DEVON, Pa. — Drivers came from near and far to trot their horses around the Dixon Oval in the Devon Horse Show’s driving classes.
From near, PJ Crowley, of Zionsville, Pa. accumulated the most points in the Single Horse Pleasure Driving Turnout and the Single Horse Scurry.
Reserve champion was captured by Steve Wilson in his Brewster County Gig carriage.
Crowley competed with the 11-year-old Friesian gelding, Willem, in a Gentleman’s Pheaton carriage that was restored by his father, Pat Crowley, Jr. a decade earlier. The elder Crowley has won several awards for his restoration projects.
Willem secured the tricolor champion ribbon of the evening after placing first in the Single Horse Pleasure Driving Turnout and the Single Horse Scurry with a speedy time of 75.292 seconds.
PJ Crowley’s wife, Tara Crowley said of Willem, “He is an 11-year-old Friesian that we imported from Holland for our customers James and Kathleen Leo of Rochester, N.Y. He came over here when he was a year and a half old. He has been in the four-in-hand, tandem, driven dressage and ridden dressage. He kind of does everything and is a really special guy. We started showing him when he was 4 years old and so this is his seventh year showing with us. He was here two years ago and was reserve champion. We’re extremely proud of how he was back in the ring today. He is a super guy.”
PJ Crowley and the Friesian gelding have a long history of showing together and are familiar with success at the Devon Horse Show after winning reserve champion in 2016.
“This show is such a tradition for us. PJ, my husband, has shown here since he was 8 years old and it’s just one of those shows that is such a staple for us. Being such an historic show itself, and then so many of our customers have such a history of showing here, it’s really important to us. We have one customer who has been a part of Devon for 64 years. It always fun to come here, be a part of its history and have our friends and family come to watch.”
On Memorial Day, Steve Wilson and his two grey Dutch Warmbloods received top honors in the Horse Pairs Championship after accumulating the most points throughout the competition a day earlier.
“My task with my horses is that they are pretty hot. The judge told me after the first class if I had been able to make them walk, we would have won that class. They are very hot and so sometimes they prance a little bit. In the second class, the scurry, we are fairly used to cones from combined driving, but not with an antique carriage that has no breaks. We hit cone number ten so we got a ten point penalty, but then we galloped to the finish so we ended with a 95 second score. It was very exciting,” Wilson said.
Wilson acquired the two Dutch Warmbloods in Hungary and the team has proven to be very successful, having won two consecutive US Equestrian Pair Horse Driving National Championship titles in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, Wilson and his horses were selected to represent the United States in the 2017 FEI World Driving Championship Competition for Pairs in Lipica, Slovenia.
“I’ve never been to Devon before. I have a lot of neighbors back home in Kentucky who have been here and they talk a lot about how much fun it is and how great the tradition is here. This has been a unique and wonderful experience for us here. I had participated in a coach drive at Windsor and a friend of mine told me that Devon is the ‘Windsor of America,’ so that was very enticing and why we decided it was worth it to come all the way from Kentucky.”
Later, the evening’s events shifted its attention to the ponies, where Nichole Jansen entered the winner’s circle to earn the Single/Pair Pony Driving championship with her Kutzmann Spider Lite carriage.
Jansen and her Fell pony stallion, Littletree Limited Edition, have had a successful year together including winning the prestigious Edinburgh Prize for Driving, which is presented by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. The pair earned the champion ribbon at Devon by taking home first place in the Single/Pair Pony Pleasure Turnout and fourth place in the Single/Pair Pony Scurry.
“His name is Littletree Limited Edition and we call him Vern. We imported him from England last year. He got broke to drive last February and he was so great that we showed here at Devon in May and we got third place. It was so amazing. We were also fortunate enough together to be the first American to win the Duke of Edinburgh prize from Prince Philip this past season for driving achievements. We have just had the most amazing year with him. He is a stallion, but my little girl can still ride him at home. He is so versatile. We just started doing mounted shooting for fun. He rides, he drives, he loads — we can take him anywhere. He has such a great personality and we just wanted everyone to have Fell Ponies. We are working hard to promote the breed because they are just amazing, ” Jansen said.
“It’s such a big honor to come to Devon. When I got into carriage driving I would always ask what the big shows were and everyone always said that Devon is just the most prestigious and so fun. When we came last year, the crowds just went wild over [Vern]. It’s just so nice to have a horse show that is so welcoming to us. It’s been crazy awesome to be here. We will definitely be back here next year too, it’s so worth the drive from Florida for us,” Jansen said.
The Four-in-Hand Coaching division was also a featured event in the Memorial Day evening session, with Misdee Wrigley Miller of Paris, Ky. taking home the blue.
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