With the WEG almost here, it's time to look at the dressage U.S. Team and see what horse and rider combinations will represent our country in these coming weeks. Let's take a look!
For the first horse and rider combination, we have Laura Graves, currently training in Florida, on her 2002 Dutch warmblood gelding, Verdades. In 2002, Laura's mom bought Verdades as a yearling from Holland after only watching sales video. In 2013, the pair started competing in Grand Prix. Earlier this year, Laura and Verdades competed in the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. There she met Olympic dressage rider Debbie McDonald, who became her trainer. Laura believes that without the help of Debbie, she would not have made it to WEG. Soon, Laura made it to the U.S. WEG qualifying competition. Though she placed out of the top fifteen that would be invited to qualify for the team, several riders dropped out and she earned a spot. After that, she travelled to Gladstone for another competition, where she placed 2nd behind Steffen Peters on Legolas. With that high placing, Laura earned her spot on the WEG Dressage Team.
Next on the team is Steffen Peters on Legolas 92, a 2002 Westphalian gelding. Steffen has been competing for the past eight, earning an impressive record. He placed fourth in the 2006 Aachen WEG on Floriano. For the 2008 Olympics he placed fourth on Ravel, a year later becoming the second U.S. rider to win the World Cup, also riding Ravel. In his previous WEG in Kentucky(2010), he won two individual medals on the same horse. In 2011 he earned double gold on Weltino's Magic. Most recently, he won the national championships at Gladstone on Legolas, qualifying for WEG.
|Laura Grave and Verdades credit|
Our next rider is Adrienne Lyle, who will be riding Peggy Thomas' 1999 Oldenburg gelding, Wizard. Originally, Debbie McDonald rode Wizard, but upon recognizing the talent of young working student Adrienne, she handed the reins over the Wizard's present rider. according to Adrienne, the pair clicked and in 2008, they won the Brentina Cup. In 2009, the pair competed in Grand Prix for the first time-neither of them had done it before. I love this pair because it shows you don't need an top rider to get a horse to that level, or vice versa.
The final team member is Tina Konyot and Calecto V, her 1998 Danish warmblood stallion. Tina has competed in the WEG before, in 2010 in Kentucky, and is experienced at competing at this level. She also competed in the Olympics in London. She has qualified for 2014 WEG, her second one.