Tag Archives: Laura Graves

USEF Festival of Champions Continues at PBIEC

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo Credit: ©MegBanks/EquestrianSportProductions, LLC.

Wellington, FL – December 9, 2015 – The USEF Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corporation continues tomorrow at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), home of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), showcasing the nation’s best Small Tour and Large Tour combinations through Saturday, December 12.

Laura Graves of Geneva, FL and her own 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding Verdades (Florett AS x Liwilarda) stole the show on the first day of competition, as the duo saved the best for last, receiving a 76.460% in the Grand Prix as the final competitors in the ring. Steffen Peters of San Diego, CA collected second and third place honors aboard Legolas 92, a 2002 Westphalian gelding (Laomedon x Furstin), and Rosamunde, a 2007 Rheinlander mare (Rock Forever x First Lady), both owned by Four Winds Farm. Peters and Legolas 92 earned a 74.220% for second place and a 72.620% aboard Rosamunde for third.

General admission and parking are free to the public, including entrance to the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, hosted under the lights at The Stadium at PBIEC, beginning at 7pm on Saturday, December 12.

All classes will be available via live stream coverage through the USEF Network.

Please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com for more information, including start times and full results.

Dujardin and Other Decorated Riders Announced for US Open Dressage Competition in Central Park

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. Photos by Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén, Isabell Werth, Laura Graves, and Patrik Kittel will join Charlotte Dujardin to compete at the event.

Only a few hundred tickets still available!

August 14, 2015 – New York, NY – A star-studded cast of dressage riders will make their way to the 2015 Rolex Central Park Horse Show Sept. 25-26. The talented lineup that includes five of the world’s top 11 ranked riders will compete in the inaugural U.S. Open Dressage event.

The U.S. Open Dressage Grand Prix on Friday and the $75,000 Dressage Freestyle, presented by the Axel Johnson Group, on Saturday will highlight the schedule. The number-one dressage rider in the world over the last 24 months and double Olympic Gold Medalist, Charlotte Dujardin, will make a rare trip to New York City with her famed mount Valegro.

German rider Isabell Werth, one of the most celebrated equestrian Olympians of all time with five gold medals and currently ranked 7th in the world, will also make the trip to the U.S. along with Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén and Patrik Kittel, ranked 6th and 11th respectively. Spain’s Juan Matute Jr., recent European Junior Champion and one of the world’s most talented up-and-coming riders, will also compete.

North America will be well-represented with rising star and 9th ranked rider Laura Graves and her mount Verdades making a trip to the big city, along with Catherine Haddad Staller and Charlotte Jorst, all riding for the USA. They will be joined by Canada’s Ashley Holzer and Karen Pavicic to round out the competition.

Laura Graves and Verdades
Laura Graves and Verdades

Laura Graves commented, “I am beyond excited to be invited to this very special event in Central Park. This year will be a real showcase and I am looking forward to a strong competition. I have one thing on my mind going into 2016 and that is Rio. This show is the perfect stepping stone on that path.”

After the 2014 debut of the sold-out Rolex Central Park Horse Show, Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group, LLC (IEG), is pleased to see the reach and impact of the thrilling event expand to more international talent this year.

“We work hard to make sure the show itself is as special as it can be, but it is the riders who truly make it unforgettable,” he said. “We are very proud to present the best in sport across so many disciplines in the heart of New York City.”

Rolex Central Park Horse Show Dressage Schedule:

Friday, September 25th
1:30 PM – U.S. Open Dressage Grand Prix

Saturday, September 26th
6:30 PM – U.S. Open $75,000 Dressage Freestyle, presented by Axel Johnson Group

The second-annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show will feature five days of multi-discipline equestrian sport. The schedule will include the inaugural U.S. Open in the following categories: Jumpers, Dressage, Hunters, U25 Jumpers, and Arabians.

Tickets are now on sale for all events at the 2015 Rolex Central Park Horse Show. There are only a few hundred tickets still available for the event and they are anticipated to sell out. Tickets can now be purchased at http://bit.ly/1AV2imv.

Additional information, including matinee performances, will be announced in the coming weeks on www.coth.com and www.centralparkhorseshow.com.

Media Contact:
Shin-Jung Hong
Nicholas & Lence Communications
Tel: 212.938.0005

Equestrian Media Contact:
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Lindsay Brock

Premier Equestrian Congratulates Team USA on Bringing Home Gold at Pan American Games

Silver medalist Laura Graves and Verdades during their freestyle at the 2015 Pan American Games in a Premier Equestrian Brentina Arena (Photo courtesy of Red Bay Group, LLC)

Toronto, Canada (July 15, 2015) – Premier Equestrian, maker of world-class dressage arenas, arena footing, and horse jumps, was thrilled to watch the U.S. Dressage Team take the 2015 Pan American Games by storm. The company was especially excited to cheer on Steffen Peters and Laura Graves, who use Premier’s products and have been dubbed “Premier Equestrians” by the company. After helping the U.S. to Team Gold, Peters earned the Individual Gold medal and Graves took home Individual Silver. The Team Gold medal, earned with a team total score of 460.506, guarantees the U.S. a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Team USA claimed victory at the Pan Ams in a Premier Equestrian Brentina Arena. “The Brentina Arena and three foot flower boxes were provided through our Canadian distributor, System Fencing,” reported Kathryn Rustad, Premier Equestrian’s Internal Marketing Director. “The arena has been used at many world-class competitions. Top facilities seek out the Brentina Arena because of its unique safety features and its elegance.”

