Quote of the Week
“He let me know that he knows his job. He gives such a good feeling when he does go well that any little bump in my hand or my leg is shocking to me.”
— Laura Graves on her longtime partner, Verdades, after their victory in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W this weekend in Wellington.
Speaking of Graves and Verdades...
Laura Graves & Verdades. Photo (c) Shannon Brinkman/US Equestrian
The World Equestrian Games Individual Dressage silver medalist has been named the 2018 USEF Equestrian of the Year.
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Graves, along the 17-year-old Verdades, were recognized by US Equestrian after their record-breaking season, which included helping to win the U.S. Dressage Team’s silver medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon and becoming the first American combination to earn Individual silver at a World Championship. In October, Graves also became the first U.S. rider to be ranked #1 in the world.
For his part, Verdades (a.k.a “Diddy) was also honored with US Equestrian’s International Horse of the Year Award. "Thank you for recognizing my horse tonight because this is really what it is about," said Graves. "This great horse brings joy to so many people. So it is Verdades tonight that we really have to say thank you to. It has been a great pleasure, it has been my pleasure to share him with the world."
With these awards, another fitting chapter has been written in the fairytale story that is the partnership of Laura Graves & Verdades. Laura’s family purchased the temperamental Dutch gelding as a six-month-old weanling in 2002, scraping together a modest budget in order to help Laura pursue her dreams in the sport. The pair essentially grew up together, building an unshakable bond through more than a decade of highs and lows, including multiple falls that led to two fractured vertebrae in Laura’s back. A last ditch effort to make the U.S. Dressage Team led Laura & Diddy to Florida, where they eventually caught the eye of Team coach Debbie McDonald. The rest is history. “I come from a family of athletes, and it wasn’t until I settled into equestrian sport that I really became comfortable with myself,” Graves said in her acceptance speech.
“If it weren’t for the family I found [there], I would be just an uncoordinated awkward girl without very many friends, so thank you all for being my friends.”
If You Can Only Watch One Round…
Watch Martin Fuchs Lose His Lid at CSI Basel
If there’s one combination you never want to see coming behind your own name in the jump-off order, it’s Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs & Clooney. The World Equestrian Games Individual silver medalists are known for jumping clear and eating up the ground—all the while maintaining the square knees and textbook form of a top performance hunter round. See what we mean, above.
This Just In...
The Women Win the Day in the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes at WEF
Kicking off 12 consecutive weeks of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, the women are back on top in the annual Battle of the Sexes competition, the preliminary “Saturday Night Lights” grand prix event of the 2019 season. After their first loss in 10 years back in 2018, the women—comprised of Jessica Mendoza, Nicole Bellissimo, Carly Anthony, KC Van Aarem, Sydney Shulman, Abigail McArdle, Taylor Land, Amanda Derbyshire, Maggie Jayne, and Kristen Vanderveen—soundly defeated the men once again over two rounds on a score of 29 to 11. #GirlPower
PonyApp Pro Tips
Think you know what it’s like to fly with horses? Think again!
Loading horses onto a plane at The ARK facilty at JFK Airport. (c) Ashley Neuhof Photography
Every week, planes loaded with horses fly back and forth between North America, Europe, and beyond. What's it really like to fly alongside equine cargo? We went behind the scenes with Brook Ledge and Horse America to find out.
Lady Gaga Bids Farewell to Her Mare, Arabella
It’s been a whirlwind year for singer, actress, and sometime-horse-girl Lady Gaga, but her win at last weekend’s Critic's Choice Awards was sadly bittersweet: the artist was also enduring the loss of her beloved mare, Arabella, and shared her grief on Instagram.