Izsak, Hungary (October 7, 2014) – Each time that it seems Chester Weber has reached the height of accomplishment in the driving discipline, he and his team find a way to step even higher. This September, Weber served as the esteemed Chef d’Equipe for the United States Team at the 2014 FEI World Driving Championships for Singles while his apprentice Jacob Arnold drove Hotspur’s Red Rowl put in an impressive debut World Championship performance.
Ranked number one in the world in the FEI Top Driver Award Standings for Four-in-Hand, three-time World Equestrian Games Individual Silver Medalist Chester Weber was the obvious choice to be Chef d’Equipe for the 2014 FEI World Driving Championships for Singles. The driving competition took place on September 23-28, 2014 in Izsak, Hungary. The United States’s best singles drivers vied against global talent during the week of competition.
Weber was proud of the United States’s performance, including the success of Live Oak driver apprentice Jacob Arnold of Ocala, Florida. For Arnold, the 2011 USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year, working with Chester Weber is the ideal next step as a rising star in driving. “I owe a big thank you to Chester Weber, who came up with this idea, and has gone above and beyond to make this a reality,” Arnold stated. Weber, who recently began his Live Oak Driver Apprentice Program to assist promising drivers in furthering their skills, is honored to have Arnold as his first apprentice.
Arnold proved his own talent and the successfulness of Weber’s training at the 2014 FEI World Driving Championships for Singles, where he drove Karen Chandor and John Merritt’s ten-year-old Morgan gelding, Hotspur’s Red Rowl (“Rowley”), with eye-catching technique and accuracy. The pair’s first ever drive together was just 2 short months ago at a competition in Piber, Austria where they won the marathon and placed fourth overall. With Weber’s counsel the relationship only grew from there; Arnold, with the help of veteran Team Weber navigator Jaroslav (Jerry) Mamula, piloted Rowley to an impressive win the marathon phase at the World Championships, making history as the first US combination to ever win the marathon phase in a World Championship competition. He kept up this rhythm in the cones, and was one of only seven competitors to complete a clear round in that phase on Sunday.
“As a Morgan, Rowley has the biggest heart of any horse I have every encountered,” said Arnold. “His abilities on the marathon course are really something special, I truly do believe this horse is unique in that aspect. His acceleration and balance are extraordinarty, and he proved his talent once again at the World Championships.”
It was by chance that Arnold and Hotspur’s Red Rowl first became a team. Cheryl Pratt Rivers developed Rowley up through the levels and they had traveled to Europe in hopes of earning a spot on the team for the World Championships when an injury sidelined her from competition. Arnold stepped up into the drivers seat and hit it off right away with Rowley.
“They then competed together in two events and were ultimately selected for the US team,” Chandor said, also commenting on how competitive driving is in Hotspur’s Red Rowl’s blood. “Rowley’s sire, Book’s End Trademark, was a reserve world champion Morgan pleasure driving horse bred in the Midwest.”
Chandor and Merritt were thrilled with how well Arnold worked with their Morgan at the Championships. “We were quite excited about finishing the three day event 7th in overall standing,” Chandor smiled. “We were especially pleased with the coordination shown between horse, driver, and navigator in the marathon event. To win the Marathon and then to discover we were the first U.S. single horse competitor to win a marathon at a World Championship thrilled us beyond belief! Congratulations should go to all those involved in putting together the 8th FEI World Driving Championship for Singles in Izsak, Hungary, as the facilities and events were exceptional.”
Arnold’s success can also be contributed to the support of his generous sponsor Iron Spring Farm, which has partnered him with exceptional horses including Wise Guy, a bay gelding by Sir Sinclair ISF. Wooper, as the gelding is known around the barn, was trained and driven by Ijsbrand Chardon as part of his 2010 Individual Silver and Team Gold medal winning team before coming to Arnold as an FEI single prospect early in 2014. Iron Spring also connected Arnold with Tara 14, a mare owned by Belle Grey Farm and previously driven by Rachel Blanchard who represented the US last year at the Pair World Championships. With such high caliber horses in harness and under the tutelage of Chester Weber, Michael Freund, and Thorsten Zarembowiecz, Arnold gained the experience to be able to succesfully take Rowley’s reins and demonstrate his prowess as a driver on the world’s stage.
To learn more about Chester Weber and Live Oak Combined Driving, visit www.chesterweber.com and follow him on Facebook.