Lehua Custer and F.J. Ramzes have been awarded the 2019 Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize of $25,000 for what The Dressage Foundation credited the rider’s talent and commitment to excel at international dressage.
Lehua, 39 years old originally from Hawaii and now living in California, is a U.S. Dressage Federation Certified Instructor/Trainer and learner judge graduate. She was an assistant to Olympian Hilda Gurney for 10 years. She operates Lehua Custer Dressage at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.
F.J. Ramzes, is a nine-year-old KWPN gelding (Juventus x Rampal) bred by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York that was bought by Wendy Sasser as a yearling as her future competition horse. She later turned over the ride to Lehua for further development. Lehua and Ramzes, competing at national small tour, were named to the US Equestrian Federation’s Dressage Development Program in 2018.
The pair are currently in Wellington, Florida working with U.S. team coach Debbie McDonald.
The training with Debbie, she said, “is going so great that I plan to use the grant money to continue working with Debbie. The goal at this point is to develop into a team that is solid enough to compete internationally. I am also grateful for the support from Ramzes owner, Wendy Sasser, as well as my clients at home who are extremely patient and understanding. Many thanks to everyone at The Dressage Foundation and Carol Lavell for believing in us.”
The Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize Fund was established in 2009 in special remembrance of Carol’s mother, May Cadwgan, and in honor of her father, Gordon Cadwgan. The Prize Fund has made 13 awards totaling $325,000 in support of U.S. high performance teams
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 10, 2019–Laura Graves and Verdades, America’s top partnership, won the the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix Thursday in their first outing since double silver-medal pewrformances at the Tryon World Equestrian Games last September.
Laura and the Verdades that officially turned 17 years old 10 days ago, scored 80.065 per cent, for the highest score at the start of a competition year and beginning the combination’s sixth year at at Big Tour and in the first international dressage event of 2019.
Shelly Francis of the United States and Danilo placed second on 72.478 per cent and Sweden’s seven-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén on Don Aurellio third on 71.587 per cent.
Laura, of the Orlando area community of Geneva, Florida and the KWPN gelding is seeking a start at the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April hoping to improve on two runner-up finishes to world No. 1 and double World Cup championship pair Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD.
Michael Klimke on Royal Dancer won the CDI3* Grand Prix for the Special on a score of 68.435 per cent, the first Big Tour victory for the German rider and the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding that began CDI Grand Prix in Wellington two years ago.
Canada’s Jill Irving on Arthur was second on 67.130 per cent and Bent Jensen, former Danish team rider who has long lived in the United States and rides under the Stars ‘n’ Stripes, on Chance in third on 66.167 per cent.
There were some big differences in the scores for Laura and Verdades, Olympic team bronze medalists, Pan American Games team gold and individual silver as well as the WEG and World Cup achievements.
Raphael Saleh at “H” awarded the pair 82.826 per cent, Carlos Lopes of Portugal and Peter Storr of Great Britain at least 80 per cent with Thomas Lang of Austria at “C” the lowest at 77.500 per cent and Hans Christian Matthiesen of Denmark at 79.783 per cent. However, three judges awarded the duo 9s for rider position, the only remaining collective mark, and one gave 9.5.
“I am relieved,” said Laura, smiling, after the ride.
“That’s always a good way to put the first show into perspective after we haven’t been out since the WEG was called off before the freestyle so it’s been quite a bit since we’ve been in the arena. It always feels like okay, we still know what we’re doing.
“He obviously still has a ton of gas in the tank so that’s also a relief. I know everyone is questioning his age and things like this, but he proves that he’s seriously in no form to be laid up in the barn yet. I’m really, really excited with how today went.”
The biggest mistake, she said, came in the zig zag where she blamed herself for poking Verdades on five, but the horse said, ‘Mom, you’ve got to wait for six.’ And so I was really lucky that he saved me there.
“…my favorite part was when I miscounted and he kept me on track. That’s hands-down something you can’t ask from a horse you don’t know. That was something this horse just gave me for free today because he’s so generous. That was my favorite part. I said, ‘Oops my leg came on before I even had a chance to think,’ and he said, ‘One more!’ That makes me laugh a little bit at him.
Three of the five judges awarded eight for the zig zag, one 7.5 and one six.
The Freestyle that Laura and “Diddy,” as she calls Verdades, will perform Friday night under lights will be the first musical performance since the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany in July as the freestyle at the Tryon WEG was cancelled because of weather concerns.
“This atmosphere is so intense, he gets more electric here than he does at any other huge venue in the world; any other World Cup it doesn’t matter,” she said. “Friday night under the lights is like max for us. So that’s really nothing you can prepare for.”
For the first time, three results instead of two are required to qualify for one of the two places allocated to the North American League at the World Cup Final, the only annual global dressage championship. This is the first of four weeks of qualifiers.