The revolutionary design of the Brentina Arena solves problems previously associated with multi-rail arenas. “The 18 inch base cone is extremely stable in high wind and the rails snap into each base to release upon any force or impact, thus providing safety for horse and rider,” Rustad explains.

The arena is named after Olympian and fellow “Premier Equestrian” Debbie McDonald’s famous mare, Brentina. “We are very particular about what equipment we use in our training facility,” said McDonald. “Not only did this arena pass our inspection, but we felt it was such an exceptional design providing form and function with the highest degree of safety, that we gave it our finest approval by naming it the Brentina Arena.”

Laura Graves, Silver medalist in Tuesday’s Freestyle competition, trained in preparation for the Pan American Games under McDonald at Rivergrove Farm in Hailey, Idaho. Graves, a self-proclaimed underdog with what is shaping up to be a “fairytale” story according to CNN, has had a journey to international success that has caught the eyes of many equestrian enthusiasts. She and her Dutch Warmblood Verdades (Florett AS- Liwilarda, Goya), known as “Diddy,” have captured the hearts and the attention of spectators around the world. Purchased in The Netherlands, based solely on a video, Diddy arrived as a fiery and “explosive” six-month-old. The now thirteen-year-old Diddy grew up on the Graves’ family farm in Vermont, and then moved with Graves to Geneva, Florida, where the duo began their dressage career.

Peters and Legolas 92, a thirteen-year-old Westfalen gelding owned by Four Winds Farm LLC, battled impressive rides, especially from the host country riders. After the team competition results were final, Peters stated, “The Canadians did a wonderful job. They rode extremely well. I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind that we might not be going to the Olympics. It kept me fired up enough to put in the performance that we did.”

USA claimed the Team Gold medal on Sunday, and finished out the Pan American Games with red, white, and blue leading the scoreboard. Peters brought his best to the show ring for the Intermediate I Grand Prix Freestyle, on his mount, Legolas 92, scoring a 80.075 percent to earn first, with Graves and Verdades following at a 79.825 percent.

Premier Equestrian proclaimed “a big congratulations to team USA for their win, and to our Premier Equestrians, Steffen Peters and Laura Graves!” Premier Equestrians are riders who have demonstrated sportsmanship, generated awareness for horse sports, or have been outstanding in his or her contribution to equestrian culture.

Premier Equestrian’s world-renowned expert arena footing, dressage arenas, and revolutionized horse jumps are crafted and designed to be perfect for riders of any level. Learn more about the company and its outstanding Premier Equestrians at www.PremierEquestrian.com.

For more information contact:
Heidi Zorn, Premier Equestrian

Double-Gold and Individual Silver for USA in Pan-American Games Dressage

(L to R) Laura Graves (USA) silver, Steffen Peters (USA) gold, and Chris von Martels (CAN) bronze. (FEI/StockImageServices.com)

Lausanne (SUI), 14 July 2015 – America’s Steffen Peters and Laura Graves today added individual gold and silver to the team title secured on Sunday at the Pan-American Games 2015 in Toronto, Canada where the host nation’s Chris von Martels scooped individual bronze this afternoon.

The result is a sensational fifth consecutive Pan-American team victory for the Americans, bringing their tally to eight team and nine individual Dressage titles in the 64-year history of the event, and earning a team berth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

And it was a back-to-back double of individual gold for Peters who, although he didn’t surpass the Pan-American Games record score of 80.132 which he set at Guadalajara in Mexico four years ago with Weltino’s Magic, came close when posting 80.075 for today’s individual win with Legolas.

Team competition

The Americans took the lead from the outset of the team competition and held on for gold, but the host Canadians chased them all the way to the line to claim silver, while Brazil just pipped Mexico for the bronze. Results were combined from two days of mixed Small and Big Tour competition that began with Prix St George and Grand Prix last Saturday (11 July), and only teams with Grand Prix combinations were eligible for the single Olympic berth on offer so only USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil were in that race.

US stalwart, Steffen Peters, posted the biggest Grand Prix score of the day with Legolas at 77.240, and when added to Laura Graves’ 75.080 with Verdades, and Kimberly Herslow’s 75.184 in the Prix St George the first-day US tally was 230.504. Three scores from each team were taken into account, so Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo’s 71.790 in the Prix St George was the team discard.

However, the Canadians were hot on their heels when Brittany Fraser and All In scored 76.105 and Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar posted 75.026. Of the Canadian Big Tour pairs it was Belinda Trussell and Anton who scored highest with 74.949, Megan Lane and Caravella awarded 72.400 for the discard. And going into Sunday’s decider Canada trailed the USA by just 4.433 points while the three-member Mexican side of Jesus Palacios (Wizard Banamex), Jose Padilla (Donnersberg) and Bernadette Pujals (Heslegaards Rolex) lay only 0.203 points ahead of Brazil’s Joao Paulo Dos Santos (Veleiro do Top), Sarah Waddell (Donelly 3), Joao Victor Marcari Oliva (Xama dos Pinhais) and Leandro Aparecido da Silva (D Caprio).

Plenty of pressure

There was plenty of pressure as the action got underway on Sunday in the Intermediaire 1 and FEI Grand Prix Special, but the Americans stood firm, bolstered by personal-best scores from both Graves in the Special and Herslow in the Intermediaire 1, and backed up by Peters‘ 72.667 while Schut-Kery posted 73.533. Their final tally of 460.506 moved them just over 5.5 points ahead of the Canadians to secure the gold at the end of the day, while the Brazilians leap-frogged the Mexicans for the bronze.

