the best national equestrian
federation in the world.