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May 29, 2014- U.S. Para-Driving Team Selected for 2014 FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships

United States Para-Equestrian Association

Media Contact: Lindsay McCall -Lindsay@uspea.org -USPEA, 3940 Verde Vista Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360- www.USPEA.org

U.S. Para-Driving Team Selected for 2014 FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships

Thousand Oaks, CA- May 29, 2014- The United States Driving for the Disabled would like to congratulate the following three drivers and two alternates who have been selected by the USEF Para-Equestrian Driving World Championship Selectors and the High Performance Committee to represent The United States in the 2014 FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships. The World Championship will be held in Sandringham, England from June 27-29, 2014. Marie De Ronde will serve as Chef d’Equipe and Sara Schmitt will serve as coach.

Team Members for the 2014 FEI World Para Equestrian Driving Championships:
Diane Kastama  Grade 1
Virginia (Boo) Fitch  Grade 2
Vietnam Veteran Bob Giles  Grade 2

1st Alternate: Theresa (Ginny) Leal   Grade 2
2nd Alternate: Mary Gray   Grade 2

The following driver will represent the U.S. as an Individual at the 2014 FEI World Para Equestrian Driving Championships for Singles:

Mary Gray (Brunswick, Maine) will drive Nick Hammond’s Leyeswick the Rooster. Leyeswick the Rooster is a 2006 Welsh gelding.

Schedule of Events:

June 26-27 Driven Dressage
June 28 Marathon & Obstacles
June 29 Cones & Awards Presentation

Location: The Royal Estate, Sandringham, Norfolk PE35 6 EN

For more information: http://www.sandringhamestate.co.uk/drivingtrials/

 2012 FEI Para-Equestrian Driving World Championships in Breda, the Netherlands.   Driver is Diane Kastama, Horse is Ruby KWPN , Groom is Jody Cutler  Picture taken by Marie de Ronde.
2012 FEI Para-Equestrian Driving World Championships in Breda, the Netherlands. Driver is Diane Kastama, Horse is Ruby KWPN , Groom is Jody Cutler Picture taken by Marie de Ronde.

About Diane Kastama: Diane Kastama, Arroyo Grande, CA Grade I.  In 1991 a car crash left Diane paralyzed from the waist down. Although a lifelong horse person and dressage enthusiast, riding without the use of her legs was not much fun and she soon turned to driven dressage and then the exciting sport of combined driving. Her relatives and friends thought she was crazy for taking on a sport that involves sitting atop a tall carriage, pulled by a horse going “hell-bent” for speed.

Diane started competing with her home bred Appaloosa’s but now Diane competes with a pair of Section D Welsh Cobs, Rupert and George. She drives them single, pair and tandem. She competes against able-bodied drivers all over the Western United States and occasionally on the East Coast at the Intermediate and Advanced level. Diane has also demonstrated her skills at Rolex, KY, Horse Expo in Sacramento, the “Night of the Horse” in Del Mar. The Equine Affair and various therapeutic horse programs throughout California. She has also participated in the closing ceremonies at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Diane is always willing to share her skills and knowledge and bring driving to the forefront of equine sports.  Diane has been very succesful in international Para-Equestrian competition, coming home with an Individual Silver and Team Bronze driving a borrowed Welsh Cob Stallion in 2002 Greven, Germany.  2004 she place 5th with a borrowed Welsh cob in Endinburg, Scotland.  In 2006 she came home with Individual Gold driving her own Welsh cob gelding Jasper.  In 2008 Diane earned Individual Bronze and Team Silver driving Jasper once again. Kastama will drive Rupert at the Championships who is a 1996 Welsh Cob gelding.

Vietnam War Veteran and Purple Heart recipient Bob Giles. Photo courtesy of Brenda Giles

About Bob Giles: Bob Giles (Morriston, Fla.) is a well known driving horse trainer and clinician who has dedicated his life to the sport of driving. His selection to the USEF Para-Equestrian Driving Team is a dream come true for this accomplished competitor, Vietnam War veteran, and Purple Heart recipient.

Giles was in combat within the the Vietnam War resulting in the loss of 90% of his hearing, a fused elbow and only partial use of his right hand. As a combat-wounded Purple Heart recipient, Bob is dedicating his drive to the memory of the 58,000 + men and women who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

Giles enthusiasm and determination for the thrilling sport of Combined Driving has driven him to the 2014 World Driving Championships in Sandringham, England, June 27-29, 2014. Giles will drive Koos De Ronde’s Solo and Olando.

About Virgina (Boo) Fitch:
Virginia (Boo) Fitch is from Pennhook, Va. Fitch grew up fox hunting and showing hunters. She attended Lynchburg College and rode on their intercollegiate riding team as well as the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Team. After graduating, she rode jumpers

Virginia (Boo) Fitch

for a prominent family in Quebec Canada. It was during this time that Fitch developed Rheumatoid Arthritis. It came on suddenly and strongly. Within two years she had a hip replacement at the age of 26. By the year 2000, she was having considerable problems with her feet and ankles and it just so happened that she owned a school horse that drove and had a good friend that competed in Combined Driving. Between the safe horse and her friend she started driving and loved it. After five surgeries and three joint replacements over the course of 10 years from 2000 to 2010, teaching children just became too difficult and she was finding herself competing in Combined driving more often. Fitch has become a prominent competitor in the para-equestrian driving world and she looks forward to her recent appointment as a member of the 2014 Team. Fitch will drive Kiko, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse Mare at the Championships.

About the United States Para-Equestrian Association:


The USPEA is a network of riders, judges, national federation members, and equestrian enthusiasts.  The association gives athletes the ability to get involved and expand their knowledge and experience in the Para-Equestrian sport. The USPEA encourages Para-athletes to participate in all disciplines under the Para-Equestrian umbrella.


The USPEA is a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) which serves as the National Governing Body for the equestrian sport.  This relationship between the USPEA and USEF is to encourage Para-Equestrian competitors, leisure riders, coaches, fans and enthusiasts to network and get involved with the entire equestrian sport.


Ultimately the goal of the USPEA is to foster growth in the Para-Equestrian discipline.  From growth in the number of participants to growth as a team, and growth in the experience and knowledge of all involved.  From local horse shows to international Paralympic Games, the USPEA provides Para-Equestrians the knowledge and resources needed to succeed.  The USPEA connects with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), USA Reining, and USEF which provide Para-Equestrians the top equestrian resources.


In June 2010, the USPEA earned its 501 (c)(3) status which has encouraged supporters to help supply funding to the Para-Equestrian Team as a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation(USEF). 


For more information about the USPEA please visit www.USPEA.org or contact USPEA President: Hope Hand by e-mail: hope@uspea.org or by phone: (610)356-6481.


To view an online version of this press release please visit: http://uspea.org/category/recent-uspea-press-news/

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