US Chef d’Equipe, Robert Dover, said his team’s great result “showed that our Small Tour horses are beautifully trained and our Big Tour combinations showed why they are ranked seventh and eighth in the world right now. What could be better for a Chef d’Equipe than to bring a team and have them earn personal bests at a very important moment. Having earned qualification for the Olympic Games, it allows us to now focus and put our energy into preparing for Rio (2016 Olympic Games).”

Graves, whose meteoric rise to prominence only began in the lead-up to last summer’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy where she sensationally finished tenth individually with Verdades, was delighted with her personal-best 77.177 in the Grand Prix Special. “He was amazing out there, really on again today!” she said of her horse. “He loves Toronto!” Graves and Verdades and Peters and Legolas were key players in the US team that lined up fourth in Normandy behind the three European powerhouses of Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands who earned the three Olympic berths on offer there.

Paid tribute

Steffen Peters paid tribute to the silver medallists. “The Canadians did a wonderful job. They rode extremely well and gave us quite the run – it wasn’t easy!” he said.

Canada’s Belinda Trussell, an Olympian and three-time competitor at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ who was lining out in her first Pan American Games said, after scoring 76.578 in the Grand Prix Special, “I think, for Canada, that this Games has pushed us to a new level. To be coming away (from the team event) with nothing below 70 per cent, and highlights of 76 per cent, has never been done. It’s really exciting for Canada. We are so pumped as a nation, and pumped to go forward to the next Games. We are international contenders – there is huge excitement!” she added.

Individual medals

And the excitement continued today when a total of 21 horse-and-rider combinations lined out to contest the individual medals. Of these, 17 performed Intermediaire 1, while the final four Big Tour partnerships performed the Freestyle.

With just six left to go, von Martels and Zilverstar rocketed to the top of the leaderboard with a percentage score of 79.500 for his Intermediaire test. Judge at M, Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, awarded 81.500 and at judge at H, America’s Lilo Fore, awarded 80.750, and all five Ground Jury members put the Canadian temporarily into first place.

The 32-year-old rider from Ontario held on to the advantage until overtaken by Peters and Legolas who posted the first, and only, over-80 per cent score when third-last into the arena. Fore, Clarke and Ground Jury President Elizabeth McMullan chose this pair for the no. 1 spot this time around, setting the new target at 80.075. And when, last to go, 27-year-old Graves and Verdades collected 79.825 they scooped silver and pinned von Martels and Zilverstar back to bronze. It was an extremely close-fought affair, with only 0.575 separating the three medal-winners.

After Sunday’s Grand Prix Special, Peters admitted to having some issues in the execution of his test, but today he put all that behind him and came out once again with all guns blazing. “I’m still on cloud nine!” he said, shortly after the prizegiving.

A good job

“On Sunday Legolas did a good job but I didn’t do my best riding job, so I wanted to prove today that Legolas deserves to be one of top horses in the world. I gave it every bit of my strength and he produced a wonderful clean test. And on top of that he allowed me to be within a tenth of a second to the music so we had high artistic scores,” he explained.

“This season we have had a few ups and downs, so to finish so strong in the last test of the season – I can hardly describe how I feel right now!” he added. When asked about team-mate Laura Graves’ close silver-medal finish, Peters continued, “I knew before the competition today that it would be awfully close. I saw her doing a beautiful clean test, so the tension to last second today was quite something. I have to admit I got very emotional when Legolas was called out the winner!”

And the 50-year-old rider was quick to refer back to his US team-mates and the success they have achieved over the last few days. “Let’s not forget that every single rider, including the fourth horse, contributed to the team gold medal. There was a combination of drop scores, so everyone did their job, and it is a fantastic group of people – all good-hearted athletes. It’s quite something to win with wonderful friends you almost have to call family!” he said.

Facts and Figures:

Victory in the team competition has secured a qualifying spot for the USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This was another record-breaking performance from the Americans who already held the record for four consecutive team victories, and have now increased that to five.

16 nations were represented in Dressage at the 17th Pan-American Games while 10 countries fielded teams.

The Ground Jury consisted of: Hans Matthiesen DEN, Stephen Clarke GBR, Maribel Alonso MEX, Elizabeth McMullan CAN (President) and Lilo Fore USA.

A total of 21 horse-and-rider combinations competed for the individual medals.

The list of teams so far qualified in Dressage for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games now includes, Brazil (automatic qualification), Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands (placings at Alltech FEI World Equestiran Games™ 2014 in Normandy), Australia (best ranked team from Olympic Group F or G at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy), and USA (single qualifier from Pan-American Games 2015 in Toronto, Canada).

Countries can also qualify “composite” teams. For full details of Olympic DRESSAGE qualification opportunities, and list of teams, check out this link: http://fei.org/system/files/Dressage%20-%20Rio%202016%20-%20Qualification%20System_13July%202015.pdf.

The next major Olympic qualification opportunity is at the forthcoming FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany, 11-23 August 2015, where 3 further places are on offer.

History: Argentina staged the very first Pan American Games from 25 February to 9 March 1951 in its capital, Buenos Aires. A total of 22 countries took part, with four – Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico – competing in the three equestrian events. Just three riders from Argentina and Chile lined out in the Dressage discipline, with Chile taking team gold as well as individual gold and bronze. Individual champion was Jose Larrain with Rappel. At this 17th Pan American Games 64 years later, Argentina finished fifth, behind Mexico, in the Dressage team event on a score of 201.016.

