Stafford Carriage Driving

News & Events Archives

October 19, 2015
 
Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace Of Mind Run Away with the 2015 USEF Single Driving Horse National Championship at the FEI Hermitage Classic Combined Driving Event.

Stafford led the field of seven drivers from start to finish to take the 2015 USEF National Championship title by a fourteen point lead. The dream team of Stafford and her own eight year old Morgan mare, PVF Peace Of Mind, put in three brilliant performances at the FEI Hermitage Classic Combined Driving Event. 



The show, hosted by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson on their beautiful Heritage Farm, was filled with camaraderie, brilliant courses, and hospitality throughout the competition. The weekend started with the soundness jog on Thursday followed by the competitors briefing held in the farm’s historic 19th-century farmhouse, where the organizers provided important show information and introduced the judging panel to the competitors. Good food, drink, and conversation gave all the participants a relaxed and friendly start to the weekend. 

“The farm is amazing, the attention to detail and the obvious care in decorating the obstacles, and dressage arena well appreciated by competitors and spectators,” Stafford said.

The dressage phase started Friday morning with blue skies and some impressive scores from the five judge panel. The lowest score of the day was awarded to Stafford and her partner of five years, who is affectionately known as “Hunny.” The impressive score of 40.64 (76%) reflected the team’s powerful and expressive extended trots and the near perfect halts. The second place score in the USEF National Championship division was awarded to Leslie Berndl and Umico, her Dutch gelding.
“This girl is very special, one of a kind,” Stafford said, reflecting on Hunny’s performance. “She was full of herself the day leading up to the test, but nothing I have not seen from her before. She has a lot of personality and character, and that is what makes her such a competitor. We have a certain trust between us and understand there is some compromise to put in to get that special test performance. If she gives me too much the days before the test, I have learned to allow her to express herself to a certain extent. She then, in return always knows when it’s show time and turns it on with focus and concentration. This is a process that was hard to trust the outcome at first but this characteristic in Hunny is why she is so special. I do not want to take that away from her.” 

The weather on Saturday was delightful for the marathon section of competition, as well as the backdrop of the fall festival, which is held on the farm to encourage spectators. Pony rides, food trucks, hay rides, and music filled the day with fun, in addition to the exciting performances. The weather was perfect for the equines in competition with low temperatures and a cool breeze. 

The marathon tract was laced with sloping hills, making it challenging for the horses between the obstacles. The course consisted of seven obstacles, with the third consisting of a long, steep wooden bridge, which was a spectator favorite. The course designer, Barry Hunter, challenged the field of drivers with technical questions throughout the course.

“I was relieved with the weather forecast for Saturday as I knew the tract would be demanding for the horses,” Stafford said. “I come from Unionville, Pa., where the hills are a plenty. The obstacles were tight and my girl likes to run so it was a bit challenging to compress her through seven obstacles. Barry put in 20 or so knockdowns in just the right spots on course. That made for some added risk when I tried to push through the tight obstacles. Hunny was brave and fit for the day. It wasn’t our best marathon as we had one knockdown and a bit of hesitation over the bridge but otherwise we were accurate and quick. I was glad to have my navigator Larry Hart back on the carriage with me after a brief break.” 

Stafford added five points to her already nine point lead after dressage to move into the cones competition with a hefty 14.7 lead in front of the reigning National Champion, Leslie Berndl, and Sterling Graburn following less than two points behind Leslie. 

The cones course was well thought out and technical with a few long runs mixed in. The course provided only a handful of double clear rounds throughout the day. Berndl and Graburn drove respective results with Leslie knocking the last ball down on course for three faults holding her in second. Stafford drove an accurate and conservative round putting in 2.26 time faults to take the National Championship title by a record lead of 14.13 points.

The single horse drivers are preparing for the World Single Horse Championships, which will beheld in Piber, Austria, in August 2016. The goal is bring home a team medal for the United States. 

“I didn’t feel much pressure going into cones, but I always have a personal goal when I compete,” Stafford explained. “A double clear round is what I have been training for so I was disappointed I was not able to make that happen. I am however extremely excited to be named the 2015 National Champion and I am happy for Hunny to have this honor, she deserves it. She is a once-in-a-lifetime horse. I am grateful and could not have the success without the support of my owners, sponsors, wonderful grooms, and family that hang in with my crazy schedule year after year.”

Photo credit: Pics of You

October 6, 2015

Stafford Doubles Down With Two Wins at The Kentucky Classic Combined Driving Event.

Suzy Stafford’s knowledge and experience proved her well yet again with two consecutive wins in different divisions at the FEI Kentucky Classic Combined Driving Event held at the Kentucky Horse Park October 1-4. Stafford’s Morgan mare PVF Peace Of Mind, known as “Hunny,” took home the FEI Advanced Single Horse Championship with a strong finish in all three phases of competition. Suzy also drove “Micha,” a young Dutch cross in the Preliminary Single Pony division, bringing home the blue for his owner and breeder Margaret Mayer of Ocala, Fla.
 
The weekend started with the threat of Hurricane Joaquin making its way to the Kentucky Horse Park. The ground jury opted to move the dressage and cones phase to the Rolex arena to provide optimum footing for the competitors and horses amid the deluge of rain that was expected. The hurricane did stay away but the rain did not. he rain was relentless from the vet jog on the starting day in competition through the end of marathon phase.

“I cannot tell you how appreciative I was that the jury and organizing committee made the decision to move the two phases into the Rolex arena,” Stafford said. “It made for safe footing for the horses in not so ideal conditions as well as providing the drivers the honor to be able to perform in such a prestigious setting. The stadium was just magnificent.”

Dressage was held over two days with the FEI divisions competing on Thursday. Stafford and Hunny drove the new FEI dressage test to the lowest score posted to date in the U.S. and in Europe. This was the first venue that the new test has been offered in competition for preparation for the USEF drivers to compete at the FEI World Championships in Austria in late summer 2016. 

“I am happy with the new test, it will highlight the horses trainability, obedience and elasticity between gaits,“ Stafford explained. “Hunny is a brilliant mover with presence and personality that comes through in competition. She is an amazing horse that I am privileged to own and drive!

On Friday the rain came down in sheets as the Preliminary and Intermediate competitors drove their dressage tests. Stafford drove “Micha,”a 6-year-old homebred owned by Margaret Mayer, to the best dressage score of the entire show. The judges were impressed with his obedience, consistency and quality despite the horrible conditions.

“Micha was a real trooper, he was light, obedient and focused even with the diesel trucks and windshield wipers going on the side of the area that the judges sat in,” laughed Stafford. “I gave him 4 gold stars for that performance!”

The dressage areas held up impeccably well and the volunteers were steadfast as they kept the warm-up ring flow running smoothly despite the weather.

“We cannot have shows without volunteers! As miserable as I and the horses were tromping around in the downpour, I am astounded and grateful for the volunteers that took the time to help with the show throughout the weekend,” Stafford said.

The marathon day was misty, muddy, and magnificent for both of Team Stafford’s entries. Her first outing on course was with the young pony Micha and Margaret, his owner/breeder, riding as navigator for the team effort. The course was unexpectedly challenging due to the footing and rainy conditions. A confident and steady round by the trio solidified their dressage lead going into the third day of competition. 

“It was gratifying for me to see Margaret able to enjoy watching and being part of the development of this young pony that she has bred and raised from birth,” Stafford said. “Micha is coming into his own now and showing his true potential as an FEI level candidate. He was extremely confident on this course and showed me that he is ready for the next step.

The second drive with Hunny proved Stafford was fast, accurate, and aggressive as the pair held their dressage lead going into the cones phase. 

“What a horse she is, graceful and elegant one day, confident, cocky, agile, and brave the next. Hunny is one special horse! I am also lucky to have a great team keeping everything in front and behind the scenes in order,” Stafford said. “A great navigator like Jeff Legg is essential as well as my groom, Emily Langer, who is at the start, finish, and vet check. They are an essential part of this team’s success and I am lucky to have such wonderful people supporting me.” 

A ray of sunshine shone over, not only Stafford, but the entire show ground on the last day of competition for cones obstacle driving on Sunday. Stafford threw down two double clear rounds with Micha and Hunny to solidify her weekend lead in both divisions.

“The course was flowing and open in the Rolex arena footing. I was worried while driving Micha that the carriage was sliding (fish tailing) a bit more that I had expected it would,” Stafford explained. “Margaret rode as groom for her pony and Jeff Legg rode on for my cones round with Hunny. I decided at the last minute to use Jeff for the FEI round as he is a bit heavier than Margaret. I know I would have to go faster with Hunny, so therefore I felt I needed a bit more weight on the back of the carriage for skid control. The plan worked to a tee and both equines came out businesslike and responsive. I could not be more pleased. I am grateful and could not have the success without the support of my owners, sponsors, wonderful grooms and family that hang in with my crazy schedule year after year!”
October 10, 2015 

Multiple Championships for Driver Suzy Stafford and Friesian Mare Isobel Ypkje van het Kasteel at the IFSHA Region 1 National Championships

Gold medalist Stafford continues her season winning four out of five national title championships with Isobel Ypkje van het Kasteel (Sipke X Feitse) a five-year-old Friesian mare owned by Gail Aumiller of Dream’s Come True Farm. 
The Big E hosts an array of open and all breed shows throughout the year. This weekend was a joint venture between the C.R.A.A. Arabian Region 1 Championships and the International Friesian Show Horse Association Region 1 National Championships. The coliseum was filled with horses and competitors looking to take home the Region 1 tri-color ribbons. The show atmosphere was competitive yet friendly. All the volunteers, exhibitors and trainers were brought together during the evening competitor’s party’s donated by a variety of gracious sponsors. 

Stafford showed “Isobel” to her first win of the weekend crowning the mare as the Region 1 Sport Horse in Hand of all mares. “This mare is an outstanding example of athletic ability, powerful gaits and superb conformation
. I true testament to the ultimate ideal in breed type. I am delighted to have the opportunity to train such a talented equine,” Stafford said.

The pair dominated the Carriage Pleasure Driving division throughout the weekend with the elegant and stylish mare. Suzy and Isobel’s maiden voyage in the Coliseum brought the duo their first Region 1 Championship title in the turn-out class. A true picture of grace, elegance and obedience was evident as the pair trotted home with the Championship. 

“This was the first time Isobel experienced showing in a coliseum setting with other carriages. I was thrilled with the way she handled herself and was able to stay focused at the job at hand,” Stafford said.

This was Isobel’s first time in the Coliseum but Stafford is no stranger to the venue. She recently competed there with her Morgan mare PVF Peace Of Mind to the First Level Dressage overall Championship at the Mass Morgan Show in early August.

“This was my third visit to the The Big E this year, on this go around it was as successful and delightful as the last. Isobel has never competed in an indoor Coliseum setting. I was pleased with the way the footing drove with the larger pleasure driving carriages,” Stafford explained. I am glad I took the opportunity to experience the show with her this year. The outing was fun and beneficial for the young mare. She is an extremely athletic mare with powerhouse gaits. Not only a delight for the spectators but a thrill for me to drive such a talented mare. The show was a wonderful addition to my calendar.” 

The first day of showing set the tone for Stafford and Isobel with another victory pass on day two for the pair in the IFSHA Region 1 Carriage Driving working class on Friday. The time, effort and meticulous care that goes into each and every exhibitors turn-out is impressive and inspiring to ringside spectators. The competition continued its blue ribbon trend for Stafford and Isobel on Saturday and Sunday. The unstoppable pair finished off the show winning The Region 1 Champion Open Friesian Sport Pleasure Driving as well as Region 1 Champion Carriage Pleasure Driving Reinsmanship and the Region 1 Champion Carriage Pleasure Driving Obstacle class.

“Isobel stayed fresh and enthusiastic throughout the weekend, she was all business in the ring and a joy to drive,” Stafford said “I am lucky to have an owner that will do what it takes to ensure success for her equines. From ringside help, moral and financial support to helping putting the finishing touches on the equipment and flowers on my jacket. I am a lucky lady to have such a supportive owner with exceptional equines. “Team Isobel” is just that, thank you to Gail, Thomas and Emily for all their hard work and dedication to the success of “Team Isobel!” 

