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Equestrian Canada – Canadian drivers have kept busy over the summer, racking up wins across the globe. Read on to learn more about their successes!

Kelly Houtappels-Bruder Keeps Winning Tradition Alive
Top Canadian driver, Kelly Houtappels-Bruder of Steensel, NED, has maintained her winning ways throughout the 2019 season. She began her run in Keispelt, LUX, where she topped the CAI 3*-H1 leaderboard from May 23-26 with her long-time partner, Flip (Fidertanz x Carprilli), an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding that she co-owns with Frank Houtappels. Kelly and the dark bay brilliantly navigated the combined driving event (CDE), winning both the dressage phase with a score of 52.62, as well as the final standings on a score of 137.01.

Kelly notched a second win at Keispelt in the CAI-YH1 6yo division. She drove Frank Houtappel’s six-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Ibelllo (Manno x Waterman), to a score of 6.44 in the dressage and cones phase for the bay gelding’s FEI debut on May 23.

After an unfortunate technical elimination at the Le Pin au Haras CAI 3*-H1 competition in France in July, Kelly and Flip set out for redemption at the CAI 3*-H1 CDE in Písečné nad Dyjí, CZE, held from Aug. 30-Sept. 1. There, they held onto first place throughout all three days of competition, leading the pack with a dressage score of 45.19 and a marathon total of 91.63, adding up to a final score of 136.82 after a double-clear cones phase.

“Písečné was a physically heavy competition and Flip attacked the course without blinking an eye,” said Kelly, who currently sits eighth in the FEI Top Driver Award Standings for Singles. “We recorded a new personal best score in the dressage, as well a double-clear cones, so we came home very, very happy. The competition in Písečné was stronger than in Keispelt, too, with the current world champion, Bartlomiej Kwiatek (POL) and a number of other top FEI ranked drivers competing there. This definitely made up for the course mistake we made in Le Pin au Haras last month, which ended up costing us a second place finish there.”


Kelly Houtappels-Bruder of Steensel, NED, and Flip have had an extremely successful summer 2019 season, and are currently sitting eighth in the FEI Top Driver Award Standings for Singles.
Photo Credit: Foto Šárka

Kelly continued, “We started our show season quite late this year, as it extends quite late with the CAI 4* in Pau, FRA, being held the end of October. It was very important for us that we keep the season manageable so that we are not burned out by the time we have to head there, which will be the dress rehearsal for the World Championships next year. So far, that looks to be working out really well, as we really had the feeling the Flip was hitting his stride this week and is fitter than ever.”

François Bergeron and Sarah Steenbeek Win Titles at American Driving Society North American Championships
The 2019 American Driving Society (ADS) North American Championships were held June 21-23 in conjunction with the Metamora Combined Driving Event. Two Canadians left their marks on Windrush Farm in Metamora, MI, leaving the competition as proud new owners of championship titles.

François Bergeron of Ormstown, QC, emerged victorious from an extremely competitive field of drivers across the very small equine, pony, horse, single, pair and four-in-hand divisions to claim the title of overall ADS Preliminary Champion. He achieved this impressive feat by topping the Preliminary Single Pony Division with his rescue horse – a chestnut 12-year-old Morgan/Welsh-cross gelding named Jacob – groom Monique Dandurand, and navigator Mathieu Gagné. A second place start on a score of 58.10 after the dressage phase on June 21 set the team up well for the next day’s cones competition. There, they bumped up to first place with a cones score of 3.00. In the final marathon phase on June 23, they achieved a score of 61.58 to secure their championship on a total combined score of 122.68.


François Bergeron and Jacob secured the title of American Driving Society (ADS) Preliminary Champions on June 21-23, 2019, at Windrush Farm in Metamora, MI.
Photo Credit: Abbie Trexler

“This win is a great achievement,” said François, who is an EC certified Combined Driving Judge, Technical Delegate, and Level 1 Driving Coach. “We have competed in pleasure and combined driving competitions for over 30 years, and are very happy and proud of the way we did and hope to do more. After this competition, my wife, Monique and I agreed to move up to the Intermediate level for the next show.”


François with ADS President, Daniel Rosenthal (middle) and competition organizer, Barbara Chapman (right).
Photo Credit: Abbie Trexler

François was followed by Kirsten Brunner, an EC certified Driving Level 1 Coach and English Competition Coach Specialist who resides in Hillsburgh, ON, as the Reserve Champion in the Preliminary Single Pony Division. She scored 132.16 with the Welsh/Arab-cross, Raindrop.