Find out more about the Pan-American Games 2015 here and check out the programme of events here. Results are available here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:
At Toronto:
Jean Llewellyn
Press Officer

Peters and Graves Earn Individual Medals at Pan American Games

Individual Medalists at the Pan American Games (StockImageServices.com)

Caledon, Ont. – The United States Dressage Team bids a fond farewell to the Pan American Games as they depart the Caledon Equestrian Park with Team Gold medals, an Individual Gold medal for Steffen Peters and Legolas 92, an Individual Silver medal for Laura Graves and Verdades, and a 2016 Olympic Games berth in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The week was marked by team success, invaluable experience, and ambitious optimism about the future.

The final day of dressage competition saw 21 athlete-and-horse combinations performing their FEI Intermediaire I Freestyles for the Small Tour and FEI Grand Prix Freestyles for the Big Tour.

Decorated American dressage athlete Peters and Four Winds Farm’s Legolas 92 performed the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle with their usual skill, expression, and excellence, earning a huge score of 80.075%. Speaking to the highlights of the test, Peters said, “He kept the cadence from the passage and the piaffe felt huge, the passage in the half-pass felt just as big as the half-passes on the straight line, his changes were clean, and he did not make a mistake – that in itself is a huge highlight for Legolas.”

Peters and Legolas 92 have the distinction of earning both Team and Individual Gold medals at these games. In addition, Peters won the Team and Individual Gold medals at the 2011 Pan American Games on Weltino’s Magic. FEI World Equestrian Games and FEI World Cup veterans, Peters and Legolas 92 are beacons of U.S. dressage achievement.

“I had to work today; he was very relaxed, and I gave it all,” said Peters. “This is just like the Olympic Games; there is no difference. From this morning, I had that mindset – we have to do this; we have to bring it home. Legolas gave it his all; he was just as good [today] as he was in the Grand Prix on the first day [Saturday]. What an awesome feeling; I am so extremely proud of him. For him to finish the season like this, it is just fantastic.”

The final combination to appear in Individual competition was the consistently successful team of Graves and her own Verdades. Always competitive in the best of company, they performed with characteristic accuracy and animation to achieve a score of 79.825% and earn the Individual Silver medal. The pair has had a career of ascending success including a fourth place team finish at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and a fourth place individual finish at the 2015 FEI World Cup Finals.

“Today we went in and did the best we could. It’s for yourself, so even though I am not as high as I was on Sunday, I am so thrilled to have another American on the top of the podium and a Canadian who rode extremely well this morning in Bronze,” said Graves of her Silver medal finish. “The highlight for me this week was really our Team Gold – that is what we came here for. To finish with a Silver medal next to Steffen is amazing.”

Kimberly Herslow and Kiroli Enterprises LLC’s Rosmarin were the first U.S. combination to enter the arena. Having achieved personal best scores on Saturday and Sunday, the pair produced a solid, though less precise, performance and earned a score of 73.175%. Explains Herslow, “My horse ran out of gas today. I think we did a super warm-up, but a shorter one would have been better. He still tried for me; he got flustered after the first mistake [in the first pirouette] and it just compounded after that because he does not usually make mistakes.” Herslow was proud of her efforts on behalf of the U.S. team. “I am still ecstatic about our prior two days competing for the team, and bringing that Gold back to the U.S.”

Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover praised the efforts of his human and equine athletes and is excited about their prospects.

“I could not be more thrilled and proud of my riders and everybody that contributed – their horses are obviously incredible. I am very hopeful that the depth in our country will continue improving and will be prepared to contend for a medal in Rio [at the Olympic Games].”

Canada’s Chis Von Martels and Zilverstar earned the Individual Bronze medal with a score of 79.500%.

Complete Individual Results

The FEI Bulletin released Monday night explains the series of events that lead to Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo not being permitted to compete in Individual competition. It is a great disappointment that a logical decision was agreed to by all parties and that subsequent and unnecessary actions were then taken by two countries. The USEF would like to express gratitude to Schut-Kery and Alice Womble, owner of Sanceo, who have been very understanding and gracious during this difficult process; they have been outstanding members of the U.S. Team.

Behind the Scenes with the U.S. Teams: USEF Sport Director Will Connell’s Blog

From the USEF Communications Department

US Pan American Dressage Team Has Sights Set On Olympic Qualification

Laura Graves and Verdades (StockImageServices.com)

Caledon, Ont. – The 2015 Pan American Games equestrian competition will begin tomorrow with dressage. New for the 2015 Pan American Games, dressage teams may be comprised of both Small Tour and Big Tour combinations. The following nations have entered at least one Grand Prix combination in team competition and are thus eligible to compete for 2016 Olympic qualification: Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The remaining six teams have entered Small Tour combinations only, but are still eligible to compete for team medals. Competition gets underway tomorrow at the Caledon Equestrian Park with the first day of team competition. Small Tour combinations will contest the FEI Prix St. Georges test, while Big Tour competitors will perform the FEI Grand Prix test. All United States horses passed inspection yesterday. There were two draws, one for each tour, and the U.S. has drawn fifth in the order for the Small Tour and fourth in the order for the Big Tour. The U.S. will ride in the following order with Small Tour combinations competing first, followed by Big Tour:

  1. Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo (11:34 a.m. ET)
  2. Kimberly Herslow and Rosmarin (2:39 p.m. ET)
  3. Laura Graves and Verdades (4:27 p.m. ET)
  4. Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 (5:12 p.m. ET)

The stakes are high as the team of Laura Graves, Steffen Peters, Kimberly Herslow, and Sabine Schut-Kery aim to qualify the U.S. for the 2016 Olympic Games. Direct qualification will be secured by earning the Pan American Games Team Gold medal.

