The Garden State CDE hosted an exciting weekend of combined driving competition at the Horse Park of New Jersey, highlighted by two 2020 USEF Intermediate Combined Driving National Championship divisions. The combinations put forth valiant efforts in their quest for national championship titles. As competition came to a close in mid-October, Sarah Reitz and Yvette Harris were crowned national champions in their respective divisions.
USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship
Reitz of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., and Awesome George began the competition by scoring 66.15 penalties in the dressage phase to sit in fourth on the overall leaderboard. Dressage is not Awesome George’s favorite phase, but he went to work for Reitz.
“Dressage is not his strong point, but it is what we worked on all year, and it had gotten better,” explained Reitz. “It kept us close enough to be in the hunt.”
Reitz and her 13-year-old Dutch Harness-cross gelding had a fast, efficient marathon phase to score only 71.62 penalties. Their strong performance allowed them to win the phase and climb to the top of the standings.
“He was super game on marathon,” said Reitz. “We took some really short, technical routes. We always say, ‘One second from hero to zero.’ It is either going to work, and we are going to end up heroes, or it is not going to work, and we are going to end up zeros. We took some short, different routes in the obstacles, and it paid off in the end to give us a lead going into cones.”
Reitz and Awesome George closed out their weekend by adding only 3.00 penalties in the cones phase. Their final score of 140.77 penalties clinched the champion title.
“He was super, super relaxed and game to play along, because it was a technical cones course, and they sort of had to wait in some of the corners,” said Reitz. “Sometimes he likes to think for all of us, and he likes to get thinking too far ahead, but today he was really listening and right there in my hand.”
Allison Stroud of Kennett Square, Penn., and Enzo won the dressage phase with a score of 51.03 penalties to start of their weekend. The duo had a solid marathon phase, tallying 88.84 penalties. Stroud and Willow Star LLC’s 11-year-old KWPN gelding collected 3.72 penalties in the cones phase, finishing on an overall score of 143.59 penalties and earning the reserve champion title.
Stacey Giere of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, and Gartijn, her 9-year-old KWPN gelding, finished third on an overall score of 152.21 penalties. Judy Canavan of Limekiln, Penn., and Emily, her 17-year-old Friesian/Thoroughbred mare, finished fourth with an overall score of 158.93 penalties.
USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship
Harris of Woodbine, Md., guided Suki, her 8-year-old Welsh Pony-cross mare, and Morwell Amber, her 14-year-old Welsh Pony mare, to the national champion title. Harris and her Welsh ponies lead the division from start to finish. They kicked things off by winning the dressage phase with a score of 62.59 penalties.
“The ponies felt really good,” said Harris of her dressage test. “They were working well together. I did feel a little bobble in one of the movements, but they recovered from that and carried on. They did really well. I was very pleased with them.”
Harris and her Welsh ponies tackled the marathon phase and maintained their position atop the leaderboard. They were the top finishers in the phase with a score of 87.24 penalties.
“I loved the course,” said Harris of the marathon. “The weather was awesome for a marathon. The ponies were listening well and were amazing.”
Harris drove a solid cones round with Suki and Morwell Amber to clinch their victory. They tallied 11.26 penalties in the cones phase to finish on an overall score of 161.09 penalties.
“They did a great job,” said Harris of her ponies. “It was very tight between me and Megan Fullgraf. She beat me in the cones, but I was able to pull it off. It was a lot of fun. I worked really hard in preparing for it. I was really excited to come and hoping for the best.”
Megan Fullgraf of Reidsville, N.C., partnered with Bayshore Pastime, her 9-year-old Dartmoor Pony mare, and Dunbarton Double Stuff Oreo, her 14-year-old Dartmoor Pony gelding, to take home the reserve champion title. They began the competition with 66.27 penalties in the dressage phase followed by 89.71 penalties in the marathon phase. Fullgraf and her Dartmoor Ponies won the cones phase after collecting 11.19 penalties, ending on an overall score of 167.17 penalties.