USA Olympic Team Performs Dress Rehearsal Before Heading to Rio Games

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Steffen Peters on Legolas competing in Europe this month. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters on Legolas competing in Europe this month. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 27, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The United States Olympic dressage team has performed a full dress rehearsal at their European base as final preparations are underway for the four competition and one reserve horses to fly to Rio de Janeiro next Monday.

Team riders Allison Brock, Laura Graves and Kasey Perry-Glass, all Olympic rookies, and Steffen Peters, heading to his fourth Games, as well as Shelly Francis as reserve are upbeat and optimistic about returning to the medals podium after more than half a year of qualifying at home and in Europe to be ready for dressage competition Aug. 8-15.

The four team riders gave their opinions to dressage-news.com as they were packing at Retie, Belgium where they have been based for the past two months preparing for the Olympics where the United States last won a medal, team bronze, in 2004.

“All of us, wish we could go to Rio tomorrow,” said Steffen, 51, of San Diego, California. “We are ready.”

Steffen, who will compete Legolas, a 14-year-old Westfalen gelding owned by Four Winds Farm and ranked No. 7 in the world, was on the U.S.bronze medal team in 1996 and rode at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

“The excitement about getting a chance to represent your country has not changed since 1996,” he said. It doesn’t matter in how many Games one has competed, entering the dressage arena at the Olympic Games is always incredibly special.

“We can’t wait.”

Allison Brock and Rosevelt in Europe. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Allison Brock and Rosevelt in Europe. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Allison Brock, 36, of Wellington, Florida will ride Rosevelt, 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Claudine and Fritz Kundrun on her first championship team and ranked 33rd in the world.

“I am prepared, excited and anxious,” Ali said. “I think I’ll feel better when we get to the venue and the horses have arrived safely.

“I think if Team USA is on our A game we are definitely podium contenders. We’ll take it one day at a time and see how the Games unfold!”

Laura Graves on Verdades. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves on Verdades. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Laura Graves, 28, of Geneva, Florida is ranked 11th in the world on her Verdades, 14-year-old KWPN gelding that she rode at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, the 2015 World Cup Final and won team gold and individual silver at the Pan American Games last year as well as the U.S. Grand Prix championship.

“We have our minds consumed right now with the details of packing,” Laura said. “I feel very prepared and also excited. I’m sure I will have more feelings when we arrive in Rio.

“Right now I am just hoping for a safe and eventless trip for athletes and horses. Our horses are looking good and fit. Anything can happen!”

Kasey Perry-Glass riding Dublet. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kasey Perry-Glass riding Dublet. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kasey Perry Glass, also 28 years old but youngest team member by almost three months, will ride Dublet, 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Diane Perry, and ranked 21sr in the world.

“I am EXTREMELY excited and anxious for Rio!” texted Kasey who moved to Wellington to train with Debbie McDonald, also Laura’s coach, and compete at the winter long Global Dressage Festival.

“Each day I’m feeling more prepared and confident. I am confident all my teammates are striving to do the best they can! I believe this team can do great things! We are taking it one day at a time and looking towards that podium! Go TEAM USA!”

The reserve is Shelly Francis, 57, of Loxahatchee, Florida and Doktor, 13-year-old Oldenbur gelding owned by Patricia Stempel. The 1998 World Equestrian Games rider and her horse will fly with the team to Rio.