“All our U.S. combinations had a wonderful warm-up in the main arena today and I feel extremely confident in their ability to excel in each phase of competition,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe/Technical Advisor Robert Dover. “We are focused on achieving Olympic qualification and realistically this means we need to win Team Gold. We are ready for this challenge.”

Graves, of Plymouth, Fla., will ride down center line on her own Verdades, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding. Graves and Verdades made their international debut last year and were on the U.S. Team at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, where they earned fifth place in the Grand Prix Freestyle and helped the U.S. Team to a fourth-place finish. In 2015, Graves and Verdades had another spectacular finish on the world stage, taking fourth place individually at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas.

Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 (StockImageServices.com)
Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 (StockImageServices.com)

Peters, of San Diego, Calif., will partner with Four Winds Farm’s 13-year-old Westphalian gelding Legolas 92. Peters is one of the most successful dressage athletes ever to represent the U.S., having participated in three Olympic Games, three FEI World Equestrian Games, and four FEI World Cup Dressage Finals. At the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Peters rode Weltino’s Magic to Team and Individual Gold medals. Upon the retirement of his famed mount Ravel, Peters has continued his winning ways with Legolas 92. In 2014, the pair clinched their third consecutive The Dutta Corp./USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship title. In 2015, they performed beautifully at the Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix to finish in third place.

Herslow, of Stockton, N.J., will ride Kiroli Enterprises LLC’s Rosmarin, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding. Competing in the Small Tour classes, the duo began the 2015 season in top form as they helped the U.S. Team to victory in the Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup in Wellington, Fla. Competing in Europe for the first time this summer, Herslow piloted Rosmarin to wins in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I at CDI4* Achleiten and CDI1* München-Riem.

Also successful in Small Tour classes and competing as a member of the U.S. Pan American Dressage Team is Schut-Kery, of Thousand Oaks, Calif. Schut-Kery will pilot Alice Womble’s Sanceo, a nine-year-old Hanoverian stallion. Schut-Kery has competed Sanceo since his five-year-old year, forging a long and successful partnership. This year, the pair has had tremendous success on both U.S. coasts with wins in California and Florida. Extending their efforts to Europe, they were third in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I at CDI4* Achleiten and second and third, respectively, in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I at CDI1* München-Riem.

Poised and focused, the U.S. Pan American Dressage Team will be a formidable competitor at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Pan American Games Order of Go and Results

Behind the Scenes with the U.S. Teams: USEF Sport Director Will Connell’s Blog

From the USEF Communications Department

United States Premier Equestrians Make Top Ten in FEI World Individual Dressage Rankings

Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 (Photos courtesy of Premier Equestrian)

Sandy, Utah (June 9, 2015) – Truly successful equestrians settle for nothing less than the best for themselves and their horses. So it’s no surprise that out of all the dressage riders in the United States, the two who rank highest in the FEI World Individual Dressage Rankings love Premier Equestrian. Steffen Peters and Laura Graves, known as “Premier Equestrians” by this leading arena, footing, and jump manufacturer, are now ranked nine and ten, respectively, in the world. It is believed to have been at least six years since American riders have achieved two of the top ten rankings in the world at once – since July, 2009, in fact, when Peters was also one of the two top-ranked U.S. riders.

In the FEI World Individual Dressage Rankings released on May 31, 2015, Peters and Legolas 92, a thirteen-year-old Westfalen gelding owned by Four Winds Farm LLC, moved from the eleventh slot to the ninth. The pair’s most recent successes include placing third at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final I Grand Prix with a score of 76.843 percent. Show ring victories don’t stop there for Peters, of San Diego, California. In his final show of the 2015 Dressage Pan American Games European CDI Observation Event Squad – a CDI4* Grand Prix in Achleiten, Austria – Peters took first place on his newer mount, Rosamunde. Their winning score was 74.560, only four months after Rosamunde (an eight-year-old Rhinelander mare owned by Four Winds Farm) began showing in the Big Tour.

Laura Graves and her own thirteen-year-old KWPN gelding Verdades (Florett AS-Liwilarda, Goya) – who Graves got as a six-month old and has ridden to international success since – retained their tenth slot in the FEI World Individual Dressage Rankings since last month. Graves is currently focusing on training with Olympian Debbie McDonald, who is also a proud Premier Equestrian. Graves and Verdades, who Graves calls “Diddy”, achieved a fourth place and score of 79.125 percent in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle, and have not competed since. With that competition and her time in Hailey, Idaho with McDonald under her belt, the Geneva, Florida based Graves will be a formidable competitor in the 2015 Pan American Games in July.

Laura Graves and Verdades
Laura Graves and Verdades

Premier Equestrian, based in Sandy, Utah, congratulates Peters and Graves on putting double United States dressage talent in the FEI World Individual Dressage Rankings top ten. “A ‘Premier Equestrian’ is an equestrian who has been outstanding in his or her contribution to horses, riding, and equestrian culture; and who has achieved a high level of competition, generated awareness of the sport, and shared knowledge,” explains Premier Equestrian’s president Heidi Zorn. “Steffen and Laura do this so well, and we are proud to work with them.”

The company is globally recognized for its expert arena footing, premier dressage arenas, and revolutionizing horse jumps. The research behind Premier’s effective products, the materials they are created from, and the living testimonials of horses and riders who use them – like Graves, Peters, and McDonald – explain why Premier Equestrian is a leader in its market. Learn more about the company and its outstanding Premier Equestrians at www.PremierEquestrian.com.