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 9, 2018–World No. 1 Isabell Werth, the most decorated Olympic equestrian in history, will give a master class at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival on Thursday, Feb. 7, during the $216,700 CDI5* week.
Isabell, who has a passion for developing her horses from youngsters, is No. 1 with Weihegold OLD, 2017 and 2018 World Cup champion, No. 3 on Bella Rose that was the star of last September’s Tryon World Equestrian Games and No. 4 on Emilio.
She earned her first Olympic gold medal at the age of 23 and 26 years later the rider has taken the total to 10–six gold and four silver–as well 11 world championship medals including team and individual gold at Tryon, 21 European Championship medals and four World Cup titles.
Isabell has a son, Frederik, born in 2010.
In addition to her top three horses (Weihegold is a 14-year-old Oldenburg mare, Bella Rose is 15-year-old Westfalen mare and Emilio is 13-year-old Westfalen gelding), she plans to move Belantis, a gray 10-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, up to Grand Prix in 2019 and has the eight-year-old mare, Superb, to bring on this year.
Carl Hester of Great Britain hosted the first Global master class, in 2018 that was a big success.
Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes the Global circuit at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center said that times and ticket prices are expected to be announced within the next week.
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 6, 2018–Electronic, paperless scoring for all international classes to provide results faster and state of the art scoreboard presentation is being implemented for all international competitions at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival that begins Wednesday.
The move to virtually complete digital back office operation will be used in all seven CDIs of four World Cup qualifiers, a CDI5*, CDI4* and CDIO3* Nations Cup and the international range of small and medium tour classes, amateurs, youth and young horse divisions, and comes after trials at a handful of European competitions last year.
The impact, according to the organizers, will enhance the experience of spectators as well as riders and owners.
The Global organization and the Munich-based Black Horse company that has spearheaded software development for dressage and teamed up with SAP on spectator judging is bringing the new applications in an effort to reduce what up to now has been paper-based and time-consuming management, as well as delays in providing results to fans in the stands.
For the first time at an American dressage show, movement-by-movement scoring by all judges for rides will be available that, organizers say, will improve transparency and make it easier for riders and owners to conduct their own analyses.
Thomas Baur, the Global sport director, worked with GDF show secretary Monica Fitzgerald and Black Horse’s Daniel Göhlen to bring the changes to Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex where GDF has been staged since its creation in 2012.
Global, an offshoot of the Winter Equestrian Festival celebrating its 40th birthday this year as the world’s largest hunter/jumper show, has been the major impetus for dressage in the Americas in recent years.
This year, The Dutta Corp., the GDF/WEF official air shipper, estimated that about one-third of the more than 700 horses coming from Europe for the Florida circuit are for dressage.
Among the highlights of this year’s Global circuit are:
–America’s Laura Graves on her Verdades seeking to qualify for the pair’s fourth World Cup Final. The combination that became the first in history from the U.S. to top the global rankings and now stand at No. 2 plans to go to Gothenburg, Sweden in April to challenge German superstar Isabell Werth for the freestyle championship that she has twice been runner-up on Verdades, now 17 years old;
–Several nations qualifying horses and riders for the Pan American Games, held once very four years and this year in Lima, Peru will qualify teams from two nations for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The U.S. with its silver medal team at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon last September already has a start in Tokyo, but Brazil, Canada, Mexico and others do not, and
–A new Developing Prix St. Georges as one of eight national qualifying competitions in a Future Stars Performance series patterned after the German Nürnberger Burg-Pokal for seven to nine-year-old small tour horses. The final of the top two in each qualifier will be staged in the Global’s international arena with $10,000 in prize money.
The electronic, paperless results is being introduced after trials at CDIs in Achleiten, Austria; Leudelange, Luxembourg and Cappeln, Germany last summer.
Instead of paper scoring sheets, marks for every movement will be entered on an iPad.
The scores for each movement will be displayed on monitors in the VIP pavilion.
As soon as approved by each judge, the scores will be displayed on the arena scoreboard, typically before the horse and rider have left the arena.
Judges’ remarks can be added and amended after the scores have been posted, emailed to the rider but not available at this stage to others such as the media.
And not previously available at shows in the Americas, the complete movement-by-movement result sheets for every ride will be available at the end of the class. This is available at some European shows.
Spectator judging, as it has in the past, will also be used in Wellington.
The scoreboard presentation has not yet been decided but under consideration for the Friday night Grand Prix Freestyle is a brief introductory video of each competitor as the pair ride around the arena.
However, brief interviews with the riders immediately after each ride as occurred at London Olympia last month and has been for many years at Stuttgart, Germany is unlikely.
Posting of the scores with a photo of each judge is also under consideration.
OCALA, Florida, Jan. 7, 2019–A World Equestrian Center with a main stadium surrounded by a luxury hotel, four indoor and 17 outdoor arenas under construction opened for business Monday with the first horse shows to be staged in two years.