The crowd at the event enjoyed cheering on their favorite competitor under the lights during Friday and Saturday’s evening sessions. The night was topped off by an exciting Isle party for exhibitors, volunteers and sponsors. The next stop for Stafford and Isobel is the FHANA Keuring held at Iron Spring Farm where Suzy will perform the driven IBOP test. 

Photo Credit: Tracy Kelsey

July 14, 2015

Bright Sky and Blue Ribbons Pave the Way for a Promising Future for “Acrosstime Black Cotton” and Driver Suzy Stafford at the 2015 Vermont Morgan Spring Classic
 
Stafford continued her successful season by dominating the Training Level Driven Dressage Division at the Vermont Morgan Spring Classic on June 18 with the Morgan gelding “Acrosstime Black Cotton” (Cassanova’s Cashon x Sleepys Jessie Dee).

The Big E was a wonderful venue for the Morgan breed to show off their hard work and training in many divisions. From the park division to western and carriage, the variety of classes was filled with wonderful horses and focused exhibitors. All the volunteers, exhibitors and trainers were all brought together during the daily evening party’s donated by a variety of gracious sponsors.
Stafford drove “Cotton,” a seven-year-old Morgan gelding owned by Jeanne Cassells of Lodi, Ohio, to winning results in two of the three driven dressage classes entered. The pair improved with each test and Cotton gained more and more confidence as he completed the progressive classes. 

Cotton was purchased by Jeanne as a young stallion in the hopes that she could give him a better life than the situation she found him in. He was mistreated and in bad physical condition with no training said his owner. He is now a thriving gelding getting the best education in harness as possible.

“Cotton was sent to me in the hopes of finding his niche in life and to match him with his permanent parent,” Stafford said. “He has progressed extremely quickly considering the baggage he came to me with. This was the first time he was off the farm and he improved every day during the show.”
       
Cotton started the show off with two training level dressage tests the first day. The first drive was accurate and polite but it was evident that Cotton was a bit distracted by the other drivers warming up, thus placing second in the first class. The second test that afternoon showed much improvement and the duo improved their score by 10 points, winning the class. The second day of competition, in which the pair drove Training level test 4, showed off Cotton’s training as it should. Cotton was much more relaxed and seemed to understand the horse show atmosphere after “sleeping on it” overnight. The two bested their score with the high score at Training level.
      
The unpleasant past of this tolerant little Morgan has paved the way for a bright and love filled future. Suzy’s next step for Cotton is moving up to the preliminary level at the Glenn Willow Combined test.
 
June 23, 2015 

Division Championships for Driver Suzy Stafford and Morgan Mare Absolute Sparkle at the Vermont Morgan Spring Classic


Stafford continued her successful season winning the Carriage Limit Division Horse Championship at the Vermont Morgan Spring Classic with the Morgan mare Absolute Sparkle (Equinox Challenger x Absolute Escape). 

The Big E was a wonderful venue for the Morgan breed to show off their hard work and training in many divisions. From the park division to western and carriage, the variety of classes were filled with wonderful horses and focused exhibitors. All the volunteers, exhibitors, and trainers were all brought together during the daily evening party’s donated by a variety of gracious sponsors.
Stafford drove Absolute Sparkle, a six-year-old Morgan mare owned by Rochelle Temple of Windsor, SC, to the division title. The pair dominated the division throughout the weekend only to be beat in the driven dressage class by Stafford driving another entry.

“This was my first visit to the The Big E and the Vermont Classic. The layout for the carriage division was delightful! The show field was out of the way of the other division preparing to show. I have a 10 minute walk rule for warm-up with my horses. The stables were exactly a 10 minute walk to the show ring. This was perfect for prep routine! I enjoyed having ample room to warm-up and school the horses. This is sometimes difficult in an exposition facility setting. I am glad I took the opportunity to experience the show this year. The outing was fun and beneficial for the young mare,” Stafford said. 

“Sparkle” started the show off with two preliminary dressage tests and two ring classes ending a busy day of competition for the pair. The “cool as a cucumber” demeanor of the mare and Stafford’s experience paved the way to early success. The duo dominated most of the driven dressage classes and showed their focus in the cones obstacle courses to secure the championship.

“The show was a wonderful addition to my calendar as I appreciated all the driven dressage classes. It gives some variety to the division and also allows for more opportunities for the carriage drivers out there” Stafford explained. “Sparkle had only one other outing under her belt showing in a combined test (dressage and cones) local to my farm in Pennsylvania. She got off the seven hour trailer ride to The Big E like she has been showing her whole life. This is a gal with a good head on her shoulders.”

The storms and inclement weather predictions held off for a second day of wonderful competition. Stafford drove Sparkle in two more preliminary dressage test with a total for the weekend of four different tests. 

“I pulled it off, but it may have been a bit ambitious of me. I also drove two other equines in four tests each, by the end of the day I was seeing spots… I mean 20 and 30 meter circles!” Stafford joked.

“I am very pleased with the way “Sparkle” handled herself as she was for sale as the perfect amateur driving companion. She proved this to be true not only with her relaxed demeanor throughout the show but also her brilliant performances in the show ring,” Stafford said.

Sparkle was purchased at the show by Janet Yager after demonstrating all the qualities and training Janet was searching for. “I was delighted to be able to give Sparkle the experience she needed and the opportunity to bring Janet and Sparkle together. They will be a perfect pair and I look forward to watching their relationship grow and seeing them in the show ring. I want to congratulate Janet on the purchase of such a delightful mare,” Stafford said.
June 5-6, 2015
Suzy Stafford drove "Isobel" a 5 yo Friesian mare owned by Gail Aumiller in the FEI 9 dressage test at the Elk Creek CDE to accumulate the 10 points needed to receive the "Sport Predicate" title for the mare. In March the team accrued two points in a driven dressage test in Florida. The duo was successful again here at Elk Creek putting in an impressive score of 78.% This score awarded the mare three more points toward the goal. We are half way there with this magnificent mare and we congratulate Gail Aumiller for her success!

May 18, 2015

A Warm Welcome from Suzy!

I would like to welcome Emily Langer to Team Stafford. Emily started with the barn as my working student for the 2015 winter season. Emily’s hardworking, logical attitude toward the job was impressive as well as her natural talent and enthusiastic interest in carriage driving. Emily shares my goals in always progressing and improving the horses training and well-being. This is when I knew she was a perfect permanent  fit for the Team. 

Emily started driving horses nine years ago, at the age of 13, after riding and showing horses throughout her childhood. She began working with draft horses in high school and devoted many years to working with multiple hitches and learning draft-powered tasks such as logging, producing hay, spreading manure, and pasture management. Not long after her introduction to draft horses she was also introduced to pleasure shows and CDE events. She worked for multiple farms and turnouts throughout New England to gain as much driving, grooming, and competition experience as she could. Those horses and experiences cultivated her love for the sport of carriage driving and shaped her career choices. Emily is a PATH International certified therapeutic riding instructor and the event coordinator for the Draft Animal-Power Network.

April 30, 2015

Abundant Sunshine and High Point Championships for Driver Suzy Stafford and Stilwell Spring at the 2015 Florida Citrus Cup
 
Suzy Stafford started off the Spring season continuing her winning ways bringing home the Carriage Division High Point Championship and the C. Brad Hammond Memorial Trophy at the Citrus Cup Morgan Show April 8 through11 with Stilwell Spring.

The Florida sunshine and warm welcome from exhibitors and show committee alike set the tone for wonderful weekend and great competition. Stafford drove Stilwell Spring, a six year old Morgan mare owned by Jay Zimmerman of Gettysburg, Pa., to the division title. The pair showed consistency throughout the week in the various classes to bring home the high point award.

“This was my first visit to the Citrus Cup as I am usually traveling home to Pennsylvania by then,” Stafford explained. “I am glad I took the opportunity to experience the show this year. The outing was fun and beneficial for this young mare.”
  
Stilwell Spring started the show off with a second in the Morgan Carriage Driving Working class. After one class under their belt it was full steam ahead toward the Carriage High Point Award. The duo dominated the driven dressage classes and showed their focus in the cones obstacle courses to secure the championship.

“The show was a wonderful addition to my calendar, as I appreciated all the driven dressage classes as well as the cones courses,” Stafford said. “It gives some variety to the division and also allows for more opportunities for the carriage drivers out there.”

This was not the first time in the winner circle for this pair. Suzy and Spring brought home the Single Horse division championship in February at the Grand Oaks Classic in Florida this year as well as the show’s High Point Morgan award.

“I am very pleased with the progress “Spring” has made with me over the winter. She is a lovely young Morgan that is developing nicely with age and experience. I am looking forward to watching her blossom in the next few years as a riding and driving companion for Jay,” Stafford said.

Stafford is known around the globe for her ability to harvest talent and develop horses and ponies for national and international competition. She has been long list with the United States Equestrian Federation with many different equines.

“I was delighted to be able to give Spring the confidence and experience she needs in this stage of her training. She is developing nicely and is enjoying her job. That makes me happy!” 

Photo credit: Natasha Douglas

April 16, 2015

Stafford secures a Driving Sport Predicate Title for the Dutch Friesian mare Ivanka Nicole

History was made again with Suzy Stafford holding the reins of a five year old Friesian mare named Ivanka Nicole (Sipke 450 x Weltsje Fan De Lege Geaen) owned by Crystal Burr. Stafford has completed the qualifications and catapulted “Ivanka” up the training scale in record time to receive the Driving Sport Predicate title. This is the second completion of this title to be held by any equine in the United States. The first successful attempt was also done by Stafford in 2012. “It makes my job easier when the owner believes whole heartedly in Ivanka and gives me all the tools I need to prepare her for success. Crystal allowed me to develop the mare and trusted the training plan. She was supportive and interested in the process,” Stafford says.  
The Sport Predicate can be awarded to mares, gelding, and stallions that achieve good results in competitive sport. It can be obtained based on results achieved at shows registered with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), United States Dressage Federation (USDF), and the American Driving Society (ADS). The scores registered with USEF, USDF, or the ADS determine qualification for the Sport Predicate. The Driving Predicate is achieved when a Friesian obtains ten points from FEI test #9 from at least three different FEI or 'R' rated judges. 
 
“Though the Sport Predicate is new territory for drivers in the United States, the qualifications are not,” Stafford says. “I am very familiar with the driven dressage test to be performed. The mare has very good basics and I was able to move along quickly with some fitness and strength training. She has an outstanding temperament, solid conformation and unbelievable trainability and movement.” 

“Ivanka’s future will continue with her owner Crystal as a broodmare and riding and driving companion. I look forward to watching what Ivanka produces and training her offspring,” explains Stafford.
 
Stafford says she now has her sights on a new goal, competing at the 2016 World Horse Combined Driving Championships in with her partner PVF Peace Of Mind. This 8-year-old Morgan mare and Stafford have been a team since 2011 and most recently took the Championship title at the Live Oak International combined driving event.
“I enjoy the variety I am blessed with in my barn. Friesians working toward breed titles, Morgans in the show ring to the combined driving competition horses. There is room for everyone here in the barn!” 

March 28, 2015

Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace Of Mind defend their Championship Title at Live Oak International Combined Driving Event

“I strive for personal best each and every time I enter the arena,” is the mantra of driving competitor Suzy Stafford.  At the Live Oak International CDE competition on March 19-22, Stafford showed that her personal best is winning first place. She and her mare PVF Peace Of Mind (who Stafford calls “Hunny”) defended their title winning the FEI Single Horse class for the third consecutive time.
 
Stafford and “Hunny,” her 8 year old morgan mare, have been partners since 2011 when she was purchased for Stafford as a FEI driving prospect. This is the second year at the FEI level for the pair, who won the reserve national championship last Spring at Southern Pines.

“I always knew Hunny was talented and had all the right qualities of an FEI level horse. I am excited that she is coming into her own, enjoying her job and doing it well. It takes patience and focus when developing a young horse with the FEI level as the ultimate goal. I have done my homework with her and now we are getting to enjoy the fun part,” Stafford explained.
    
