The Chronicle's newest blogger is Laura Graves, who is preparing to represent the United States for the first time at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games with Verdades. She's going to keep Chronicle readers informed about her journeys in Europe.
I have been in Europe with my horse Verdades for exactly two months now in preparation for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
To be perfectly honest, Europe was not in our plans this summer—let alone competing in the World Games! While it has felt like a long time to be away from home, the fact is that we leave for the WEG in just two days and there are moments when I turn around and wonder where the time has gone.
We have been based out of Rob van Puijenbroek's Stoeterij de Begijnhoeve in Retie, Belgium. Rob's facility is state-of-the-art with the nicest staff of any farm I have ever visited. To say we have been spoiled would be an understatement.
At the Stud Farm, we have the luxury of using one of the solariums after baths during cooler weather. My horse also enjoys daily sessions on the VitaFloor, a full-body vibration training system for the horses.
|Verdades on the VitaFloor.||Verdades in the solarium.|
I have taken part in two European CDIs, including Schindlhof (Fritzens, Austria) and the Nations' Cup at Aachen (Germany)! Today, we rode in a mock show at the farm where we brought in a judge and rode the Grand Prix test for him. All of our rides were videotaped and we later reviewed the test sheets and videos with our coaches.
While I have been working in barns and studying dressage most of my life, I have never really had the opportunity to get to know many other high performance dressage professionals. In addition to the "horsey stuff" (which I admit, still takes a full day with only one horse!), we have found some time to have a couple of team barbeques, visit the amazing city of Brussels and even indulge at a European day spa!
|Me (left) sight-seeing with Caroline Roffman |
(right) and Adrienne Lyle (center).
|A team barbeque—note the seating!|
The most exciting news for me this week is that my trainer Debbie McDonald arrived on Monday to help both Adrienne Lyle and myself! I feel a great deal of relief knowing she is here. While I am confident in myself and my horse, there is nothing like having someone who you trust completely to give you that edge (or take the edge off ;-) ).
I will do my best to take photos and keep you updated on the latest from Caen (the dressage venue for WEG).
Talk to you soon!
Laura Graves runs her training business Laura Graves Dressage out of Crossties LLC in Geneva, Fla. Graves has been quietly honing her skills for years, but burst onto the international scene after a last-minute invitation to the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions (N.J.) and then secured a U.S. team spot at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games by placing second. This is just her and Verdades' first season at the Grand Prix level.