Sandy, UT (March 20, 2017) – Laura Graves, currently ranked Number 4 in the FEI World Individual Dressage Rankings after earning two stellar scores of 80 percent in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida this winter, has added yet another well-deserved honor to her growing list of accolades. Graves has been chosen by Premier Equestrian – a leading manufacturer of world-class footing, riding arenas, and horse jumps – to receive the title of “Premier Equestrian.” This honor is reserved for individuals who not only make valuable contributions to the equestrian community, but who also embody the ideals of sportsmanship in and outside the show ring.
Graves, whose story echoes the fundamental ideals of the American dream, is no stranger to the pitfalls and obstacles that keep many from attempting to build a full-time career in the sport of dressage. When Graves decided she wanted to pursue riding professionally, she was working at a hair salon and lacked the financial resources to purchase a high-quality, trained horse. Instead, she purchased Dutch Warmblood gelding Verdades (Florett AS x Liwilarda) – a young, untrained, and temperamental wildcard – and put in years of patient, painstaking work to bring him along herself. Once Graves decided to follow her dream, there was no turning back. For her, giving up simply wasn’t an option.
Graves credits her tenacious spirit largely to her family and upbringing. “Both of my parents are small business owners, and I was taught from a very young age that you don’t give up. Our family was our team. We participated in the household because we were a team, and we didn’t get compensated for that in any way. We were very well prepared to work however hard we needed to in life to achieve the goals we set; failure is something we were never afraid of.”
As the top United States dressage pair currently and part of the U.S. Bronze Medal team from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Graves’ hard work with Verdades has obviously paid off.
Heidi Zorn, President of Premier Equestrian, was deeply impressed by both Grave’s story and character. “The thing that intrigued me about Laura from the very beginning is how she reached the top on her own. She is someone who worked really hard and had a goal, and through persistence and perseverance has obtained something many people only dream of.” Having created her own success story despite great difficulty, and with little on her side but determination, Graves is certainly representative of the true spirit of the American dream.
Even with her meteoric rise to fame, Graves maintains the importance of practicing good sportsmanship. “I was not accepted into this high performance dressage community for many years,” she said, “and I certainly haven’t had the budget to fit in. So when you have the opportunity, include everyone and make them feel like they matter. Or, in some way relate to them, whether they are having a bad ride or something terrible happens to their horse. In the end, we are all hopefully here for the same reason. Finding support within our own community is so important.”
When Graves recently had an issue with the arena base at her training facility in Geneva, Florida, Tony Judge of Olympia Footing – the preferred arena contractor for Premier Equestrian – arrived to help her out of a tough spot.
Judge described the steps he took to transform Graves’ arena: “We analyzed her base and found it needed an aggressive slope to drain, so we decided on a 1% slope. We installed an equestrian base material and graded it with our laser-guided machine. We compacted the base to 95% and also defined the borders of her arena. Then, we made a custom blend of Silica Sand with the textile-footing additives Premier ProTex® and ArenaAid from Premier Equestrian. With precision depth and mixing capabilities, we were able to ensure the right amount of cushion and rebound for Laura to work her horses.”
Premier Equestrian, with footing products that are formulated with biomechanics and injury prevention in mind, ensures that Graves has a top-of-the line surface for riding. “Graves has a rock star horse, and has to do everything in her power to preserve him as long as she possibly can,” confirmed Zorn. “The horse is every bit a high-end athlete as are our basketball and football stars. Those industries make ideal surfaces to lessen injuries, and that’s what Premier Equestrian is doing – trying to get everyone on ideal surfaces to lessen injuries and prolong careers.
Now the official footing supplier of US Equestrian and longtime supporter of the iconic Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Premier Equestrian is proud to recognize Graves and her outstanding contributions to the sport of dressage, and looks forward to watching the development of her prestigious career. For more information about the Premier Equestrian Award or to request a free catalog, a free arena footing sample, or a free arena sand analysis, please call (800) 611-6109) or visit www.PremierEquestrian.com.