The Live Oak International CDE took off to a good start for Stafford, who won the driving dressage portion of the competition on Thursday. “We had a few big mistakes in the test, but good ones, if that makes any sense,” said Stafford. 

“Hunny was feeling extra excited to compete at the largest CDE in the country. She had not shown since August and I was not able to rein in her enthusiasm in parts of the test, as she added in a few flying lead changes. I think it must have been the influence of the jumper competition and Hunny did not want to be shown up,” joked Stafford.
 
The weather for the second competition phase, marathon, was projected to be brutally hot with temperatures in the high 80s. The ground jury decided to lower the speeds on the tract out of concern of for the horses’ welfares. They also provided ice for the horses at the vet inspection after each section.

“All the modifications to the course were greatly appreciated by myself and my fellow competitors as the horse’s well being is always the top priority,” explained Stafford. “With these adjustments I was able to give Hunny a few walk breaks to catch her breath in the high heat and humid conditions. She is fitter, stronger, and more responsive this year and felt wonderful throughout the course. All the extra enthusiasm we had in dressage the day before served us well on marathon day, the girl was ready to rock and roll!”

The tough marathon course and harsh conditions proved to be a true test of Stafford’s training and conditioning program. Stafford and Hunny were awarded the Katie Williams Memorial Award for Best Conditioned Equine of the show. “I am thankful for this award as we all strive to prepare our horses for any and all conditions we may face in the competition arena,” said Stafford.
 
The final round was cones, where Stafford and Hunny dominated to course. Achieving the fastest time with no course faults pushed the duo’s large margin further ahead of the pack. The cones track was set throughout the jumpers course (to be ridden later in the day), which proved for a tricky drive for the competitors as most of the view of the cones was block by the enormous jumps.
 
“The jumps add a new element of difficulty to the course which I enjoyed,” remarked Stafford. “The mare was keen, focused and supple after the marathon phase. I could not have expected more from her, she was fabulous!”

Though Suzy and Hunny have been together for a few years now, Team Stafford has a few new additions in the line-up for this year. 

“I am excited to bring on a few new faces to our team,” said Stafford. “My groom, Emily Langer, has been with me for the winter and has demonstrated that she not only handles, but enjoys the job necessary in a busy show and training barn. I also had a new navigator, Jeff Legg, on the carriage for Live Oak who proved to be a wonderful accent to the team. I am thankful for all the hard work, team work and camaraderie that goes into a successful show. I could not have done it without them!”

February 20, 2015 

Grand Championship for Stafford and Talented Morgan Stilwell Spring at Grand Oaks Classic
As frigid winter conditions gripped much of the nation, the sunny oasis of the Grand Oaks Resort and Museum in Weirsdale, Fla., once again welcomed competitors to its picturesque grounds February 13 - 15, 2015 for the annual Grand Oaks Classic, a prestigious carriage pleasure driving competition sanctioned by the American Driving Society (ADS).  Under the stately live oak trees of the 400+ acre resort, World Champion combined driver and 2013 World and National Morgan Carriage Driving Champion Suzy Stafford of Wilmington, Del., added yet another championship to her trophy case by winning the Single Horse Division Championship against a large field of immaculately turned-out competitors.
 
Her partner in earning this title was the six-year-old Morgan mare Stilwell Spring (UVM Springfield x Salem Maurada by Entertainer) owned by Jay Zimmerman of Gettysburg, Pa., who flew to Florida to share in his mare's success.  Despite this being "Spring's" very first carriage driving show, Stafford was impressed with the way the elegant bay mare handled herself in the intense atmosphere of three days of competition.  "In our first class on Friday she needed to work through some 'first-show' jitters, but then she got better and better with every drive and this was reflected in the results," said Stafford. 

A fourth-place finish in the Friday afternoon cross country drive got things rolling for the pair, followed by three straight blue ribbons awarded over the duration of the weekend by judge Steve Holm in the Progressive Obstacle, Turnout, and Reinsmanship classes to clinch the division championship for Stafford and Spring.  In addition, second- and third-place ribbons in the Ride & Drive and Ladies To Drive classes (respectively) highlighted Spring's versatility and helped her also to be named winner of the American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) Morgan Open High Point Award.
 
"Spring is an incredibly talented Morgan with stunning good looks and a wonderful character. Even though our primary goal for her first show was simply to gain experience in the ring, I had of course hoped she would present herself well, and she exceeded my expectations," explained Stafford.  "I'd like to congratulate her owner Jay Zimmerman and thank him for the opportunity to present such a lovely mare.  I look forward to more success with her this year, perhaps in Morgan breed shows and additional ADS driving events."

Suzy is known around the globe for her ability to harvest talent and develop horses and ponies for National and International competition. Stafford has been long listed with the United States Equestrian Federation with nine different equines.
  
“I was happy to be able to give Spring the confidence and experience she needs in this stage of her training,” said Suzy.

Photo by Pics of You

2015 Winter Working Student Position in Ocala, Florida from Jan. 4 to April 15
 
12/10 UPDATE - This position has been filled. Thanks for your interest!

A working student position is available January through mid-April with World Champion, silver, and bronze medalist Suzy Stafford.

Looking for a self-motivated individual interested in learning more about the keys to successful training, competing, and caring for the pleasure and competition driving horse.

Position Criteria:
 Must be 18 years old or older
 Self-Starter
 Must be available January 4th through mid-April
 Must have own transportation
 Riding skills a must
 Familiarity with harnessing and hitching
 Basic horse management experience
 
This position includes housing for the student and one equine. You have the opportunity to work side by side in all aspects of training with a champion driver and trainer. Weekly tutelage with your equine is included. Possibilities to compete with coaching.

If you do not wish to bring an equine, minimal reimbursement for work will be provided.
Housing will be included.

For more information or to put in an application for this position ... FILLED


Sept. 28, 2014

Suzy Stafford Drives Friesians to Crowning Achievement
at 2014 FHANA Keuring
 
Dubbed “the queens of the Keuring” by the Friesian horse community, Iron Spring Farm's Evita ISF and Crystal Burr's Ivanka Nicole performed to crowning achievement in front of the able hands of trainer and driver, Suzy Stafford, at the September 18 FHANA Keuring hosted at Iron Spring Farm in Coatesville, Pa.
 
Stafford took Evita ISF, a five year-old mare (Ulbert x Tonne Boszorg) owned by Iron Spring, to a driven IBOP performance score of 80.5 to earn the breed's highest honors, Crowned mare status, and drove Ivanka Nicole, a four year-old mare (Sipke x Weltsje fan de Lege Gaen) owned by Crystal Burr, to an IBOP score of 78.5 to sweep honors as Crowned mare, Champion mare and Grand Champion of the Day.
 
In the Friesian horse community, the Keuring is an annual inspection of horses traditionally conducted by officials of the Dutch Friesian Studbook of The Netherlands.
 
The IBOP test is open to horses 4 years and older and its objective is to establish a horse’s suitability for various uses and to do so with the greatest degree of objectivity. The driven test consists of a dressage type pattern which includes walk, trot, extended trot and canter,
 
“I broke Evita to harness in May. She took to it quite well,” said Stafford. “Her kind, settled nature makes her ideal for driving. She has a magnificent trot, with suspension and swing to spare. It's a pleasure working with Evita and the staff at Iron Spring. They are passionate about their breeding program and their professionally run facility, with quality horses, makes my job easier.”
 
Evita came into the Keuring with “provisional Crown” status, having impressed judges in 2012 when her lovely gaits and conformation were first presented in-hand. To complete Crown status, she needed 77 points or above in the IBOP Driven Performance test. The judges, wowed by, as Stafford described, “her magnificent trot,” scored her 80.5 overall, easily giving the mare the score she needed.
 
“Ivanka came to me specifically to prepare for the IBOP Performance test. She is breathtaking, with presence and power,” Stafford said. “I wanted her in the best physical shape possible. She is a big mare with huge gaits and power to burn. As a young horse, she was sometimes overwhelmed by her own natural ability so I took time to strengthen her on hills to be sure she could carry all her natural power. This gave her the security and confidence she needed to show off her gaits here.”
 
The judges reflected their high praise of the young mare's canter, impulsion and balanced transitions with a score of 78.5. Stafford returned with her later the same day to take her from 2nd Premie to 1st Premie, and assuring her eligibility for Champion of the day as well as consideration for Crown Status.
 
After presenting her to the judges for a more discerning assessment of her trot in-hand work, they were impressed with her overall movement, conformation, elegance and power and agreed to Crowning her. 

“This is astonishing for such a young mare to achieve this honor,” said Stafford, who added that the mare will continue training with her, with the goal of earning the mare's Driven Sport Predicate.
 
“I am excited to pursue a Sport Predicate Title in 2015 for Crystal and Ivanka. This mare loves to drive and I think we will all enjoy the journey! It gives me pleasure when an owner sees potential in their horse and is willing to give them all the opportunities they deserve to become a superstar.”

Sept. 26, 2014

Suzy Stafford Paints Green Mountain Horse Association CDE a Winning Blue with Green Pony
 
September in Vermont is always a pleasure as nature paints its first strokes of autumn colors. For spectators to the Green Mountain Horse Association CDE in South Woodstock, there was the added pleasure of watching 2013 World and National Morgan Carriage Driving Champion Suzy Stafford demonstrate her champion style by driving to a handy victory in the Preliminary Pony Single division and setting the day's best dressage phase score, with a pony debuting in its very first competition.
 
Stafford, driving Margaret Mayer’s five year-old KWPN/Welsh Cob (Wilson-Lascaux Ginko x Marika) gelding, Micha, established a decisive four-point lead on day one in dressage, then paced themselves over the Green Mountain State's verdant hilly terrain in marathon to sit fourth before returning to the GMHA arena for the final cones phase, incurring just 1.05 additional penalties to take first in the class and overall standings. They won their CDE division on a total score of 91.56, well ahead of closest challengers Dwayne Pash of New Jersey and Scooter (101.35).
 
“We won our dressage with a 40.67 and that was a good start,” said Stafford, whose career wins also include the 2009 USEF Becky Hart Trophy. “It was the best score of the entire day and this was Micha's first show. I was extremely pleased how well he handled his first outing. I could not have asked for more from a young, inexperienced pony.”
 
“He is a homebred, by Margaret, and had never left his home in Florida until he came to me for training in Pennsylvania. I had him for three months prior to this show. He's a powerful pony with a brave attitude, eye appeal, and presence. He has a busy mind and I'm good at giving ponies a job and something to think about!”
 
Mayer, from Ocala, Florida, joined Stafford and Micha as their marathon navigator.

“She rode on the carriage with me, which she enjoyed tremendously. It's a delight to have an owner so hands-on and helpful for a show. Margaret seemed to enjoy the experience as much as Micha did! Hopefully more shows will be coming up for Micha in Florida this winter, with either me or Margaret taking the reins.”

Help Hunny and Suzy get to the 2014 World Championships! 

Sept. 11 Update: A letter from Hunny & Suzy 

Hear from Suzy’s partner, Morgan mare PVF Peace of Mind (known as “Hunny” around the barn), herself, as she explains all it takes for Team Stafford to qualify for the World Championships and get over to Europe to compete. Then help support their journey via their fundraising campaign > 





August 8, 2014

Protect and Drive: Stafford Endorses Dressage Sport Boots
 
Keeping horses fit and sound is key to success in the arena, and Stafford has chosen to endorse Dressage Sport Boots (DSBs) for the protection and support they deliver to her horses.  With a busy clinic and training schedule ahead of her for the summer and fall, Stafford plans to keep her horses at the top of their game using the best equine leg protection available. 
 
