USA Team Preparing for World Equestrian Games, Quietly Hopeful of Medals at Home Championships Opening in 3 Weeks–Laura Graves & Verdades

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Laura Graves riding Verdades in a training session with personal coach Debbie McDonald and USA team coach Robert Dover. at Havensafe Farm in Wellington, owned by Betsy Juliano, a financial supporter of Laura as well as the owner of Salvino and Horizon competed by Adrienne Lyle and actively involved and a financial supporter of U.S. equestrian programs. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Aug. 21, 2018

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The American riders on The Dutta Corp. team for the World Equestrian Games are focused on final preparations for the World Equestrian Games at home in Tryon, North Carolina opening in three weeks, with cameraderie that has already seen a return to Olympic success and quality built over years that coach Robert Dover says has produced the country’s best ever team.

Three of the four American combinations are in Wellington, Florida where personal coach Debbie McDonald and team coach Robert Dover are overseeing training before the entire squad gathers in North Carolina in two weeks for several days working together before moving into Tryon International Equestrian Center to familiarize themselves along with about 80 other combinations from around the world for the start of dressage Sept. 12.

The Americans on the Tryon team are:

Laura Graves, 31, of Geneva, Florida and Verdades, 16-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Laura and Curt Maes;

Adrienne Lyle, 33, of Ketchum, Idaho and Salvino, 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Betsy Juliano, LLC;

Kasey Perry-Glass, 30, of Wellington, Florida and Dublet, 15-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, owned by Diane Perry, and

Steffen Peters, 53, of San Diego, California, and Rosamunde, 11-year-old Rhinelander mare owned by Four Winds Farm.

The reserve is:

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, 34, Haymarket, Virginia, and Lonoir, 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, owned by Olivia and Mary Anne McPhail.

Laura Graves and Verdades closely watched by Robert Dover and Debbie McDonald and… Stanley, that Laura descibes as a “Chihauhua/terrier/mutt rescue mix” that joined her and Curt Maes, her personal and business partner after the 2015 Pan American Games. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

They know each other well–Laura, Kasey and Steffen were on the 2016 Olympic team that won the first dressage medal for the United States since 2004, have competed together at home and in Europe, the last time at the globe’s most prestigious horse show, the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany a month ago. There, the U.S. led the Nations Cup after the Grand Prix, the level that will decide the team medals in Tryon.

All but Steffen are currently based in Wellington, as are the coaches. Steffen, a four-time Olympian and who rode Ravel to earn indivdual and freestyle bronze medals at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky, is based in San Diego, California.

The Americans make no predictions about their prospects, facing a powerful German team, though not yet declared, that could include three horses and riders ranked in the top six in the world and a fourth that has made a spectacular return to competition after an injury.

But with Laura and Verdades going into the championships at No. 3 in the world when the new rankings come out Sept. 1, Adrienne and Salvino No. 17, Kasey and Dublet No. 19  and Steffen and Rosamunde No. 24 the U.S. hopes to qualify for the 30 top placed pairs to move to the Grand Prix Special then the top 15–maximum of three pairs from one country–eligible to start the freestyle.

Verdades with Laura Graves aboard being provided water by USA team coach Robert Dover. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Some of the riders are preparing or amending the music and choreography for the Freestyle performances, changes that they’re reluctant to talk about in advance in case they don’t make the Freestyle. But if they do, spectators should be prepared for memorable music and choreography

For Laura and Verdades, Normandy four years ago was their first international championship and the results were astounding having made the team after barely squeaking into the national qualifier just four months earlier–the pair placed fifth in the Freestyle. Since then, the duo have been World Cup reserve champion twice, taking 2015 Pan American Games team gold and Freestyle silver medals, then 2016 Olympic team bronze and finishing fourth in the Freestyle.

Laura Graves on Verdades at perhaps the most competitive and prestigious horse show in the world at Aachen, Germany where the pair have delivered some of their best performances. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Next: Adrienne Lyle and Salvino, Making of a USA team horse