Top U.S. dressage rider Laura Graves announced on Jan. 8 that her Olympic and World Equestrian Games mount Verdades has retired.
“It is with both a heavy heart and a grateful mind that today, I announce the retirement of my great friend, Diddy,” Graves wrote on Facebook about the horse she co-owns with Curt Maes. “I’ve always promised that I would do my best to listen and make the right choice for him when this time came. It became clear in recent weeks that he was not going to be able to return to his usual top form in 2020.”
Graves purchased the now 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Florett AS—Liwilarda, Goya) as a yearling and brought him through the levels. They were thrust into the spotlight when they took second in the 2014 The Dutta Corp./USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championships (New Jersey) and earned a spot on the shortlist for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Dressage Team. In France they were the top-ranked U.S. pair, finishing fifth in the Grand Prix freestyle.
After that Graves and “Diddy” became stalwarts of the U.S. team. In 2015 they earned team gold and individual silver at the Pan American Games (Toronto), and they led the U.S. team to bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games (Brazil) and finished fourth individually. In what would be their final team championship, they earned team and individual silver at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina).
In 2017, they won the Grand Prix Special at the CHIO Aachen (Germany), becoming only the fourth U.S. pair to win there, and were the World No. 1 on the FEI Dressage Rankings in October 2018. They competed in four FEI World Cup Finals, taking second from 2017-2019 and finishing just off the podium in fourth in 2015. The 2019 final in Gothenburg, Sweden, was the last time Diddy went down centerline.
“This horse not only achieved every goal we ever set, but he fulfilled dreams that I never knew I had,” Graves wrote. “Not always the easiest, it was his generous heart and incredible sense of loyalty that made him one of a kind. Every time I sit in his saddle, I continue to feel honored and humble that he allowed me to be his person. We have travelled the world together, many times over and cut our teeth at some the world’s greatest competitions.”