Dressage Sport Boots and All Sport Boots are unparalleled in quality and protection.  Their fleece or neoprene lined boots mold to the horse’s leg, providing ultimate protection while allowing for freedom of movement.  For turn out or for the extreme conditions on the marathon course, Stafford uses the All Sport Boot, which featured a neoprene lining over the rugged vinyl and a Coverlight™ Strike area to absorb impact. For working in dry conditions, Stafford outfits her horses in the Dressage Sport Boots.The original DSBs feature the traditional fleece lining over vinyl and the Coverlight™ strike area. The DSB2 Extended Strength, bolster up the protection even more, featuring a Coverlight™ exterior throughout, extra padding on the strike area, and Cordura binding on the bottom to reduce stitch wear.
 
In addition the multiple options for performance, the DSBs also feature a wide range of colors and styles, branching out from the traditional black and white to feature gray and pink patent exteriors and various fleece colors.  With a record of victories that includes winning a FEI Live Oak International CDE and the title of World Champion in both Morgan Carriage Driving and Friesian English Pleasure, Stafford has a proven record of success, one that she plans to continue with the support of Dressage Sport Boots.
 
“The Dressage Sport Boots and All Sport Boots are a great option for protecting my horses,” said Stafford.  “On the marathon there are many ways a horse can bang its legs or catch itself, and I like to keep their legs protected during all training as well, especially when driving multiple horses.  The boots are easy to clean and put on, and deliver protection when the horses need it most.”

June 30, 2014

World Champion Driver Suzy Stafford Hosts a Summer of Clinics

Stafford is prepared for a busy summer of doing what she loves best—competing in driving competitions and passing on her remarkable skills to others. With a record of victories that includes winning a FEI Live Oak International CDE and the title of World Champion in both Morgan Carriage Driving and Friesian English Pleasure, Stafford could obviously be a valuable resource to carriage drivers across the country. She’s making time throughout the summer to give several clinics to help fellow carriage drivers excel at their sport.

Stafford’s drive to succeed and love for horses have enabled her to overcome any obstacles in her way throughout her equestrian career, whether they be obstacles in the competition ring or obstacles in her personal life. She was originally involved in dressage and combined training, but was forced to permanently give up riding due to a leg injury. Stafford enthusiastically took on the challenge of transferring her talent to carriage driving. In 2004, she became the youngest and first American driver ever to win Individual Gold in an international driving competition.

She is now known for being an accomplished driver, trainer, instructor, and clinician. This summer, Stafford will be offering the following clinics: 

    July 9: Cones Schooling Clinics at Stafford Carriage Driving in Coatesville, Pa.
          (Contact Suzy ponydriverss@aol.com)
    July 11-13: Clinic in Cedar Rapids, IA
          (Contact Laurie Renda at (319) 360-1078 or laurie@touchofclassinc.com)
    July 26-27: Suzy Stafford Hazard Clinic at Glen Willow in Avondale, PA           
          (Contact Hannah Pollsan at polshanb@earthlink.net)
    Aug. 13: Cones Schooling Clinics at Stafford Carriage Driving in Coatesville, PA
           (Contact Suzy at ponydriverss@aol.com)
Even while hosting numerous clinics, Stafford will be competing throughout the summer both nationally and internationally. She looks forward to the challenges that await, including showing in the World Single Horse Championships in Hungary. Competing in this show is a goal she has been dedicated to working towards with her Morgan mare PVF Peace Of Mind (called “Hunny”).

May 5, 2014

Suzy Stafford and Hunny Find Success at Southern Pines CDE

Stafford and her seven-year-old Morgan mare PVF Peace Of Mind (affectionately known as “Hunny”) drove the competition out of the horse park at the Southern Pines CDE this April with impressive results in every phase of the competition. Stafford earned the title of overall Reserve Champion.
The Southern Pines CDE USEF National Singles Championship was held at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, NC, April 11- 13. Stafford kept her record of victories going strong throughout the competition. She placed first in the marathon phase, second in the dressage phase, and fourth in the cones phase. Her scores put her in Reserve Champion position for the overall competition. Stafford’s performance in the marathon phase was so remarkable that she received a perpetual trophy in addition to her first place score. 

“It was the Milton Long Perpetual Trophy and it was for the best advanced marathon of the entire show,” Stafford explained. “This trophy honors the late son of International driver Bill Long and and his wife Linda. His son had a strong interest in his fathers passion and it is nice to remember him is this way.”
  
Despite Stafford’s outstanding performances throughout the weekend, her favorite part of the show was reaching a personal goal she had set for herself and her equine partner Hunny. 

“I would say the best thing would be the progression in the marathon as far as the mare goes,” Stafford said. “My homework between Live Oak and Southern Pines was to work on her marathon, and I did accomplish that. She certainly has the results and the trophy to prove it.” Stafford also expressed gratitude for her sponsors, her navigator, Larry Hart, and her groom, Marry Fetters, for helping make her success possible.

Ever since 2004 when Stafford became the first American and youngest driver to ever win an individual gold medal in an international driving competition, she has met continuous success in competitions. She and Hunny, who Stafford purchased at the age of three, are a particularly unstoppable duo with high-set goals and the talent to reach them. International competition is next on their agenda. 

“I will do a smaller prep show here in August, and then ship over to Europe the first week of September,” Stafford said. “In the perfect scenario, I would compete over in Europe and then compete in the World Championships in Hungary.” 

Stafford is currently working on plans for sponsorships and a possible auction to raise the funds that she and Hunny will need to be able to show off their talent on an international stage.  

April 25, 2014

Suzy Stafford Takes the Win at Live Oak International CDE

“I strive for personal best each and every time I enter the arena,” says Stafford.  At the Live Oak International CDE competition, which was held March 19-23.  Stafford showed that her personal best is winning first place. She and her mare PVF Peace Of Mind (“Hunny”) won the FEI Single Horse division despite tough competition.

Stafford is no stranger to success in driving competitions. She won at last year’s Live Oak International CDE, and placed second by less than a full point this February in the Advanced Single Horse division of the Kingdom of the Sun CDE. Stafford and Hunny won the title of USEF Morgan National Carriage Champion in 2013, and Stafford was recently named to her tenth USEF Long List since 2000.

The Live Oak International CDE took off to a good start for Stafford— winning  the driving dressage portion of the competition. 

“Hunny is strongest in the dressage phase,” Stafford said. “She is such a wonderful mover and loves the center stage. I have owned her since she was three, and have brought her along carefully to ensure good training would showcase her natural ability.”

The driving dressage put Stafford in first place in her division (the FEI Single Horse division) by three points, and the marathon class added another three points to her lead although the pair placed second in the class.

“Marathon is still a work in progress for us. I was not as clean and smooth as I was hoping for. This mare has such a huge stride sometimes it is hard to manage in the tight obstacles. This will be our homework for the next few months,” Stafford determined.

The final round was cones, where with a ball down and a few time penalties Stafford came close to placing second overall. With a .67 point lead though, she claimed the title of champion in the FEI Single Horse division. 

“How boring would it have been if I won by 6 points?” Stafford joked. “I wanted to add intrigue and nail biting suspense for the spectators.”  

“I was not impressed with my cones round,” she added on a more serious note.   “Luckily it was enough to keep the others at bay.” 

Overall, Stafford was happy with the performance she and Hunny gave. “This mare is truly one of a kind. It was like she was built specifically for this sport. Athletic, powerful, beautiful mover, and a super working attitude,” she said of her seven-year-old Morgan.

What’s next for Stafford? “My plan is to make the World Singles Team held in Hungary at the end of September. Next up is Southern Pines, the Single Horse National Championship.”

April 4,2014

Suzy was on the Driving Radio Show - have a listen and enjoy!

Driving Radio Show Episode 142




March 8, 2014


SEF Long Lists Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace of Mind As She Eyes World Championships
It's been a “Hunny” of a season for Stafford, who has been named to her tenth USEF Long List since 2000, after handily winning the dressage phase and finishing second overall with her seven year-old registered Morgan mare, PVF Peace of Mind (aka Hunny) in the Advanced Single Horse division of the Kingdom of the Sun CDE, February 20-23, at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala.

“We won our dressage with a 32 and had one ball down in cones, dropping us to second place going into marathon,” said the 2009 USEF Becky Hart Trophy winner.

That's when her 2013 World and National Morgan Carriage Driving Champion, demonstrating the prowess in harness that has historically made it a breed of choice among American driving horses, tenaciously held on to reserve over cross-country and only missed the overall win at Ocala by a scant eight-tenths of a point.        

Hunny, Stafford says, has always had a “been there, done that” attitude to competitive pressure. The daughter of dressage sporthorse Morgan, Statesman Signature, Hunny started her show career in 2011 winning the Single Horse division championship at the Brandywine Driving Show before going on to her first CDE that fall, where she achieved the lowest dressage score of the show.        

Stafford's presence on the USEF Long List marks the tenth time she has qualified with a horse or pony. The veteran whip and her mare face a busy qualifying season towards a slot on the squad competing for the United States at the 2014 World Single Horse Championships in September. The pair will return to Ocala to defend their title won at last year's FEI Live Oak International CDE (March 20-23) before going to the Southern Pines CDE (April 10-13) in North Carolina and Gladstone HDT (May 2-4) in New Jersey.        

Stafford said she’s eager to introduce a horse as talented as Hunny to that world spotlight. “Driving is my passion and I love representing my country by doing what I love best.”

Neither Stafford nor Hunny will be going it alone. “I have a great team who really support me. The backing of my sponsors, owners and clients make this possible. We are a team and I am so grateful for that.”        

February 26, 2014

Suzy Stafford Guides the Young Gelding “Demi- Mer” to the Win At The Grand Oaks Classic 

Stafford gave Demi-Mer, a six-year-old American Warmblood gelding a confident drive for the win at the prestigious Grand Oaks Classic Carriage Driving Show in Weirsdale, Florida.
                         
Stafford decided to use Grand Oaks as “Duo’s” maiden voyage in the show ring. The pair’s first ring class of the day was the turnout class. The class was well attended with entries in the double digits and the arena was filled with many beautiful turnouts and seasoned competitors. Stafford and Demi-Mer bested the competition winning the class with a steady performance and a beautiful picture.

“What an experience this show was for me, I had never shown myself at this venue,” Stafford said. “The show has the most gorgeous layout and the grounds are kept impeccably. Duo, as we call him at home, showed himself very well. He had never been in the ring with other horses and was a bit confused at first not knowing whether to catch up to them or hang back. He quickly sorted it out and went on like a seasoned veteran. This is one of his wonderful qualities. He is up for anything new and different and enjoys his work.” 

The remaining classes consisted of a cross country drive class and a few cones classes. Stafford and Duo finished in the ribbons in every class.

 “There was a bit of confusion on my part about the rules of the Cross Country class. I was driving for the Optimum time printed on the maps but the scores were based on fastest time,” Stafford explained. “Needless to say we did not win the class but my first time groom Teresa Jackson helped me come in just a few seconds under optimum time. Duo was fabulous, he trotted right through the water obstacle and held a nice steady pace that was asked of him. I could not have been more pleased with the results of our team.” 

Stafford said the next step for Duo is to find his own special partner. “I purchased Duo as a resale project. I saw a kind horse with good character, conformation and talent that needed the training and miles that I could provide. He is now ready for his ‘own person’ and he will further his show career with me until sold.”

View Demi-Mer on the sales page > 


November 11, 2013

Suzy Stafford and “Ytsje P.” Dominate The English Pleasure Division At The 2013 International Friesian Show Horse Association World and National Championship Horse Show

Stafford took the reins and sat astride “Ytsje P.,” a Friesian mare owned by Karen Hall, to the World Championship title in the English Pleasure division. She not only won the under saddle division but also bested the rest in the driving English Pleasure division, cinching the championship as well. 

“We went to the show with the goal of getting Ytsje P. some good experience as she has never shown before,” Stafford explained. “I was pleasantly surprised how composed the mare was during the show. She truly conducted herself like a lady and a seasoned competitor.”

Stafford has found herself becoming a familiar face in the breed show arena where she continues her winning ways. The show runs for six days as there are many different divisions and many classes at this World Class venue. The plan for Ytsje P.and Stafford was to enter the Show Driving division and see how the mare took to the show ring. As most of these classes were at the end of the week, Stafford decided to enter the mare in a ridden English Pleasure class on a whim. She had to borrow everything but the kitchen sink to do so - a saddle, bridle, and show clothes - but managed to enter the class and take the World Championship title!

