Closing ceremonies and heading home

by USDFD on September 4, 2012


Sunday came and went so quickly! Coach Keady headed out to the barn @ 6 to braid the horses then cones were open for walking from 8-9 am for the para drivers, then closed to any vehicles for the last 30 minutes for the 4 in hands. The athletes headed out to learn the course while the support crew, Bill & Kelly Gorham, Patty Doyle, Josh Rector, Emily Bassett and Jody Cutler made the horses & carriages sparkling clean.

The course was challenging with many related cones including a 2 serpentines separated by a very tight left hand turn. Time was also aggressive. Team USA had some great moments and held their 4 th place in the team standings & individual placings of 13 th for Diane & 19th for Pam. Karen had retired on marathon but was allowed to drive cones.

It was an exciting finish for the individual medal. Heiner Lehrter of Germany, in second place by less than a ball posted a double clear putting the pressure on Jacque Poppen of the Netherlands. A heartbreaking ball down @ cone 10 dropped Jacque to the silver giving Heiner the Indv gold. Points were frantically tallied to reveal the Netherlands the team gold winner with Germany in a close 2nd followed by Great Britain.

All 21 competitors entered the ring with horses and lined up for the awards & closing ceremonies & were thanked by the organizing committee of outdoor Brabant & the FEI for participating in the 2012 Para driving championships. The games were officially closed and team USA headed back to the barn to pack for the long trip home. Diane’s leased horse Ruby had been sold to England the week prior so was bathed and loaded on to a van with a cute pony team. Diane gave her a kiss good bye and Ruby was off on her 2 day trip to the UK & her new life as a single horse. All the borrowed harness & carriages were cleaned and loaded & while Night & Solo snacked in the barn, the American chapter of the Koos de Ronde fan club went down to the ring to watch cones. Sitting in 4 th place, Koos posted the only double clear round to win the cones phase, which moved him up to 3 rd place individually. Ybrand Chardon held onto his 1st place over Theo Timmerman. Obviously the Netherlands won the team gold followed by Germany & Sweden.

The Outdoor Brabant has a special award for the best combined score for the para drivers and the horse 4s which was awarded to Jacque Poppen & Ysbrand Chardon. Jacque climbed out of his wheel chair ( he was paralyzed in a car accident many years prior) and up into Ysbrand’s dressage break and they entered the ring together for their trophies. It was an inspiring moment that was met by a standing ovation.

The celebrations continued back in camp de Ronde during the last of the packing. Diane strapped all her gear to her carriage and many thanks to Gerard Paagman who will be shipping it all home for her. Koos shared his many prizes for the weekend with the team members, Karen Gorham, Pam Johnson, Diane Kastama & coach Keady, who all received a horse cooler. I was honored with the champagne he won on Saturday night. We immediately popped it open & Marie lead a toast to old friends & new !

We all headed back to the hotel & tired but happy. Everyone’s muddy horse show clothes were jammed back into suitcases for the journey home. Although the team results were not as great as we had hoped, some great ideas for the future have been planned. With the new leadership & focus of the USDFD, their programs will expand to encourage & assist more para drivers around the country, raise awareness of the opportunities available & educate non para drivers about the programs & how they can be a part of team USA !

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