For more information contact:
Heidi Zorn, Premier Equestrian

Graves and Verdades Place Fourth in Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades (SusanJStickle.com)

Las Vegas, N.V. – In the highly anticipated Finale to the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final, Laura Graves and her own Verdades rose to the occasion scoring a 79.125 to place fourth. In their first World Cup Final appearance, Graves and Verdades showcased their continued brilliance in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. With 18 starters from nine countries participating, the competition was stiff.

Graves (Plymouth, Fla.) and the KWPN gelding, who turned 13 years of age yesterday, entered the arena with confidence and performed a bold Freestyle test highlighted by pirouettes, two-time changes on a circle, and one-time changes down centerline.

“Freestyles are always so amazing to ride and the opportunity to ride one here in Las Vegas with a horse that was so much more relaxed than he was on Thursday [in the Grand Prix] was incredible,” said Graves.

Fifth in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Graves was thrilled with Verdades’ first competition in an indoor arena. “I am very proud of him and our performance. It is only our third time competing in this type of competition with top riders from all over the world,” said an ecstatic Graves.

The defending champions and current World and Olympic Games Gold medalists, Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain and Valegro, did not disappoint, winning the trophy and champion title by nearly 10 percentage points with a 94.196. In second place was Edward Gal of The Netherlands and Glock’s Undercover N.O.P. scoring 84.464 and in third was Jessica von Bredow-Werndl of Germany and Unee BB with an 80.464.

For complete results, visit worldcuplasvegas.com.

From the USEF Communications Department

Graves Records 2nd Ever 80% at AGDF in Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* Freestyle

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photos copyright SusanJStickle.com.

Bateson Chandler, Gundersen, Wilcox, and Fraser Record CDI Wins

Wellington, FL – March 28, 2015 – Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades wowed the crowd again at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, this time receiving an 80.175% in their FEI Grand Prix Freestyle as part of the Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup CDIO3*. The class, which combined pairs from Intermediaire-1 Freestyle and the Grand Prix Freestyle, was the individual portion of this year’s Nations Cup competition. Chris Von Martels (CAN) and Zilverstar finished in second with a 75.600% performing the I-1 Freestyle and fellow Canadian Belinda Trussell and Anton followed in third with a 75.475% in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Four other CDI classes were held today at AGDF as well to conclude the 2015 season.

Graves and Verdades have won the final three Grand Prix Freestyles of the 2015 season at AGDF, and the pair is moving towards a very competitive showing at the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas in two weeks’ time. “The ride I felt he was very consistent throughout. We had one little hiccup in our right canter half-pass where my rein actually got hooked around my foot and my spur I think. I went to give my right rein and I couldn’t because my hand was stuck so I had to kind of move my leg and untangle myself,” she laughed. “I got it out before the end of half-pass which was very lucky and I was going back towards ‘A,’ but my horse could not have cared less about it. I’m so thankful he has matured this far in his life that he will allow me to handle situations like that, and I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Watch the 80% ride for Laura and Verdades! Videos courtesy of Campfield Videos.

Today was the second occasion on which the pair has scored above 80% in the Grand Prix Freestyle, as they recorded an 82.036% at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen, France, last August. This was also only the second time in AGDF history that a rider has scored at least 80%; Lars Petersen and Mariett are the other pair.

“I don’t ever go into a competition with any expectations and to go in and be called double gold-medal winning, kind of gives you goose bumps,” stated Graves about her team and individual performances. “I’ve never really been in the position to be on a podium except here at Nations Cup, and it’s a really nice event to have sponsored by Stillpoint Farm and Adequan® and really bring home gold medals. It’s an amazing thing.”

Chris Von Martels has also had consistent success this season aboard Zilverstar and feels confident in where the pair will be heading in the coming months. “He really has stepped up to the plate this season, and I feel that there is always room for improvement, as we as riders know,” explained Von Martels. “I feel that we’re on a good path at the moment, and as long as we can keep going in that direction we will be quite happy.”

As for the future, the Pan American Games are in their sights and Von Martels will take advantage of the opportunity to compete at Palgrave, the site of equestrian competition at the games this summer. “We’re lucky that we’ve competed there in the past and it will be a good first show to do when we get back. I also would like to take some time to focus on the training and give him a break because it has been a long season, and he has been spectacular.”

Fellow Canadian Belinda Trussell had a fantastic week aboard Anton, finishing the Freestyle competition today in third place. The pair will contest one of the three CDI competitions in Toronto before the Pan American Games and will ultimately vie for a spot on the Canadian team. “He’s at a place in his life where he is very confident and understands his job, and he’s also happy to do it,” commented Trussell.

The pair finished with a silver medal yesterday in the Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* team competition and adding a bronze today was a thrilling experience for Trussell. “Sometimes going into events like this, you don’t know if it’s always possible to come out with a medal because there is really tough competition,” she explained, “For Canada to have a second and third place rider up here is a big deal for us too. It’s so rare to have an opportunity to have a competition like this in North America, and I can’t thank the organizers and sponsors enough for giving us this opportunity.”

Graves, who received the Best Horse Owner Award for the Grand Prix Freestyle presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty three consecutive weeks in a row for her wins, has decided to donate the awarded $15,000 to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. She commented on her decision to donate to the USET Foundation, “This is a real pleasure for me to donate money. Personally I’m not in a financial situation to be able to donate funds like that. For it to be presented that I have this gift to give in my name is a feeling that I get to be generous and give back to a program that has supported me for so long and has given me opportunities that I would not have been able to have any other way.”

