24 April 2024

Katydid 2024: Raymond Helmuth Wins USEF Combined Driving National Championship

It was an exciting week of competition at the Katydid Combined Driving Event (CDE) with eight combinations from the FEI 3* H1 and Open Advanced H1 divisions contesting the USEF Combined Driving National Championship for Advanced Single Horses. After three phases of competition, Raymond Helmuth and Kendro were victorious after delivering strong performances across the board.

Helmuth and Kendro demonstrated the strength of their partnership on their way to winning their first Advanced National Champion title. Helmuth has trained Kendro since he was three years old, and the pair won the 2020 USEF Combined Driving National Championship for Preliminary Single Horses before steadily moving up the ranks to the Advanced level. Helmuth and his own 2015 Dutch Warmblood (Globetrotter x Genderose) stallion were the Advanced Single Horses Reserve National Champion in 2022 and third in 2023, but this year they finished atop the leaderboard.

Raymond Helmuth and Kendro
Photo: Melanie Guillamot

Dressage and marathon

“I was there for him, and he was there for me. Even when I made small mistakes, he just gave absolutely his whole heart, and he was just a really good boy all weekend,” Helmuth said of Kendro at this year’s event. “The biggest thing for me was the fact that the horse was willing to do everything I asked him and more. It’s like he felt the excitement just as much as I did.”

The pair took the early lead on Friday with their flowing driven dressage test, scoring 42.78 penalties to win the first phase of competition. Helmuth said it was a personal-best test by at least four points with great harmony from start to finish. “There were just moments when I felt that we had this feeling of connection,” said Helmuth. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what the score is going to be, but there is something that is clicking and going better than it ever has.’”

The connection continued into Saturday’s marathon phase. They handily won the FEI 3* H1 marathon phase by having the fastest times in each of the seven obstacles of Henning Lemcke’s (GER) track with a total of 85.57 penalties. “It wasn’t the strongest he’s ever driven, but he didn’t fizzle out. The last half of the marathon, he was actually driving better than the first half,” said Helmuth. “He was willing to save me a little bit, so it was just amazing.”


It was a rainy day for the final phase of competition on Sunday, but Helmuth and Kendro stayed focused. They had a double-clear cones round to win the national championship with a total score of 128.35 penalties.

“It was very challenging course, but, for some reason, he does better with a really challenging course,” said Helmuth. “He drove probably the best he has literally ever driven in cones. He was just there in every single turn. He did not resist no matter the speed or anything I asked for.”


Taylor Bradish (Windsor, S.C.) and Katydid Duchess put forth a determined effort to finish as the Reserve National Champions. They tallied 59.21 penalties in the driven dressage phase to start the competition. They won the Open Advanced H1 marathon phase with quick times in the obstacles for 84.04 penalties. Bradish and the 2009 Welsh pony cross (Danyloo x Bessame) mare owned by Jennifer Matheson were double-clear in the cones phase to finish on an overall score of 143.25 penalties.

Leslie Berndl (Lexington, Ky.) and Impressive delivered strong results throughout the competition to finish in third place. The pair earned a score of 49.44 penalties for their driven dressage test before adding 98.53 penalties to their score in the marathon phase. Berndl and her own 2013 Dutch Warmblood (First Class x Olizandra) gelding collected 2.34 time penalties in the cones phase to finish on an overall score of 150.31 penalties.

Click here for the results

Source: USEF