François commented, “I was really happy to have the two Canadians have the top placings at the Preliminary level. We were the only competitor from Québec, and Kirsten and I have been competing together for many years. This was the first time I’ve beaten her, so I’m happy about that, too!”

In the Preliminary Pair Horse Division, Sarah Steenbeek of Woodham, ON, earned the championship title with a pair of Friesian geldings, 13-year-old Vincent Stonecreek (Nanning 374 x Wander 352) and seven-year-old Oscar Stonecreek (Doaitsen 420 x Gerlof 294), who are owned by her father-in-law and fellow driver, Gerben Steenbeek of St. Marys, ON. Her soft and mindful driving across all three phases resulted in a final score of 176.34.

“The championship was a bonus on top of my desire to get out and compete again after having kids,” commented Sarah. “I went with the goal of challenging myself to doing that and more. I feel very encouraged to continue to strive forward and upwards with my driving!”

Canadians Sweep the Bromont International Driving Leaderboard
The next weekend, it was Gerben’s chance to top the leaderboard with his stunning homebred Friesian geldings. He skillfully navigated his team in the Bromont International Driving CAI 2*-H4, held June 28-30, 2019, in Bromont, QC, to a final score of 205.43 to secure the win. Vincent Stonecreek was once again part of the winning team of horses, accompanied by the 14-year-old Remko Stonecreek (Brandus 345 x Gerlof 294), eight-year-old Liam Stonecreek (Doaitsen 420 x Sape 381), and seven-year-old Marlow Stonecreek (Doaitsen 420 x Sape 381).


Gerben Steenbeek of St. Mary’s, ON, topped the CSI 2*-H4 leaderboard at the Bromont International Driving, help June 28-30, 2019, in Bromont, QC.
Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley

Jérome Drôlet of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC, also steered his way into a top spot in the Bromont International Driving CAI 2*-H2 division. He piloted his 11-year-old Dutch Harness Horse gelding, MF Dancer (Pandoerava x Balmoral) and Sarah Gagnon Therrien’s seven-year-old Warmblood gelding, Azzaro, to a final score of 184.04 for the win.


Jérome Drôlet of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC, topped the Bromont International Driving CAI 2*-H2 division with MF Dancer and Azzaro.
Photo Credit: Penelope Paquet

“It was my first time in the 2*,” said Jérome. “I was very impressed to compete in pairs against Darryl Billing (CAN), who is an experienced driver and also a four-in-hand driver. I was very proud of the performance of my two horses, who are a new team, as I had to replace one of my horses two weeks before the show.”

In the Bromont International Driving single horse class, it was Catherine Levasseur of Sainte-Sophie, QC, who nabbed CAI 2*-H1 victory by scoring 151.09 with her nine-year-old American Dutch Harness Horse mare, Fizz Forever (sired by Whiskei S-1486).

Michelle Courtemanche of Guelph, ON, won her first-ever FEI class in the International Bromont Driving CAI 1*-PS division, guiding her seven-year-old Dutch Harness Horse/Hackney-cross pony mare sired by Windfall, Fashionista, to a score of 56.02.


Michelle Courtemanche of Guelph, ON, won the Bromont Driving CAI 1*-PS division in her FEI debut, driving Fashionista with groom, Andrew Parry.
Photo Credit: Joanne Courtemanche

“Moving into the FEI division is a very exciting step in my driving career,” remarked Michelle. “I purchased Fashionista as a four-year-old and, with the help of my coach Kelly Houtappels-Bruder, have slowly developed her to this point. To have her perform so well in international competition at first asking was truly a special experience. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in the future.”

Return of the Steenbeeks at the Kentucky Classic Combined Driving Event
The Steenbeek family returned to competition at The Kentucky Classic Combined Driving Event, held in Paris, KY, from Aug. 28-Sept. 1. This time, the spotlight was on Gerben’s son, Jordan Steenbeek of Woodham, ON, who made his FEI debut in the CAI 1*-H2 division. He piloted two of their trademark Friesian geldings, Oscar Stonecreek and 10-year-old Falco Stonecreek (Brandus 345 x Jurjen 303), to a score of 98.93 for first place.

Be sure to keep an eye on Canadian drivers for the rest of the season, including at the FEI World Championships for Ponies, held Sept. 25-29 in Ászár-Kisbér, HUN.

EC Media Contact / Personne-ressource de CE pour les médias : Jessie Christie