Graves hopes the money will allow another up and coming American rider an opportunity to really showcase their talents. “Hopefully I will be able to give that opportunity to someone else, another fellow American, and that is really heartwarming. It feels so nice to be able to give back,” she said.

Arlene “Tuny” Page, owner of Stillpoint Farm, sponsors of the FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* this week, was thrilled with the performances and success of the show, explaining its imperative importance to riders in North America. “I think it is impossible to overstate how it important it is honestly,” she said. “I think we’ve seen sport here this winter and certainly this weekend on an exceedingly high level and I think we can give Europeans a run for their money.”

Page also commented on the need for riders to experience team competition in a setting and venue such as AGDF. “It’s also very important as riders that we have the opportunities to compete in the team format like Laura said and feel the support from our countries. It’s so important to the building of our national programs.”

The show, which was postponed yesterday due to severe weather, took a serious level of organization to reschedule and the team at AGDF could not have pulled it off any better. “It was a bit tricky and I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the people working here at AGDF, including Lloyd Landkamer and his team, the ground crew, judges, stewards, officials, and Jim Pitzer and the crew in the pavilion,” remarked Thomas Baur, Director of Sport at Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. “This season has been absolutely spectacular, and we are already looking forward to 2016.”

Mikala Gundersen and My Lady
Mikala Gundersen and My Lady

Mikala Gundersen (DEN) and My Lady topped the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Martha Jolicoeur and Maria Mendelsohn of Illustrated Properties, to cap off an incredible season for the pair. They received a 76.450% to take the win. Lisa Wilcox (USA) and Denzello finished just behind Gundersen with a 76.050%, and Susie Dutta (USA) aboard Currency DC placed third with a 74.350%.

Gundersen and My Lady are a crowd favorite each season at AGDF, and 2015 was no different. The mare has continued to flourish under the reins of Gundersen, and the two will look to take their talents to Las Vegas for the FEI World Cup Finals. “We only found out on Monday that we made the cut for Vegas so I’m actually glad we decided to do this show. I needed to go one more time and I just rode today. I love my music so much, and I just enjoy it,” she smiled when describing her test today.

Watch Mikala’s and My Lady’s winning test!

Gundersen and Wilcox, longtime friends, were so excited to be a part of the winners circle together. “I’m so happy to be up here with Lisa. This has been a long time coming,” laughed Gundersen. Wilcox added, “We go way, way back and this has been something we have always talked about and to think that twenty years ago we talked about it and now we’re sitting here together. It’s really special.”

Wilcox and Denzello had a great week of competition with two-second place finishes behind Gundersen. “He felt great today, just perfect. He’s in a place now where he’s confident,” commented Wilcox, as the horse is known to react to intense environments. “At first he was petrified and now I know he has let go and I can really ride him. He was so nice to ride and when I started hitting all of these points in the music, it just felt great,” she continued. “He loves his music and I think it almost calms him when he hears it, and he let go of that tension today.”

Katherine Bateson Chandler and Alcazar
Katherine Bateson Chandler and Alcazar

The successful AGDF season has come to an end for Gundersen and My Lady and Gundersen commented on the improvements she’s seen in “Lady” throughout the circuit. “I feel like I have more piaffe and passage from her and I think that was a highlight this circuit, but every day is a highlight on her,” she remarked.

Katherine Bateson Chandler (USA) and Alcazar took home the win in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*, presented by Martha Jolicoeur and Maria Mendelsohn of Illustrated Properties, with a score of 71.529%. Lara Griffith (GBR) and Rubin Al Asad followed in second and Arlene Page (USA) and Alina in third.

Bateson Chandler, who will fly back to her summer base with Carl Hester in the U.K. in a few short weeks, is proud of the progress Alcazar has made so far this season and is looking forward to developing his newfound confidence this summer with Hester. She explained, “He’s very green and new to the Grand Prix, so it’s fun when it comes together. He’s suffered a lot from show and ring nerves in the past, and he’s a much easier Grand Prix horse than a Small Tour horse.”

The duo has just tapped into the potential Bateson Chandler and Hester see in the gelding and now that there is more confidence, she’s thrilled to see what else Alcazar has in store. “He still has tons of room for improvement, and I don’t even feel like that’s the most he can do. He had a couple of mistakes and he gets a little nervous still and then we work through that. But even when he’s doing that, he’s still getting great scores.”

Confidence is key when teaching a young, green horse the ropes of Grand Prix, and Bateson Chandler is returning to the U.K. with more than she arrived with, which was the goal of the season. “He seems to really like this arena and now he’s starting to understand that when he gets in the ring, it’s a place where he can feel safe and confident,” she said. Bateson Chandler explained that is a new feeling for the pair and she is looking forward to their progress, as she truly believes the gelding is world-class.

See Katherine and Alcazar in their test!

Lara Griffith and Rubin Al Asad have made the most of their time in Wellington after also traveling from the U.K. to compete at AGDF alongside trainer Laura Tomlinson. “Rufus was amazing today, and I was so impressed with him. I felt like our Grand Prix earlier in the week was a little bit underpowered, but today I could fire him up and that was main thing I was looking to do,” commented Griffith.

The pair is still new to the level and Griffith was pleased with the fact that she was able to tap into a level of power she had yet to achieve in competition. “The power was there today which has been the most promising thing for us so far this season. He answered me without a single question or feeling like he was starting to suck back. It was definitely our best test so far this season,” she remarked.

Both pairs will return to England this month and will begin their competition season in Europe competing against each other once again at the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Windsor Castle in May.