 “Holy cow, they called my number and I had to look around to make sure it was me they were calling for,” Stafford said laughing. “I had ridden Ytsje P. at home a handful of times to prepare her for her Keuring inspection the week prior, not expecting I would show her under saddle. She was so steady, alert and responsive. Truly a wonderful feeling! These are the times I miss my competitive riding days!”
   
Stafford and Ytsje P. were just as successful in the driven class in the English Pleasure division, winning the class by a large margin.

“Well, I guess now we know where this mare belongs in the show ring. She is confident, happy and competitive in the English Pleasure division. I could not be happier with her performances all week and love that her owner Karen was able to be here to experience her first Horse Show experience as an owner and going home with a World Champion in her trailer! That is a great day!”

October 31, 2013

International Driver Suzy Stafford Scores the Highest IBOP Marks in North America with The Friesian mare “Sjaantje Sport”.
 
Stafford trained and drove the Friesian mare, Sjaantje Sport, (Tsjerk X Ritse) to an 81.5 score, the highest driving score in North America, to win the 2013 Dream Gait Friesians Driven IBOP Cup. After that performance, Sjaantje was presented in-hand, earned a first premium (1e), solidifying her star predicate title, and with both Dutch inspectors in agreement was awarded yet another title: Crown, the highest quality accolade a Friesian mare can earn until she has foaled.
“I have been working with Gail and ‘Sjaantje’ for almost three years. This achievement was truly exciting for me as I know how committed Gail is to the success of this mare,” Stafford said. “This is something that Gail really wanted for her and I am ecstatic that I was able to help her achieve this goal.”
The purpose of this examination is to establish a horse’s suitability for various uses and to do so with the greatest degree of
objectivity. Every horse aged four or older can be presented for this examination (riding test, driving test or show driving test).

Participation in more than one test on the same day is possible. Horses can be entered for the examination via the KFPS. The
results of an IBOP test can be used for obtaining the star, crown or model titles (see the KFPS registration regulations). This breed specific test enables the registry to evaluate a horses natural abilities as a performance horse as well as the equines physical conformation, movement, balance and type.
 
In 2011 Stafford drove Sjaantje to multiple National Championship titles at the IFSHA World and National Horse Show. 2012 brought another first for this partnership, securing the first KFPS/FHANA Friesian outside of the Netherlands to earn the Sport predicate title in harness. With big shoes to fill, the next step for Sjaantje and Stafford is to compete again for the Carriage Driving National title at the IFSHA World and National Horse Show held in Lexington, Va.  
“This show directly follows the Keuring and is located at the same venue. This makes for a convenient and great opportunity to pull in more entries to the largest Friesian show in the country,” Stafford explained. “I will be excited to work to keep Sjaantje’s national titles and watch Gail drive her as well in the amateur classes.”

October 25, 2013

Champion Driver Suzy Stafford wins the American Driving Society 2013 Year End Intermediate Championships with “TTE Tea Time”

Stafford has brought a new driving partner to the top of the leader board to take home the 2013 American Driving Society’s Intermediate Championship, driving Wendy O’Brien’s Morgan gelding “TTE Tea Time” to a steady and consistent season up and down the East Coast. 
”I was excited at the opportunity to drive for Wendy O’Brien,” Stafford said. “We found the pony in early spring of 2012 and although he drove, he had never been shown in combined driving. He had a lot of natural ability for the job and took to it with ears forward.”

The year-end championship program is intended to recognize, encourage, and inspire drivers in American Driving Society Combined Driving events in the Intermediate Division. The program is designed to enable these drivers to measure themselves against others at the same level of proficiency, acknowledging that it is not practical for them to meet to compete head-to-head because of the size of the country.
 
“This a great opportunity for drivers to rate their progress and motivate them to strive for excellence and move up the levels with confidence.  Everyone likes to be recognized for their accomplishments in some fashion and this is one of many great ways to fulfill that need,” Stafford said.

“TTE Tea Time” and Stafford will continue at the Advanced level for 2014 in preparation for the 2015 World Pony Championships.


October 10, 2013

The character, quality and presence of the Morgan Colt “Stilwell Caisson” could not be denied by the judges and spectators alike at the historic 2013 Dressage At Devon breed show
Dressage At Devon allows exceptional breeding programs to showcase their best blood stock at the most historic and prestigious breed show on the East Coast. “Stilwell Caisson,” a Morgan yearling colt owned and bred by ALB Morgans and Andy Brown of Stilwell, Kansas, showed he posseses the temperament, type and quality to be competitive among the elite warmblood breeders entered in the yearling division. 

“Caisson” placed in the top ten of a very competitive, large group of warmbloods in his first trip off the farm. Caisson is under the watchful eye of trainer Suzy Stafford and at her farm in Coatesville, Pa.
“I met Andy and was introduced to his ALB Morgan breeding program a year ago,” Stafford said. “He inquired about my services and wanted to breed and develop international caliber Morgans for the dressage, jumping, combined driving and reining disciplines. I took one look at Caisson as a weanling and knew he had all the attributes of a future champion.”                    
The Morgan breed is gaining popularity with the disciplines historically predominated by the Warmblood breeds, and with careful breeding programs focused on athleticism and performance, more Morgans are being seen in the upper levels.
“I think people are gravitating to the Morgan due to their trainability, soundness, and manageable size,” Stafford explained. “As a whole the Morgan is a versatile, kind breed with a work ethic any trainer would want in their barn. I am excited to watch Caisson develop to his full potential. I am not sure if it will be with me, as the owner is accepting inquires on this talented youngster, but he judges’ remarks were positive, noting his great character and exceptional suspension and ground cover.”

October 2, 2013

Champion Driver Suzy Stafford Shows The True Versatility of the Morgan Horse with “PVF Peace Of Mind” Winning Multiple Disciplines at the New York Morgan Region 2 Championships.
 
Stafford continued her winning ways this summer with her Morgan mare “PVF Peace Of Mind,” who was bred by Parlor View Farm in Elmira, NY. The pair competed at the New York Morgan Region 2 Championship in the Open Hunter Pleasure division, Carriage Driving division and the First Level ridden dressage class.                   
With a full schedule of classes on their plate Stafford and “Hunny,” as she is known to her closest friends, showed the versatility is one of many exceptional qualities in the Morgan breed. The duo moved seamlessly from the Open Hunter ring, the dressage arena, and the Carriage division bringing home amazing results.
They kicked off the weekend by winning a second place in open Hunter mares, followed by the winning ride in the dressage arena at First Level test 1. The pair’s last ride of the weekend found them standing in the top 5 in the Open Hunter Championship.

“This was a wonderful experience for Hunny and I - I have just started experimenting in the Hunter division and this was the second show for us in this division.,” Stafford said. “She was spectacular and carried herself like a true pro. Now, I cannot say the same in the dressage arena, this is one of my comfort zones and I had a great ride despite the sloppy footing.”

The remaining classes of the last day showed the strength in both these amazing athletes. The Carriage class division was one of the larger size classes. Stafford and Hunny stayed focused and proved their fitness and training program was a successful one. Their elegance in the turn-out class, relaxation and consistency in the working class, and Hunny’s athleticism in the cones secured the Overall Carriage Driving Championship title.

 “I was thrilled to see so many entries in this division! This is mainly what I train for at home and this division is growing and gaining popularity. This is the way to end a five day show. This horse is amazing, she is so trainable and athletic. Her work ethic is amazing and I swear I see her smiling for the crowd. She loves to show off,” Stafford said.
    
The next stop for this team is The Morgan Grand National in Oklahoma City. This is the largest Morgan breed show in the country and only the best of the best will be showing off this magnificent and versatile breed.
”I am looking forward to the ‘Oklahoma experience’ - this will be my first trip to the Grand National and I excited to show off my wonderful mare and watch the talent in the other divisions!” 

September 28, 2013

World Champion Driver Suzy Stafford brings home multiple Championships at the Baroque Horse Classic and IFSHA Region 2 Championship with the Friesian Mare “Sjaantje Sport”
                    

Stafford has found herself becoming a familiar face in the breed show arena where she continues her winning ways. Seamlessly competing at a Combined Driving Event one weekend then at a pleasure or breed show the next.
“I do enjoy showing - don’t get me wrong, I would be lying if I said I am not a competitive person,” she explained. “But for me showing, whether it is a CDE or breed show, is more about getting an evaluation of my training progress on each individual horse by another equine professional. Winning is a bonus!” 

Suzy and Sjaantje made several flawless trips around the show ring to bring home the championship win in open turn-out, working, cones and reinsmanship classes. Sjaantje’s owner Gail Aumiller also took the reins in the Amateur division with just as an impressive weekend. Aumiller took home the Championship wins in working, cones, turn-out and English pleasure driving. The crowning moment (literally) was when Gail and Sjaantje brought home the Regional Champion honors in the costume class.

 “This horse is so kind, willing and trusting. At this show the mare did a total of sixteen classes. Not once did she protest going into the arena again and again. Granted she is fit as a fiddle but her mental state of mind was impeccable. I do believe Sjaantje likes to show off as much as her mother likes to show her off,“ Stafford said laughing.

The next step for this magnificent trio is the IFSHA World and National Championship show held in Lexington VA the October 2nd-6th  2013. 

“I am excited for Gail, who will be showing the Amateur division as well as the costume class. She has blossomed as a driver and I expect great thing from the two of them. She is fully committed to working hard and giving Sjanntje every opportunity to shine. I truly appreciate that in an owner,” Stafford said.

August 17, 2013 

PVF Peace Of Mind has made her debut in the Hunter Ring at the American Fair Morgan Show with a bang bringing home all blue to win the Championship Division title.

Suzy decided to leave her carriage behind and get back in the saddle to ride PVF Peace Of Mind, known around the barn as “Hunny,” in their first hunter under saddle division at the American Fair in Hamburg, NY. 

Stafford grew up training in the United States Pony Club, which focused on the riding disciplines of dressage, eventing, and show jumping, as well as horse management skills.

“It felt good getting back in the saddle on a competitive level,” Suzy said. “I do ride the driving horse in training at the farm on occasion but have not competed under saddle in a while. It’s like riding a bike, you way never ‘forget’ how to do it but you will be darn sore if you don’t do it often!”

Suzy explained that Hunny was a true show horse in the ring, and as the days progressed she got better and better, almost knowing she had to make her presence known to the judges.

“We will be showing in harness and under saddle in the next two months leading up to the Morgan Grand National,” she said. “I have never been but I am looking forward to going to the largest Morgan breed show in the world!”

August 12, 2013

Check out Suzy in the Morgan Horse Magazine! She was named to the 2013 American Morgan Horse Association Woman of the industry Honor Roll award!




July 11, 2013

Congratulations to "Jasper"  owned by Jane Oheler! Suzy drove him to the Reserve Championship at the Susquehanna Whips and Wheels Carriage Driving Show in Hughesville, Pa.

         


Champion Driver Suzy Stafford brings home the Championship for Llawen Farm’s homebred “Llawen Taran” in his first full division at the 2013 Susquehanna Whips and Wheels Carriage Driving Show
 
Stafford continued her winning ways this summer by bringing home the Novice Pony Division Championship at the Susquehanna Whips and Wheels Carriage Driving Show. The thunderstorms and heavy rain gave way to a wonderful weekend for the exhibitors.                   
“Llawen Taran,” owned and bred by Jayne Treharne, started the day off winning the driving suitability in-hand class, showing he has the type and temperament for the job. Proving this throughout the day, Taran dominated with the blue ribbon in the turn-out class as well as showing his trainability in the reinsmanship class with another first place finish.

“I am very pleased with the progress Taran has made with me in the past two months,” Stafford said. “He is a quality pony that is developing nicely with age and experience and I am looking forward to watching him blossom in the next few years as a riding and driving pony.”

