Wellington, FL - Not only have Laura Graves and Verdades won every Grand Prix and Freestyle class they have entered so far this season at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, but they have smashed the competition with stunning performances and record-breaking scores. The United States’ first and FEI fourth ranked dressage combination, Graves and Verdades have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to conquer challenges and have been rewarded with CDI5* and CDIW Grand Prix Freestyle blue ribbons. Adding to their superior resume, Adequan Global Dressage Festival anchor sponsor and go-to store for equestrians, The Horse of Course, Inc. named Graves and Verdades their signature High Score Award winners for achieving the highest marks of weeks five and eight.
Known for bringing high-quality tack, fashionable attire and horse care supplies to competitions across the country, The Horse of Course presents the High Score Award at it’s mobile boutique on the Adequan Global Dressage Festival grounds in Wellington, Florida. Beth Haist, CEO of The Horse of Course, twice presented Graves and Verdades with the High Score Award to commemorate their FEI Grand Prix week five 79.543 percent and week eight 78.02 percent. Haist congratulated Graves and Verdades by decorating them in a champion ribbon and embroidered cooler.
This season, Graves and Verdades have challenged themselves with higher degrees of difficulty in a completely new freestyle routine designed with the FEI floor plan creator and music arranged by Terry Gallo. The Olympic pair has been testing portions of their fresh choreography at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival as they gear up to compete at the FEI World Cup Finals on April 11-15 in Paris, France. The reception has been clearly in their favor as the pair received jaw-dropping scores of 84.375 percent and 84.975 percent for their freestyles during weeks five and eight respectively.
When asked to recount her week five win, Graves reflected that, “The highlight for sure was debuting my new freestyle. It’s always a little nerve wracking, not because I am riding a new floor plan, but because people become so attached to the old one. I was waiting for the backlash and I am lucky that everyone has been so supportive. It’s also hard for me to let go as I really loved the choreography of my last freestyle, it was beautiful.”
By utilizing the FEI floor plan creator, Graves has been able to play with the point system to increase her degree of difficulty. “Even though my old freestyle looked more difficult and people could appreciate the difficulty of it, it was risky. The degree of difficulty even if I did it well is not as high as my new choreography oddly enough,” she said.
Graves and her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding known to his adoring fans as “Diddy” have been a dynamic duo since she purchased the horse at only six months old. “Diddy still acts like he is 10. When he was 10, he acted like he was four,” she jokes. “We’ve completely done everything together. I broke this horse and he broke me a couple times!”
Their connection is evident not only when she is in the saddle, but also on the ground as Graves is her own groom, primarily taking care of Diddy herself. Acknowledging their special partnership, Graves said, “We are very best friends, he has been the most stable thing in my life. I’ve always thought this horse was special and it was a long time before the world accepted him for who he was.”
“Everyone is looking for a horse that is bred in a way that their body and mind make the work easy. That’s what it feels like every day to ride him. Yes, he has strengths and where he has a weakness, his mind and work ethic are so strong that at least he tries. It’s nice for me that the world appreciates him the way that I do,” Graves said.
Haist and The Horse of Course congratulate Graves and Verdades for their partnership, determination and tactical approach in the show ring, and enjoy supporting riders of all levels as they work toward their equestrian goals. A strong supporter of the dressage community, The Horse of Course has honored talented combinations with the High Score Award year after year. “We are always thrilled participate in such a celebrated show series and connect fellow dressage riders with quality products,” Haist said.
The Horse of Course has helped riders find the tools they need to succeed in the saddle at their full-service mobile tack shop located outside of the international warm-up arena at the AGDF. The Horse of Course not only provides fashionable attire and innovative new products, but they also offer expert tack, bit and saddle fitting services on-site. Based in Claremore, Oklahoma, The Horse of Course has two mobile boutiques that travel to top dressage shows throughout the USA carrying the latest and greatest in equestrian fashion. Some of their top brands include KEP Italia, Style Stock, Micklem, EGO7, euro-star, Passier, Neue Schule, Grand Prix and Pikeur. For more information on the company’s selection of merchandise, head to The Horse of Course mobile tack-shop in Wellington, Florida now through April, or shop online at www.thehorseofcourse.com.