USA Dressage Team “Ready to Go” at World Games Starting Monday

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Laura Graves familiarizing on Verdades with the competition arena at the World Equestrian Games. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves familiarizing on Verdades with the competition arena at the World Equestrian Games. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

CAEN, France, Aug. 24, 2014–The United States dressage team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games declared itself “ready to go” for the Nations Cup that begins Monday, displaying a quiet confidence of performing well against the best horses and riders in this equestrian extravaganza held once every four years.

“It’s exciting to see that the United States has two combinations that are capable of achieving more than 75 per cent,” said Steffen Peters referring to Laura Graves on Verdades and himself on Legolas.

Calecto V ridden by Tina Konyot and Wizard with Adrienne Lyle have been looking great since the European competitions over the past two months.

“All our horses have improved in training,” he said.

“Everybody is ready to go, just like the Olympics.”

Steffen Peters on Legolas with trainer Johann Hinnemann watching. © 2014 Ken Braddick/Dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters on Legolas with trainer Johann Hinnemann watching. © 2014 Ken Braddick/Dressage-news.com

The complete American team:

–Steffen Peters, 49, of San Diego, California, and Legolas, 12-year-old Westfalen gelding (Laomedon x Florestan II), owned by Akiko Yamazaki’s and Jerry Yang’s Four Winds Farm;

–Laura Graves, 27, of Geneva, Florida, on her own Verdades, 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Florett AS x Goya);

–Tina Konyot, 52, of Palm City, Florida, on her own Calecto V, 16-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II x Rastell), and

–Adrienne Lyle, 29, of Ketchum, Idaho, and Wizard, 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Weltmeyer x Classiker) owned by Peggy Thomas.

The U.S. had a favorable draw and goes 10th in the team competition.

Tina and Calecto lead off for the U.S. with Adrienne and Wizard also riding on the first day.

Laura and Verdades will ride Tuesday morning and Steffen and Legolas will be the anchor.

Since arriving in Europe, Laura Graves said, people have been asking her whether she was excited to be going to her first world championship and until arriving at the venue was not. Then, she saw the banners, took part in the opening ceremony and saw lots of American flags

“It makes you feel really patriotic and really excited to be here,” she said.

“When you think of these things as a kid, you think it will be fireworks, ribbons and money. An explosion.

“It actually feels like a part of the journey, a progression, like the next step.

“As exciting as it is to be here, it just feels like we are where we should be.”

Will she be nervous?

“I’ll probably be nervous,” she said, “but it honestly depends on how the horse is. If he’s cool I’ll be cool. If he’s worried I’ll naturally have to deal with it.

“He feels great. In this weather (cool) he walks on the buckle and we just meander around. Then I pick up the reins and he’s hot to trot.”

 

Adrienne Lyle working Wizard in the competition arena before the Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Adrienne Lyle working Wizard in the competition arena before the Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Adrienne Lyle said that after the Olympics where she rode Wizard as an individual for the United States, “I thought, ‘Holy, cow. I did that?’

“You have to keep yourself from too much star gazing,” was the way she put it.

These World Games are just as special as going to the Olympics, but it is different.

“It’s hard to get to championships,” she said, “it’s harder to stay at that level. It’s a new learning game, it’s always quite a journey.

Adrienne said she tries not to be nervous and Wizard “usually keeps me so focused on him I don’t have the option to think of other things. Even if you have nerves before getting in the saddle, that seems to take care of itself.”

Tina Konyot preparing Calecto V at Normandy for their second World Equestrian Games. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Tina Konyot preparing Calecto V at Normandy for their second World Equestrian Games. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Tina Konyot, who rode Calecto on the U.S. team at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky and the Olympics in London in 2012, “said it’s so exciting to be here as a member of the three-plus club,” referring to the handful of combinations that have competed at two world championships and an Olympics.

It’s great to be here for our last big hurrah.”

Both Adrienne Lyle and Laura Graves are coached by Debbie McDonald, who rode Brentina in two Olympics and two World Games.

The pair telephoned Debbie at the last minute–2 a.m. in Hailey, Idaho where Debbie was at River Grove Farm– and asked her to be at these Games to help in their final preparations.

Debbie’s trip means she will miss celebrating her 60th birthday on Wednesday with her husband, Bob, at home.

The United States dressage squad wearing their new team outfits. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The United States dressage squad wearing their new team outfits. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

U.S. team riders have been provided specially designed apparel including competition jacket, breeches, soft shell jacket, baseball cap, polo shirt, and Gore-Tex rain jacket. The apparel will feature a distinctive Hermès saddle nail incorporating the USEF mark.

Hermès became the title sponsor of the U.S. jumping team in February.

“The USEF is pleased to welcome Hermès as the Official Technical Riding Apparel Supplier of the U.S. Equestrian Teams,” federation president Chrystine Tauber said,. “With Hermès’ attention to detail in the construction of its luxury products, we could not think of a better partner, and look forward to its continued support of the USEF.”

Robert B. Chavez, President and CEO Hermès USA, said: “Committed as we are to making high quality performance products for horse and rider, Hermès is honored to be chosen by USEF as official supplier of technical apparel for the U.S. Equestrian teams. Competition at the highest level provides the ultimate test for our products, as well as an opportunity for Hermès to support USEF in nurturing achievement in equestrian sport.”