The FEI Intermediaire-1 CDI 1* class, presented by Regal Horse Products, began on Friday but due to thunderstorms rolling in, it was halted, and the final three riders of the class completed their tests on Saturday morning. With the most exciting test of the week, Brittany Fraser of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada, and All In showed grace under pressure by winning the class with a score of 72.632%.

Fraser and All In began their test yesterday. She recalled, “I just finished the walk, and I picked up the canter and lightning struck almost right by the ring actually. Then immediately there was a crack of thunder and everyone screamed, ‘Get out!’ I had to stop, and the weather was too bad to carry on.”

She and All In, who train with Ashley Holzer, recouped this morning to put in “one of his better tests.” She explained, “I went in and had to pick up where I left off yesterday. I just trotted around and walked at B, then picked up my canter at P and started from there. It’s for sure the most interesting class I’ve ever won. I’ve never experienced that before. My horse was really good for me. He worked for me. It was a good way to end the season.”

Second place in the class was Belinda Trussell (CAN) riding Tattoo with a score of 70.500%, while third place went to Lisa Wilcox (USA) and Galant, who scored 70.263%.

Lisa Wilcox and Galant
Lisa Wilcox and Galant

In the FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle CDI1*, presented by Regal Horse Products, Lisa Wilcox (USA) and Galant won their second class of the week, this time with a score of 71.475%. Susanne Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano came in second place with a score of 70.825%, and third place went to Katharina Stumpf and For My Love on a score of 70.300%.

Wilcox and Galant have been paired together since he was four years old, and their ascent just over the months of AGDF has been particularly gratifying for Wilcox. “It’s been amazing how much he’s grown since the beginning of the season. I’ve watched him change to what he is now over three months; (it’s) amazing,” she expressed. “We knew we had a scopey horse and that he has talent, but what he was able to muster up with a few little tweaks that Robert did with me with him have just made a difference and the horse we’re seeing today.”

This was only the third freestyle that Galant has performed, so Wilcox feels that a victory today was very meaningful. She picked out specific music for him that would fit his personality and relative inexperience riding to music.

She explained, “I’ve specifically selected something a little more subtle that isn’t going to key him up. Especially with these horses that have the potential of being expressive, I want to be careful. This is where you make or break their desire to ride to music. I don’t want to scare him. We already have atmosphere, so I selected piano. It’s beautiful, and he’s very elegant, so it fits him perfectly.”

AGDF would like to thank all of the exhibitors, sponsors, staff, and spectators for making 2015 such an incredible success. For more information on the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

About the Adequan Global Dressage Festival:

The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits featuring 7 FEI Dressage events, including a 5* and the only FEI Nations’ Cup Series CDIO in the Western Hemisphere. The AGDF offers more than $650,000 in prize money for the seven international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world. The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center facility includes the Van Kampen covered arena (made possible by Kimberly and Frederic Boyer and family) and four outdoor arenas with world-class footing, 200 permanent stalls, and a VIP seating area.

Please visit
or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

Adequan Global Dressage Festival is located at
13500 South Shore Blvd, Wellington, Florida 33414

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations

Graves and Verdades Victorious in Stillpoint Farm CDIO3* Freestyle

Laura Graves and Verdades (SusanJStickle.com)

Wellington, Fla. – The Stillpoint Farm CDIO3* at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival came to a close on Saturday afternoon with Laura Graves and Verdades claiming top honors in the Freestyle on a score of 80.175%. Originally scheduled for Friday evening but postponed due to weather, the Freestyle hosted 11 Small Tour combinations and a further four Big Tour competitors. Led by Graves, the U.S. secured six of the top 12 placings.

In their final competition before the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final, to be held in Las Vegas, Nev., April 15-19, Graves (Plymouth, Fla.) and her 13-year-old KWPN gelding produced the second highest Freestyle score of their career. With their victory on Saturday afternoon, the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games veterans added Individual Gold to the Team Gold medal they won with their USA I teammates on Thursday night.

“To hear it called double Gold medal winning is an amazing feeling,” said Graves recapping on her weekend. Additionally, she was extremely pleased with Verdades’ performance on Saturday. “He felt great in the test; I had one hiccup in the right half-pass when my rein got stuck on my boot but he’s matured so much and couldn’t have cared less. I couldn’t be happier with my horse.”

Allison Brock and Rosevelt (SusanJStickl.com)
Allison Brock and Rosevelt (SusanJStickl.com)

Allison Brock (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Claudine and Fritz Kundrun’s 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion, Rosevelt, produced their personal best Freestyle score of 73.950% in a test that featured a high degree of difficulty in the one-time changes and piaffe. They finished the Freestyle in fifth place.

Kim Herslow (Stockton, N.J.) led the way for the four U.S. Small Tour combinations, earning a score of 73.800% for a solid effort from Kiroli Enterprises LLC’s 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Rosmarin. The 2013 Intermediaire I National Champions finished in overall sixth place.

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (Reston, Va.) and her own Rassing’s Lonoir, who were making their U.S. Team debut competing on the Small Tour, produced their third impressive performance of the week to finish in seventh place with a mark of 73.675%.

Small Tour combination, Kasey Perry (Orangevale, Calif.) and Diane Perry’s 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklingtgaards Dublet, were the third American competitors to go on Saturday, producing an energized test to score 73.225%, resulting in an ninth-place finish.

Chris Hickey (Wellington, Fla.) and Cecelia Stewart’s nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, Ronaldo, were the first U.S. combination to head down centerline on Saturday and performed a technically difficult Freestyle, which included three-time changes on a half circle both directions. They finished overall in 12th place on a score of 70.975%.

By Helen Murray

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