by Jessica Schroeder, USTA Outreach & Membership Enrichment Coordinator
Columbus, OH — The winner of the inaugural HDT/CDE USTA Award, given to those that participate in sanctioned American Driving Society events, is Chuck McGrath and Muskiemar I.
The pair competed in four events in their first year together and had two wins and one fourth in the Training Horse Single division as well as one second in a Preliminary Horse Single division. They traveled across many state lines as they competed in Kentucky, Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma.
Combined Driving Events and Horse Driving Trials require a horse/driver combination to compete in three events — dressage, cones and marathon.
Dressage is about the finesse a horse has to complete a regulated set of movements, while a marathon is a cross-country event with hazards; the cones event is an obstacle driving course, where the obstacles are only inches wider than the carriage wheels.
The primary difference between a CDE and a HDT is the former is contested over three days while an HDT is a shorter, one day event. There are three levels of the HDT and CDE that are eligible for the USTA Award: Training (introductory level), Preliminary and Intermediate.
Muskiemar I is a 15-year-old by Swiss Connection out of the Cooper Lobell mare Willamar I who raced for seven years on the Wisconsin fair and Illinois pari-mutuel circuits. He earned $25,048 and took a lifetime mark of 2:01 as a 5-year-old at Balmoral Park in 2003. McGrath adopted Muskiemar I from Racer Placers Inc. and their first driving event was the October 2012 National Drive at the Kentucky Horse Park.
As the inaugural winner, McGrath and Muskie received a fitted fly sheet and a $150 credit for further training with the instructor of their choice. This winter, the pair will be heading from their home base of Oklahoma to Florida for additional training, including adding a member to their team, another 15-year-old, Cmebatrotter.
Within five years Muskiemar I and Cmebatrotter raced against each other 24 times, but now it will be time for them to work together as they aim to compete as a driving pair during the 2014 show season.
To qualify for the HDT/CDE USTA Award, drivers must be a member of ADS and drive their Standardbred in at least two shows during the show season (Dec. 1–Nov. 30). To learn more about driving a Standardbred competitively, visit www.AmericanDrivingSociety.org.
Since 1996, the Standardbred Equine Program has worked with off-the-track Standardbreds and their owners to educate the general public about the many disciplines at which Standardbreds excel once they are retired from racing. For more information about the SEP at the USTA, visit LifeAfterRacing.ustrotting.com, or send e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.