Verdades, Gary Rockwell, Dr Hilary Clayton Inducted Into US Dressage Federation Hall of Fame

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The last competition for the USA combination of Verdades and Laura Graves, the 2019 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. The pair was the only ever American combination to become world No. 1. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 17, 2020

Verdades, the Olympic and World Games medal horse ridden by Laura Graves, retired top level international judge Gary Rockwell and Dr. Hilary Clayton, equine-biomechanics expert, have been inducted into the Roemer Foundation/U.S. Dressage Federation Hall of Fame.

Verdades, a KWPN gelding (Florett AS x Goya) now 18 years old and in retirement at Laura’s Geneva, Florida farm, became one of the most successful dressage horses in the history of the sport in the U.S.

“Diddy,” as Verdades was nicknamed, became prominent on the international stage in 2014 when Laura rode the horse to reserve U.S. championship and a place on the American team for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy. There, the duo placed fifth in the Grand Prix Freestyle.

Verdades and Laura went on to earn team gold and individual silver at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto then team bronze at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The pair claimed team and individual silver at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon that led to Laura and Verdades becoming world No. 1 in September and October that year, the only American combination ever to do so.

Verdades and Laura were reserve champions at the 2017, 2018 and 2019 World Cup Finals, the last at Gothenburg, Sweden the final competition for the partnership.

Gary Rockwell, international 5* judge, with fellow American 5* Linda Zang and Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, the FEI Judge General. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Gary Rockwell of Wellington, Florida is a FEI 5* and U.S. Equestrian Federation ‘S’ judge, officiating at Olympics and World Cup Finals in a decade as a top level international official. On his Danish Warmblood mare, Suna, he was a member of the U.S. team that took bronze at the 1994 world championships at the Hague, Netherlands.

He remains a USEF “S” judge and is a member of USDF’s so-called L program faculty, as well as an honorary instructor for the USDF instructor/trainer program. In addition to being a member of the USDF judges committee 2010-2012 and chair in 2013 he established the USDF L faculty apprentice program.

Dr. Hilary Clayton, world-renowned equine-biomechanics expert and researcher of Mason, Michigan, was the inaugural McPhail Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University.

Her research on gaits and movement, led to a revision of U.S. equestrian dressage rules to reflect how horses piaffe and pirouette, among examples of her work. Her dressage-focused research has influenced the sport from choices of arena footing to care for growing young horses, bitting, training, conditioning, and veterinary care.

Hilary is also president of Sport Horse Science, LC, which is dedicated to translating research data into practical advice for riders, trainers, and veterinarians through lectures, articles, and private consultations. She is a USDF gold, silver, and bronze medal rider.