Taran and Stafford finished the second day of the show with a dressage test, a cones round, and a pleasure cross country drive. The courses were fun and inviting for the novice pony. The team’s consistency in the dressage test, smooth cones round, and near perfect timing on the cross country brought home the division Championship for Taran and Stafford

“I was pleased to see that Taran handled the overnight show and came out the next day ready to focus and go to work,” Stafford said. “And I am delighted that Taran’s owner and breeder, Jayne Treharne, was able to ride with me on the cross country phase. She was a great navigator and kept us on track and on time for the big win.” 

“I was happy to be able to give “Taran” the confidence and experience he needs in this stage of his training. He is for sale and will be a great project for someone to bring along as he has the talent, temperament and trainability for a lovely ride and drive partner.”

June 18, 2013 

A Visit with World Champion Pony Driver Suzy Stafford
Check out this great piece about Suzy on DressageDaily.com!

June 13, 2013

Stafford takes the win at The Elk Creek Combined Driving Event with “Domani” in his maiden driving show experience
 
Stafford’s knowledge and experience guided “Domani,” a Swedish Warmblood owned by Wendy and Lee Griffith, through his first driving competition with winning results.     
                    
Domani is starting his second career in life as a pleasure and competitive driving horse after a successful career as a ridden dressage horse.

“Domani has very good dressage basics from his former career so the dressage for him comes easily, Stafford explained. “He truly loves to drive and it shows in his confidence between the shafts in his day to day work and on the marathon course.” 

The Elk Creek Combined Driving Event is a wonderful venue for the young or green horse. The long quiet walk to the dressage and cones arena gives the horses a great opportunity to relax and warm-up in a non-stress atmosphere. Domani truly benefited from the layout of the property, and earned the best dressage score of the entire show, winning his division.

The marathon course was shortened due to the extreme heat advisory on Sunday by the officials. Domani didn’t show his lack of experience as he powered through the course with a relaxed, forward drive.

“He really enjoyed the marathon, including the water. He loves to see the world and has many opportunities to do that in harness. I call him the tourist - if he could bring a camera on his drives he would!” Stafford said with a smile.
 
Domani is a special horse with a love and talent for carriage driving. He is now looking for his forever home where he can blossom as a driving horse.

June 9, 2013

Stafford and “Jasper” tie for Single Pony Championship at the Bucks County Pleasure Driving in the Park Show
 Stafford drove twelve year old Welsh pony “Jasper,” owned by Jane Ohler, to a tie in the Single Pony division of the Bucks County Pleasure Show. The tie was broken by the reinsmanship score and Jasper was awarded the Reserve Championship respectively.

This year the show is part of the Mid-Atlantic Challenge, which will award the turnout with the most points accumulated at the four show participating in the challenge, a beautiful, fully loaded, russet leather spares kit.

“I was sent Jasper a month ago for a training re-boot, to get him back in the swing of things after his fall and winter vacation,” Stafford said. “His mother, Jane, also needed the time to heal herself after an injury that is keeping her out of the box seat for the summer. I was thrilled with his progress after short time of training!” 

“Jasper’s consistency in all of his ring classes helped Suzy solidify the Reserve Championship. Winning the working class as well as the cones class and then placing second in the reinsmanship class and fourth place in the turn-out was enough to secure the tri-color ribbon.

“I had a great time at this fun local show that was run by hard-working volunteers,” Stafford said. “The pony showed his ability to be consistent and patient in the show ring atmosphere. The cones are his true favorite! A really cute pony with a hardworking attitude is always fun to drive!” 

June 8, 2013

Stafford Takes Home the coveted Devon Horse Show Championship in the Single Horse division with the Friesian Mare “Sjaanje Sport”
                        
Stafford has come into 2013 with her first trip to The 117th Annual Devon Horse Show as an exhibitor and showed consistency and experience paved the way to bring home the Single Horse Championship. Stafford and Sjaanje won the pleasure drive class held Memorial Day weekend in a course of 4.5 miles through the neighborhood surrounding the show grounds ending in the Dixon Oval for a drive off and award ceremony for spectators looking on. 

“What an experience this show was for me, there is so much history and tradition that goes into every aspect of this Horse Show,” Stafford said. “I was delighted to be a part of it as a competitor and I was ecstatic that Sjaanje’s owner Gail was able to ride with me in the pleasure drive class as well as the Cones Scurry. This was ones of Gail’s dreams, to compete at Devon, but a rotator cuff surgery temporarily took her out of the box seat. She asked me to drive the mare in her place as she wasn't going to let her minor setback ruin her dream. I truly appreciate Gail’s dedication to this horse and her dreams!” 

Suzy and Sjaanje held their own in the turn-out class held on Monday finishing third in the class of abundant talent and beautiful antique carriages. A true Devon evening filled with regal horses and great competition. The duo’s fast cones scurry round on Tuesday evening secured the Overall Single Horse Championships as well as providing exciting entertainment to the lookers on celebrating the evening of jumpers and carriage horses.

“I felt privileged be able to compete at such a historic venue with a wonderful, talented mare that I adore. I am grateful to Gail for sharing her beautiful girl with me as I know how much she means to her. I am looking forward to Gail taking up the reins for the rest of the show season so she may enjoy S.J. as much as I did,” Stafford said.


April 2, 2013

Suzy Stafford has teamed up with HorseShow.com to provide video lesson and evaluations online!

Do you have a hard time getting to a lesson? Is consistent professional training hard to get in your area? This is a great way to stay in touch and get quick pointers from World Champion driver Suzy Stafford.

Go to HorseShow.com and sign up today!

March 31, 2013

Stafford prevails as FEI Champion at Live Oak International with TTE Tea Time
 
Suzy Stafford secured the win on the final day of the Live Oak International Combined Driving Event. Three days of tough competition left driver Stafford and TTE Tea Time having to prove themselves and their skills in each phase. The close scores between three of the drivers made for nail-biting excitement at each turn.    
This was TTE Tea Time’s first showing in the FEI division and he showed he has what it takes to get the job done. “Trae” is a Morgan owned by Wendy O'Brien and was purchased for Stafford with the goal to compete at the World Championships this year in Pau, France.  

“Trae is a natural competitor, he knows when to ‘turn it on’ and that is something you cannot train. I cannot believe the progress he has made in such a short time,“ says Stafford.

The pair were second by one point in the dressage phase, just behind Tracey Morgan, leaving no room for error on the second day of marathon. Marathon day was challenging and demanded focus and tactful driving as the hazards were long and technical.

“Trae took the challenge head-on and showed me he was ready to be competitive with the rest of the seasoned ponies,” says Stafford. 

When the scores came in Stafford and Trae were just off the fastest mark, which was posted by Paul Maye, keeping them in second place overall. As a result, Stafford came into the cones round off the lead by one point. 

“There were many distractions in the ring and the winds was blowing relentlessly. The show jumps were scattered about and gave for some clever driving to get the line you wanted in the course,” explains Stafford. “Luckily Trae is a very focused pony and keeps to the business at hand. He was ready to win and left it up to me to drive clean!" 

Stafford drove the only double clean in the division, clinching the win and the best FEI score of the competition.
      
Stafford and O’Brien have the same goal for Trae and both have their sights set on the World Pony Championships in Pau, France this year.

“Striving for success is simple when my owners and sponsors believe wholeheartedly in my judgment, skill and training program,” says Stafford.  

Photo courtesy of Pics Of You 

March 11, 2013 

Stafford dominates two divisions at the Little Everglades International Combined Driving Event

Suzy Stafford came home with the tri-colored ribbon in the Intermediate division with her own Morgan mare PVF Peace Of Mind and was crowned Champion in the Preliminary division with J.P., a Hanoverian gelding owned by Diane Ameter.

This was the first time Stafford and Peace Of Mind competed at the Intermediate level, winning the dressage with a stellar score of 39. 

“This mare has three wonderful gaits and a super work ethic, " Stafford says. "Dressage has always been one of her strong phases and she only seems to get better with age and strength.”

J.P. made his mark in the dressage arena as well by winning his dressage phase with a consistent, relaxed test.

“Having J.P. relaxed and happy in his work at a show has been my main goal in his training," Stafford explains. "The goal is to have him solid enough in his basics for his owner Diane to take the reins next month and put in the same relaxed drive. I feel that I have accomplished that here in the ring.”

Marathon day for both horses was a challenge as the heat brought on a shortened course by the officials. Peace Of Mind was all business as she tackled the obstacles with strength and agility. 

“I am delighted how game this horse is becoming in the obstacles, she is getting more power as she develops and it is a great feeling to have that strength when I asked her for it," Stafford says.

J.P. took all his new experiences in stride including the water complex. He stayed forward and consistent throughout the course.

“I am happy with his gung-ho attitude through the obstacles as he can be tentative at times and I am looking forward to Diane taking the reins at the next CDE at this level so she can enjoy her horse as much as I have," says Stafford.

“It takes a lot of work and organization to drive two different turn-outs in two different divisions. I would not have been able to do it and be successful without the help of J.P.’s owner Diane Ameter and my working student Stacey Hoff. They kept me on schedule and made sure everything that the horses and equipment needed was taken care of so I could focus on driving and learning the courses. I am truly grateful for them," Stafford added.

Two double clear cones rounds secured their places at the top of the leader board.


January 24, 2013

A double Win for World and National Champion Driver Suzy Stafford at the Nature’s Coast Horse Driving Trial in Florida
The sunny, warm climate has boded well for Stafford in her first competition on the 2013 season. 

Driving PVF Peace Of Mind, a 6 year old Morgan mare owned by Stafford, the team brought home the best overall dressage score of the competition, and best cones, which led them to the Overall Division Champion.

“I love everything about this mare; she is clever, intelligent and loves the job. No doubt, she’s a talented young horse” says Suzy.

Her second turn-out was just as successful driving J.P., a Hanoverian gelding owned by Diane Ameter, was only to be defeated in dressage by Stafford’s mare by .2 of a point.

“J.P. came to me for training and I am ecstatic with his rapid progress,” says Stafford.

The pair went onto a double clean cones, winning their division.

“I am excited for Diane to take the reins at the next show and carry on a productive and successful season. J.P. truly wants to please and has a great work ethic. I am looking forward to watching the partnership grow between the two of them” says Stafford.

Stafford has a long season ahead of her with the goal of making the 2013 United States World Pony Driving Team with a pony named TTE Tea Time, a Morgan gelding owned by Trout Walk Farm. Worlds will be held in Pau, France, from November 1-4 this year.

“The selection trials start here in Florida. With the first one coming quick, it will be a long season for the ponies as the championship date is quite late this year, Stafford explains. “The key will be peaking myself and the pony at the appropriate times in the season.”


January 22, 2013

Suzy Stafford has been officially Long Listed with the United States Equestrian Federation in the Single Pony and Single Horse class. Read more > 

January 22, 2013

World Champion Driver Suzy Stafford guides two of her equine partners to the United States Equestrian Federation and Equus Foundation’s Horse Stars Hall Of Fame
Gold medalist Stafford made history in 2005 when she won the first individual gold medal in combined driving for the United States at the World Pony Driving Championships driving Cefnoakpark Bouncer, a Welsh cob owned by the Humphrey family. 

“It is such an honor for the USEF and Equus to acknowledge such a talented and special pony,” Stafford says. 

She has continued to medal at the World Championships in 2007, 2009 and most recently in 2011.

 “It is incredible to have one equine partner recognized in this way but when you have two ponies in the Hall of Fame - I was speechless!” Stafford says.     

Courage To Lead, a Morgan mare owned by Beverly Lesher, is now retired from competition after taking the driving world by storm with undefeated seasons and an individual bronze medal on her resume. 

“I had a long competition relationship with this mare and we went through many up and downs together, she will always be my “golden girl,” Stafford says.

The induction of the inaugural horses and the unveiling of the Horse Stars Hall of Fame website will take place at the Foundation's Fete Cheval Etoile on March 8, 2013 during the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida.

 “I cannot tell you how proud I am of these ponies and the enormous gratitude I feel towards the owners for letting me be a part of their success. It takes team work and dedication to make this possible,” Stafford says.

