Interview Laura Graves – The Rio surprise

26. Oct 16 | 14:37 | By | Category: INTERNATIONAL NEWS, interviews

26  oct 2016

 

There were very few people who thought the USA could catch an Olympic medal. And there were also few who thought Laura Graves and her horse Verdades could be individual 4th. But all that happened and Laura Graves couldn´t be more happy with that. In the interview she talks about Rio, about her wonderful horse Verdades and why she would never give him away for getting Valegro instead…

You came home from Rio with a bronze medal and a fourth place in the individual. How do you feel about all that?

It was a dream come true just to make the Olympic Team and ride down that centerline. To have that amazing team camaraderie was a memory I will cherish for life. It was a very proud moment for me as a trainer.

I think winning the bronze medal must have been very moving for the whole team because everyone talked about Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands and then the US-team caught the bronze. How did you all experience that?

We (Team USA) knew that we could make it happen. Our horses were very competitive as far as quality compared to the other top countries. But, we also knew, we would have to ride our butts off. No one shows up to the Olympics unprepared or ready to give up any points. The most special moment for me was standing on the podium with my teammates. I remember the first medal being placed on Ali Brocks neck and it brought tears to my eyes.

How did you experience Verdades performances in Rio?

I could not have been more pleased with my horse. He is seriously the smartest horse in the world. To top it off, he loves his job and is incredibly honest in the competition arena. He had been training exceptionally well leading up to Rio and I knew if we could stay on form, he would show off. And he did. He let me pilot him to three personal best scores in every single test. He never lets me down.

How did you create that amazing freestyle you showed in Rio?

I choreographed the freestyle myself and it has been roughly the same since 2014. I’ve just learned what works and how to make the best presentation. Because he is so honest, it allows me to add a great degree of difficulty. The music this year was done especially for Verdades in Rio by Terry Gallo. It is pulled from the soundtrack of Rudy, a film about an underdog (named Rudy) whos lifes ambition is to play football at Notre Dame. It is an inspiring story about making dreams come true.

Did you have time in Rio to see something aside from Deodoro´s arenas?

Though I did spend most of my time in the stables, we did get out for a day to see Christ the Redeemer.

How did you experience the atmosphere in Rio? What did you like and dislike about the games?

There was nothing to dislike about the games. Everything for us athletes (horses included) was perfect.

What will be up next for you and Verdades? Will he have some rest now? Will you maybe also take a break?

Diddy is definitley on a break! He has been working very hard since last December. Now I will pull his shoes and he will spend lots of time in the paddock. Of course he loves attention, so I continue to hack him a few days per week but I don’t make him wear a saddle. I now have many responsibilites to get back to since I was away all summer. I have other horses to ride and farm projects. We do however, have our very first vacation

Are there some promising youngsters you´re riding at the moment?

I am always looking for my next star. But they have some big (literally) shoes to fill. It makes me very picky but I know I need to think about my future. I have a 2.5 year old gelding who I will start working with this winter.

Looking at Valegro in Rio – is that a perfect dressage horse everyone would like to ride? Because our ride times were so close, I actually didnt get to watch any of Valegro’s rides. I think people always see a great horse and think, “I would love to ride that one!” But you don’t really know until you sit on it. It is like a marriage, they don’t all work! While it would be interesting to see what the other top horses feel like, I wouldn’t trade my horse for the world.

What are the most important characteristics a dressage horse needs in your opinion?

The most important characteristic for a dressage horse is a work ethic. He has to want to learn. If you can combine that with three good (pure) gaits, you can go a long way.

Will you be back in Europe riding someday so European horsesport fans would also have the chance to see you ride?

We will see where this sport takes me. Next year, the World Cup is in Omaha, so Europe may not be in the cards. But the level of competition in Europe is always so high, we would love the opportunity to compete there again.

Interview: Alexandra Koch


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