Gladstone, N.J., Oct. 3, 2005 -- Taking a year off from competing doesn't work for everyone, but it paid off for Scott Monroe of Sharon, Conn., who drove his way to his first national championship at the 2005 USEF National Combined Driving Singles Championship, part of the CAI-B Gladstone Driving Event, September 22-25.
Driving his 11-year-old Morgan gelding, Bethesda After Dark (Shadow), Monroe bested a field of 12 single horses with a smooth dressage test; a precise, blistering trip through the eight obstacles on the marathon course and a double-clean round in cones.
The last to take to the course on September 25, Monroe almost lost all when he started to pass the 13th set of cones. Realizing his mistake, he turned his horse in a tight right half-circle, then turned left and coasted through. Shadow's ground-covering stride provided the speed to finish the remainder of the course within the time allowed.
Reserve champion was Sterling Graburn of Vernon, Fla., driving Alexander Hewitt's gray Belgian Warmblood, Quincy.
Monroe purchased Shadow as a three-year-old, and he is only his second horse.
"I told a friend what I was looking for in a horse, and he said, 'That horse is for sale in Massachusetts,'" said Monroe. Once Monroe saw the horse, the decision was made. "Neither one of us knew much," continued Monroe. "Friends said if he didn't kill me, he'd make a good horse."
Monroe sought the help of Margaret Beeman, a riding instructor who was recommended to him, and the three have been working together ever since. Beeman is a vital part of the team, riding with Monroe in competition as his groom/navigator (read EquiSearch Exclusive: Beeman on Training).
Moving into the advanced ranks in 2001, Monroe just missed a spot on the American singles team in 2002, but drove at the World Championship in Sweden in 2004, turning in the best total score of the American team and finishing in 12th place individually.
Read the story of how Beeman and Monroe trained Shadow to Advanced-Level combined driving in the April 2004 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.