The Horse Stars Hall of Fame is a joint of the Equus Foundation and the United States Equestrian Foundation celebrating the extraordinary talent of horses and the magical bond between horses and people honoring the contributions of amazing horses. Sharing the stories of their athletic and humanitarian feats and building a more informed and compassionate America that values the impact of horses in our lives.
Photos by Linda Gallo


WINTER WORKING STUDENT POSITION - in Ocala, Fla., from January - April 2013

** Update - 12/3: This position has been filled. Please check back for future working student opportunities**

Currently seeking a self-motivated individual interested in learning more about the keys to successful training, competing, and caring for the pleasure and competition driving horse.This is a working student position in Florida from January through mid-April.

Position Criteria:
 Must be over 20 years old
 Minimum of one year driving experience
 Self-starter
 Must be available January 4 through mid-April, 2013
 Must have own transportation

This position includes housing for you and your equine. You have the opportunity to work side-by-side in all aspects of training with champion driver and trainer. Daily tutelage with your equine is included. Possibilities to compete with coaching.

If you do not wish to bring an equine reimbursement for work will be provided.

Download application here >
To be considered, application must be no later than December 1, 2012
November 10, 2012

Stafford comes home the Overall Advanced Champion at the Katydid Combined Driving Event
 
Suzy and her new partner TTE Tea Time, owned by Wendy O’Brien of Trout Walk Farm, brought home the Advanced Championship at the Katydid Combined Driving Event held in Windsor, SC.      She was thrilled with her performance at the Advanced level after a stellar performance in all three phases of the tough competition.

“This was his first showing at the advanced level. Even though I was a bit hesitant to move him up I thought he needed the exposure. Boy was I wrong, he was cool calm and competitive and proved to me that he has what it takes for the FEI stage. I was ecstatic with his performance!” Suzy said. “Trae” is a natural competitor, he knows when to “turn it on” and that is something you cannot train. They have to be born with it.”

“I have a great team of sponsors and a new owner who really supports me, both financially and through products,” she adds. “I appreciate all that my sponsors do for me. We are a team and I am so grateful for that.”

October 17, 2012

Breaking news:  Stafford Upgraded to Silver Medal for 2011 FEI World Driving Championships for Combined Ponies

Stafford represented the U.S. at the 2011 FEI World Driving Championships for Combined Ponies in Lipica, Slovenia held September 21-25, 2011. She drove her Morgan-Arabian Cross mare Josephine to an impressive finish in the cones phase and was awarded the Bronze medal in the Singles Pony Championship. Stafford has been notified by the FEI that the Swedish single pony driver Susanne Ankermark driving Windy Boy Rocket has been disqualified.  The results of the competition have been updated, now awarding Stafford and Josephine the Silver medal, adding to her already remarkable resume. Read more > 


August 26, 2012 

Stafford brings home a win at in the Intermediate Single Pony division at the Green Mountain Horse Association Combined Driving Event in South Woodstock, Vt. 

Suzy says has high hopes for her new equine partner “Trae,” an 8 year old Morgan gelding. “Trae is a natural competitor,” she says. “He knows when to turn it on and that is something you cannot train. They have to be born with it.” 

Trae was found by Stafford in Wisconsin and purchased for her by Wendy O’Brien of Trout Walk Farm in March of this year.

“When I saw and drove Trae for the first time I knew he had all the components I was looking for in an international quality pony,” explains Stafford. “He has three superb gaits, great character, and solid, correct conformation. He was as hairy as a buffalo and unfit from a year off, but through all that I could not believe his natural athletic ability and trainability.”

Wendy and Suzy have the same goal for Trae - both have their sights set on the 2013 World Pony Championships in Poe, France.

July 30, 2012 

World Champion Driver Suzy Stafford makes history again receiving the First Driving Sport Predicate Title in the United States with the Dutch Friesian mare Sjaantje
History was made again with Stafford holding the reins of 7-year-old Friesian mare named Sjaantje owned by Gail Aumiller of Dreams Come True Farm in Carlisle, Pa. Suzy has completed the qualifications and catapulted Sjaantje up the training scale in record time to receive the Driving Sport Predicate title. This is the first completion of this title to be held by any equine in the United States.

”It makes my job easier when the owner believed whole heartedly in Sjaantje and gave me all the tools I needed to prepare her for success. Gail is that owner and I am truly grateful for her trust in my program and support,” says Stafford. “Though the sport predicate was new territory for me the qualifications were not. I was very familiar with the driven dressage test to be performed. The mare has very good basics and I was able to move along quickly with some fitness and strength training. She has an outstanding temperament, solid conformation and unbelievable trainability.” 

Stafford’s talent for bringing along young horses and ponies up through the International level has been proven time and time again. Her laid back yet fiercely competitive nature is a winning combination. 

“Sjaantje’s future will continue with her owner at the reins this coming year. I look forward to guiding Gail with this lovely mare on these competitive adventures,” says Stafford. “Gail has great things planned. I will take up her reins and do two things I have not yet had the opportunity to do: enter a training level CDE and drive a musical freestyle.”

“I should be making plans to breed her next year, but we are having so much fun and success in the carriage driving world, I don't want to stop, so perhaps we'll try embryo transplant. Our World and National Championships return again to the east coast next year, so that will be tempting,” says Aumiller.
 
This trio is no stranger to the winners circle. In 2011 Sjaantje and Aumiller won the World/ National Amateur Driving Championships at the FHANA World and National Championship show. Stafford and Sjaanje also took home the World Championship title in the Open Driving Championship.
Stafford now has her sights on a new goal, competing at the 2013 World Pony Championships in Poa, France with her new partner TTE Tea Time. This 8-year-old Morgan gelding was purchased for Stafford in March by Trout Walk Farm.

“‘Trae’ is intelligent and kind, always giving 100 percent. He has a super work ethic with a knack for showing off in the ring. His presence and good looks are hard to miss! In June 2012 Trae completed his first CDE proving he is ‘all in’ and loves his new job,” says Stafford.
    
“I have a great team of sponsors who really support me, both financially and through products,” Stafford said. “I appreciate all that my sponsors do for me. We are a team and I am so grateful for that.”

June 23, 2012
Champion Driver Suzy Stafford and her young Morgan mare PVF Peace of Mind (Statesman Signature X JPR Have Mercy) trot home with the Single Horse Championship at the Susquehanna Pleasure Driving Show in Hughsville, Pa.

Suzy and PVF Peace of Mind, or “Hunny” as she is known to her closest friends, took home the blue in the working class and then on to the obstacle class, securing the Single Horse Championship.

“Hunny is the most settled young horse I have ever worked with,” Stafford said. “She is five years old, but she goes into the arena as if she has been doing this for years. I am really looking forward to her progress as she develops and gets stronger.” 

Suzy and Hunny are ready to move up the levels on the combined driving circuit later this fall. Stafford has proven over the years that she has the ability to find and develop young driving horses, driving them into the winner’s circle at national and international events.

“I am excited about Hunny because she is a lovely mover with great character, a good mind, and correct conformation,” Stafford said. “My goal with Hunny is to move her up through the levels of Combined Driving with plans for the international stage!”

Photo credit: Jessica Strock

June 2012

TTE Tea Time completes his first CDE winning the Best Dressage score of the entire show


"Trae" came to Suzy in March and has settled into his new home and new job like a true Champ! Trae competed at Elk Creek CDE at the preliminary level showing he has what it take to be a CDE pony. Winning the dressage phase by more than 20 points and double clear in cones gave for a nice relaxing marathon drive. 

Suzy used this first show as an educational event for Trae as he has never seen hazards nor a water obstacle. He was willing and obedient and did all that was asked of him. The future will be exciting with him and Suzy is looking forward to their adventures together! 

Congrats to Wendy O'Brien on her pony's success!



Sjaantje competed at the Elk Creek CDE with the goal of receiving her Driving Sport Predicate Title for the Dutch Friesian Registry

"SJ" was a superstar in her first attempt at the FEI #9 dressage test receiving 3 points (71%) towards the 10 needed for this award.
This is a stellar score at her first attempt at this level in competition. Congrats to Gail AuMiller, owner of this magnificent mare!








March 4, 2012 

Champion Driver Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace of Mind Take Home The Win at the 2012 Little Everglades International Combined Driving Event

Stafford has started 2012 with a promising future with her young Morgan horse, PVF Peace of Mind, or “Hunny” as she is known by her closest friends. Stafford and Hunny finished dressage at the top of the leader board at the Little Everglades Combined Driving Event, earning the best dressage score in their division.

“Hunny is the most settled young horse I have ever worked with,” Stafford said. “She is five years old, but she goes into the arena as if she has been doing this for years. I am really looking forward to her progress as she develops and gets stronger.” 

Stafford and Hunny held onto their lead through the marathon and cones day. The pair put in a double clear round being one of the few and far between. Stafford recalls “The course was very technical with many challenging turns and a time that was hard to make.       

Stafford has proven over the years that she has the ability to find and develop young driving horses, driving them into the winner’s circle at national and international events. “I am excited about Hunny because she is a lovely mover with great character, a good mind and correct conformation,” Stafford said. “My goal with Hunny is to move her up through the levels of Combined Driving with plans for the international stage!”
December 27, 2011

Just posted! Suzy’s 2012 competition and clinic schedule can now be viewed here >

October 19, 2011

Suzy Stafford and Sjaantje Take Home National Championship Title at the 2011 International Friesian Show Horse Association World & Grand National

Suzy drove Sjaantje, a 6-year-old Friesian mare, to the National Championship in the Friesian Carriage Pleasure Driving Open division at the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) World and Grand National. The mare’s owner, Gail AuMiller of Dreams Come True Farm in Carlisle, Pa., drove Sjaantje to top honors in the Amateur Carriage Pleasure Driving division and the pair also took the Reinsmanship Championship. 
This year’s carriage driving classes were the largest driving classes to date at the Friesian National Championships, and Sjaantje, also known as “SJ,” proved her mettle by earning top placement while showing against some of the top members of her breed.
 
“I have been training “SJ” and Gail since the spring, and I am so proud of both of them,” said Stafford. “The mare is kind, talented, and has great instincts. There is nothing quite like a mare’s intuition and this girl has it in spades! It was a pleasure driving such a high quality animal with a temperament to match.”


September 28, 2011

Suzy and Josephine bring home the Individual Bronze medal for the United States in the World Pony Driving Championships

10-17-12 UPDATE:  Stafford Upgraded to Silver Medal for 2011 FEI World Driving Championships for Combined Ponies Details> 
“Josie was awesome in the dressage - she was the best she has ever been,“ Suzy says. “I couldn’t believe it when we went in the ring. She knew it was a big deal and acted like she owned the stage!  She showed off like a true pro. We had one mistake at the end of the dressage test that lowered our score a bit, but I could not be happier with how much Josie tried for me! These are the moments that remind me why I have made horses my way of life. Sometimes its not about winning, its about the partnership.”
 
They went on to move up to fourth after the marathon followed by a precise and fast cones round that put them in third, securing the individual bronze medal.

“Josie’s strength and character overshadowed her lack of experience in the marathon,” Suzy explains.  “The course required a lot of horse strength and speed. I still find it amazing how powerful this little horse is!”
 
The team behind Stafford played a major part in her success; from her sponsors to her grooms, bringing in a medal at a World Championship venue takes the support of an entire team.

“I had a great group of people with me at the show,” she points out. “Larry Hart, my navigator kept all four wheels on the ground during the fast paced marathon course and his wife, Meredith Fetters, helped me secure the bronze medal by riding on the back of the carriage during the cones.”


July 5, 2011

Courage to Lead, Suzy’s past long-term competition partner has given birth to a chestnut filly named "Libby." In the photo above she is a little over 24 hours old.

The sire is the dressage Morgan stallion Statesman Signature owned by Martha Reynolds. Bev Lesher, Katy's owner, is thrilled with her new baby. Libby is inquisitive, intelligent and extremely athletic.  She looks to have all the making of a winner!

