Wellington, FL - The darling of U.S. dressage, 27-year-old Laura Graves, has returned to centerline at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and she’s got her mojo back. Graves has been away from competition this winter season in Wellington, but her first-place finish in the Grand Prix Freestyle with a 78.875 percent and her second place in the Grand Prix with a 72.2 percent during the festival’s Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W proved she’s a formidable contender. To reward her tenacity, Custom Saddlery named her winner of the Custom Saddlery MVR (Most Valuable Rider) Award. Graves and her own 13-year old KWPN gelding Verdades (Florett AS-Liwilarda, Goya) whom she calls “Diddy”, placed fifth overall with a 82.036 percent in the Grand Prix Freestyle for Team USA in August at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France.
She’s since been working on perfecting small things on Diddy and stayed away from competition, since she and her coach, Debbie McDonald, prefer not to school and show at the same time. Obviously, the pieces of the puzzle fit into place and she prevailed in the freestyle on a hot, humid evening. Although she is based in Geneva, Florida, near Orlando, she said the heat definitely played a factor in her test— but their training brought them through.
“I needed to get back in the groove and into the whole routine of putting my test together,” she said. “We’ve been training really hard, and the training’s been going well. Even though we were so ‘en pointe’ when we finished our season last year, it takes a couple rounds to get the feel back.”
Graves hopes to participate in the Reem Acra World Cup of Dressage in Las Vegas in April and then the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, in July. Graves was honored to receive the MVP Award from Custom Saddlery, adding that the award’s value of good sportsmanship is vital to competing in dressage.
“When you have been doing this for awhile, you understand pretty quickly that anything can happen at any time,” she explained. “Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you’re the one who’s down and out. We all come back the next day to try harder and if we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be in this sport. I love what I do!”
Just like Graves, Custom Saddlery loves what it does: producing the best saddles on the market. In fact, Custom saddles are the Official Saddles of the U.S. Dressage Team through the 2016 Olympics. The people at Custom Saddlery are committed to dressage and happily play a part in making the winter dressage circuit possible by sponsoring the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and supporting riders through their MVR Award. Winners of the award receive a Most Valuable Rider ribbon and a Custom Saddlery saddle pad.
Based out of Aiken, South Carolina, Custom Saddlery is the go-to saddle maker for riders around the world and is the Official Saddle of the U.S. Dressage Team through the 2016 Olympics. The company offers twenty-two innovative, one-of-a-kind dressage saddles and offers professional fitting services and custom saddle accessories.
To learn more about Custom Saddlery and what it can do for you, visit www.mysaddle.com or call 1-800-235-3865.