2017 World Championships...here we come!






June 23, 2011

Suzy and her registered half-Arabian mare Miss Josephine are long-listed to participate in the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Slovenia, but before they make their international journey they will need a little help from their friends. That help will come in the form of a benefit dinner and silent auction during a three-day clinic taught by Stafford at Camelot Hills Farm in Dover Foxcroft, Maine, owned by Dan and Beth Steinke, with the proceeds to help Stafford and Miss Josephine with their goal of competing in Slovenia. 

The clinic will take place July 29 – 31 at Camelot Hills Farm, with the benefit dinner and silent auction taking place Saturday night during the event. The dinner is $25 per person and will include a good old-fashioned dinner of chicken pie, mashed potatoes, squash, homemade rolls, ham, drink and dessert.

Stafford will also take part in a Question and Answer session during the dinner, which will include a DVD presentation of her previous competitions. 

Suzy says the benefit dinner and silent auction will be a great help, as the cost of an international trip is extremely expensive. “I am seeking financial support from my friends, family, clients, sponsors and driving enthusiasts because the total trip is over $40,000,” she says. “That includes roundtrip airfare for Josie and the freight cost for two carriages and equipment.”

The cost to audit the clinic is $15 per day or $25 for three days. For more information on the clinic, contact organizer Beth Steinke at 1-207-564-3347 or 1-207-266-4675. Or email Steinke at lonaskye@aol.com. Donations can also be made directly through this site here >
June 14, 2011

Suzy and her young equine partner PVF Peace of Mind, showed the driving world that age is only a number during the Brandywine Carriage Driving Show. At only four years of age, and at her first recognized driving show, Peace of Mind, or Hunny, drove away with the Single Horse Championship, the High Point Morgan Horse award and won the American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) High Point Trophy.

“Hunny is the most settled young horse I have ever worked with,” Stafford said. “She is only four years old, but she arrives on the show grounds as if she has been doing this for years. I am really looking forward to her progress as she develops and gets stronger.”

Stafford, who has been long-listed for the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships with her registered half Arabian mare Miss Josephine, said a sponsor purchased Hunny for her in the spring of 2010 from Deborah Keiffer of Parlor View Farm in New York. “I had been looking for a quality young horse to bring along and Hunny had all of the attributes I was looking for,” Stafford said.

Stafford has proven over the years that she has the ability to find and develop young driving horses, driving them into the winner’s circle at national and international events. “I am excited about Hunny because she is a lovely mover with great character, a good mind and correct conformation,” Stafford said. “My goal with Hunny is to move her up through the levels of Combined Driving and see how far it takes us!”

June 10, 2011

Suzy competed at the Elk Creek CDE, held at Fair Hill in Maryland, with the hopes of perfecting the training and skills of two of her talented ponies. She was pleased with the progress of each of her equine partners including her registered half-Arabian mare, Miss Josephine, who is long-listed for the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Europe.

“I wanted to use Elk Creek as a schooling event to prepare Josephine for her European debut at the World Pony Championships, which will be held in Slovenia in September,” Stafford said. “I was just schooling Josie so I didn't finished the marathon, but she won the best dressage and cones in the advanced division. Josie is in a good place right now in her training program and we are improving our dressage score every time out.”

Stafford said her goal is to not have Josie peak too early, as she wants the pony’s ultimate performance to be in September. While Josephine will make her debut at the World Pony Driving Championships, Stafford is a veteran of the championships and in 2005 won an Individual Gold Medal with Cefnoakpark Bouncer, a Team Bronze with Bouncer in 2007 and an Individual Bronze with Courage To Lead in 2009. “My goal for the 2011 World Pony Driving Championships is to win medals and represent the United States to the best of our ability,” Stafford said.

Stafford also competed PVF Peace of Mind, known as Hunny around the barn, at Elk Creek and said the four-year-old Morgan acted liked she had “been there and done that.” “For such a young horse, Hunny was awesome,” Stafford said. “She won the dressage with a very low score of 35, which I thought was very exciting. I took my time with her on the marathon as it is a lot to ask of a four-year-old, but she still ended up second in the class due to time penalties.”

May 16, 2011

Suzy drove Olivia, a Welsh pony mare owned by Kate Ross,  in the My Lady's Manor Pleasure Show on May 15. This was Olivia's first recognized show and she placed first in four of her classes! Olivia is for sale - find out more about her here >
 
Additionally, Suzy and Josephine have been chosen as one of three single pony drivers to be added to the USEF long list. For more info visit the USEF web site.
 




Coming up: May 28 - Suzy will be judging Brandywine Valley Driving Club’s Continuous Day of Driving at Canvasback Farm in Port Deposit, Md.
 
June 4-5 - Suzy will be competing at the Elk Creek CDE on with her new morgan, Peace of Mind.

She will also be taking Josie, her potential World Championship partner to the Elk Creek CDE, and will be using this venue as a schooling event to prepare them for Josie's European debut at the World Pony Championship, which will be held in Slovenia in September.
 
June 12 - Suzy will be showing Peace of Mind at the Brandywine Carriage Driving Show in Fair Hill, Md. This will be "Hunny's" fist recognized show.

Apr. 4, 2011

Suzy and Josie have won the Florida Triple Crown of driving!

Points were awarded for placings at each Florida competition for the Florida Triple Crown of Driving, which includes the Little Everglades CDE, the Sunshine State CAI, and the Live Oak International. Triple Crown Awards were presented at the Live Oak International, which ran March 24-27 in Ocala, Fla.

Suzy and Josie were crowned reserve National Champions at the Live Oak International CDE. This was Josie and Suzy's third show at this level.
 

Mar. 13, 2011

Check out this great profile on Suzy in the February 2011 issue of Salt Block Gazette! Here’s the profile >
And here’s the complete issue featuring Suzy on the cover >

Mar. 4, 2011

Josie has returned from Florida where she competed in two of the selection trials to vie for her slot on the 2011 World Pony Championship Team, which will compete in Slovania in September. She placed second in both shows, winning the dressage and marathon in her first advanced-level competition of her career. Josie is coming along as hoped and is now training to compete at the National Championships, which will be held at Live Oak International on March 24-26 in Ocala, Florida.


Jan. 8, 2011

Interested in long lining and ground driving?  Registration is now open for Suzy’s three-part progressive clinic, to be held on Wednesdays, Feb. 2, March 9, and April 6 at Courage to Lead Farm in Windsor, SC. Download more information here (PDF) >

News Archives > 
Dec 23, 2010 

Photos are now up from the Katydid CDE in Aiken, South Carolina. Suzy competed "Roz" and "Josie" in the Intermediate divisions. View them here >

Nov. 5-7, 2010 

Suzy will be competing at the Katydid CDE in Aiken, South Carolina with "Roz" and "Josie" in the Intermediate divisions. Stafford Carriage Driving is also proud to sponsor special awards at the show to the overall champion of each class, as well as the best marathon score in each division. For more info on the show visit: www.katydidfarm.com

Sept. 10-12, 2010

Suzy Stafford won the Intermediate Single Pony Division at the Laurels at Landhope CDE International with Josie! She also put in a fantastic showing with Roxy in the Intermediate Single Horse Division as Hors Concours. Check out the photos here or view the results here (PDF).

Sept. 8, 2010

Check out the photos from our Open Barn event! Thanks so much to everyone who made it out and and celebrated a beautiful evening on the farm!

Feb. 5, 2010
The Chronicle's Driving Horseman Of The Year: Suzy Stafford

Dec. 11, 2009
USEF Announces 2009 Equestrians of Honor

Nov. 9, 2009
Video: 2009 Kentucky Cup Driving - Suzy Stafford, USEF Combined National Driving Single Pony Champion

Sept. 11, 2009
Stafford Stands Out At FEI World Combined Pony Driving Championships - She brings home the only U.S. medal—a bronze—as Germany sweeps the gold medals.

Aug. 27, 2009
Bronze Medal for Team USA’s Suzy Stafford - Fourth Place for Team USA at the FEI World Pony Driving Championships2014_Letter.html2014_Letter.htmlhttps://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-hunny-and-suzy-get-to-the-2014-world-championshipshttp://www.dressagesportboot.com/mailto:ponydriverss@aol.commailto:laurie@touchofclassinc.commailto:polshanb@earthlink.netmailto:ponydriverss@aol.comhttp://drivingradioshow.horseradionetwork.com/2014/03/26/driving-radio-show-episode-142-suzy-stafford-on-her-win-live-oak-wrap-and-pleasure-days/For_Sale.htmlhttp://www.dressagedaily.com/article/visit-world-champion-pony-driver-suzy-staffordhttp://www.horseshow.com/coaching/suzy-staffordhttp://www.horsesdaily.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=5400%3Ausef-announces-2013-usef-driver-training-long-list&Itemid=1530http://www.equusfoundation.org/fete-cheval.phphttp://dl.dropbox.com/u/47660122/stafford_working_student_app.pdfhttp://www.usefnetwork.com/news/9288/2012/10/17/suzy_stafford_upgraded_to_silver_me.aspxSchedule.htmlhttp://www.usefnetwork.com/news/9288/2012/10/17/suzy_stafford_upgraded_to_silver_me.aspxmailto:lonaskye@aol.comDonate.htmlPhoto_Albums/Pages/BVDC_Show_2011.htmlPhoto_Albums/Pages/BVDC_Show_2011.htmlPhoto_Albums/Pages/BVDC_Show_2011.htmlhttp://www.elkcreekcde.com/elkcreekcde/Home.htmlhttp://www.mlmdc.org/shows.htmhttp://www.mlmdc.org/shows.htmFor_Sale.htmlhttp://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsDisciplines/discipline/alldriving.aspxhttp://www.bvdc.org/bvdc_home.htmlhttp://www.bvdc.org/bvdc_home.htmlhttp://www.cailiveoak.com/http://www.saltblockgazette.com/content/stafford-carriage-drivinghttp://www.saltblockgazette.com/content/stafford-carriage-drivinghttp://www.equinejournal.com/FlipbookIssues/February2011SBG/http://staffordcarriagedriving.com/Stafford/events/2011_grd_drive_clinic.pdfPhoto_Albums/Pages/Katydid_CDE_2010.htmlhttp://www.katydidfarm.com/http://www.laurelscde.orghttp://www.laurelscde.orgPhoto_Albums/Pages/Laurels_2010.htmlhttp://www.laurelscde.org/PDFs/LL10-Final.pdfPhoto_Albums/Pages/Open_Barn_-_Sept_2010.htmlhttp://www.chronofhorse.com/article/chronicles-driving-horseman-year-suzy-staffordhttp://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5175http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxYc21wgvNMhttp://www.chronofhorse.com/article/stafford-stands-out-fei-world-combined-pony-driving-championshipshttp://equestrian.teamusa.org/news/article/15446https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-hunny-and-suzy-get-to-the-2014-world-championshipshttp://www.dressagesportboot.comshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2shapeimage_2_link_3shapeimage_2_link_4shapeimage_2_link_5shapeimage_2_link_6shapeimage_2_link_7shapeimage_2_link_8shapeimage_2_link_9shapeimage_2_link_10shapeimage_2_link_11shapeimage_2_link_12shapeimage_2_link_13shapeimage_2_link_14shapeimage_2_link_15shapeimage_2_link_16shapeimage_2_link_17shapeimage_2_link_18shapeimage_2_link_19shapeimage_2_link_20shapeimage_2_link_21shapeimage_2_link_22shapeimage_2_link_23shapeimage_2_link_24shapeimage_2_link_25shapeimage_2_link_26shapeimage_2_link_27shapeimage_2_link_28shapeimage_2_link_29shapeimage_2_link_30shapeimage_2_link_31shapeimage_2_link_32shapeimage_2_link_33shapeimage_2_link_34shapeimage_2_link_35shapeimage_2_link_36shapeimage_2_link_37shapeimage_2_link_38shapeimage_2_link_39shapeimage_2_link_40shapeimage_2_link_41shapeimage_2_link_42shapeimage_2_link_43shapeimage_2_link_44shapeimage_2_link_45shapeimage_2_link_46shapeimage_2_link_47

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