The WEC on 3,000 acres/1,214 Ha with climate-controlled stab1ing for 1,500 horse stalls plans to be available for a variety of competitions including dressage and hunter/jumper shows, and announced it will seek U.S. Equestrian Federation and International Equestrian Federation (FEI) dates.
The new show grounds are part of the corporation operating the World Equestrian Center of four indoor climate-controlled indoor arenas and five outdoors in Wilmington, Ohio that is the largest of its type in the Americas. It has scheduled 24 shows from December, 2018 through October, 2019.
The Ocala WEC is offering real estate lots of one to three acres and a requirement to join the adjacent Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club.
The new WEC in Ocala adds to an increasingly crowded winter equestrian show lineup in Florida with the companion Global Dressage and Winter Equestrian Festivals of 12 weeks of dressage and hunter/jumper events; The Palm Beach Masters that will host a jumping Nations Cup and a World Cup at Deeridge and other events but currently no dressage in Wellington, White Fences dressage in neighboring Loxahatchee and the long established HITS hunter/jumper winter-long show season in Ocala as well as other smaller venues.
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 6, 2019–Benjamin Ebeling has spent most of the 19 years of his life in a family immersed in dressage with his father riding in the Olympics for the United States and his mother a horse owner and running the barn as a successful business in Southern California.
A major goal for Ben this year is to make American Young Rider and possibly Under-25 squads to compete in Europe for the second summer on his two dressage horses, he told dressage-news.com in the first of a “Focus on Youth” monthly series presented by Back on Track.
But he admits with the enthusiasm he displays for most of his life he prefers jumping.
Ben took time out between two winning competition rides at a national show at the Global Dressage Festival grounds to jump a clear 1.25-meter round at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s International Arena and place sixth after the jumpoff.
And he hopes to compete as a Young Rider in jumping at the North American Youth Championships, the continental championsips where he has been successful in dressage, winning team gold as a junior in 2017.
Ben is in Wellington with his parents, Amy and Jan Ebeling, taking a break as a freshman majoring in business at Carnegie-Mellon University, one of the most highly rated private research institutes in the world and located in Pittsburgh. It’s his first experience of snowy winters, spending every previous winter in either Southern California or South Florida, both best known for perpetual summers.
He first started riding when six or seven years old when he started going out to the arena to watch his German-born father ride at the family facility, The Acres, in Moorpark, California, about 47 miles/76 km north of downtown Los Angeles.
“My parents never forced me into the riding business or even into riding sport,” he recalled. “I said to my mom one day, ‘I want to start riding’.”
Over the years, he graduated to training with David O’Brien while in Wellington and 2008 U.S. Olympic team gold medal rider Will Simpson in California for jumping.
For dressage, he works with Germany’s Christoph Koschel and his father, Jan, who was on the 2003 Pan American Games gold medal team, in four World Cup Finals and on the mare Rafalca at the 2012 London Olympics. Ownership of the mare by a small group of his mother, Amy, Beth Meyer and Ann Romney, the wife of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, made Rafalca and Jan a global celebrity couple.
“My dressage training has really helped in my jumping,” he said, “so that’s why I continue to do dressage.”
“I found doing a lot of pirouette work and learning how to engage the hind quarters in the collection really helps when you need to pop over a high vertical. It’s the same sort of collection, the same contact, especially in an extended canter then bringing them back lightly and on your aids instead of having to pull them back. I found that helps a lot. It keeps a horse more focused on the jump rather than on the rider on his back.”
Behlinger has been his main dressage mount, including the 2018 European Young Rider tour competing at the Hagen, Germany Nations Cup as well as Leudelange in Luxembourg and Deauville, France.
At the frst national show of 2019 at Wellington, Ben and his father had a side bet of $10 as to who would place higher in the Intermediate 1–Ben on Behlinger or Jan on Blenheim. Ben got odds of 3-to-1–Jan is “three times my age not to mention he has been to the Olympics.”
“Just to be in the same class with my dad on a horse I trained, Behlinger, it’s just amazing,” Ben said.
Jan on Blenheim won.
However, on Illuster Van De Kampert a new partner in dressage for Ben and owned with Sascha Cutter, he competed twice, winning both classes. In addition to his father, he has been working with David Marcus, a Canadian Olympian based in Wellington, who had been training the Belgian Warmblood gelding now 11 years old.
At Carnegie-Mellon he is considering a minor in political science or machine learning (artificial intelligence).
Of the seemingly disparate choices, he replied: “I get my love of political science from my dad’s sponsors (the Romneys) and love for machine learning from my great grandfather who started a company called Teledyne, very science oriented.” (Teledyne was founded in California and is an advanced technology company engaged in a wide range of industries from defense to pharmaceuticals.)
Horses aren’t his only passions.
Ben loves building cars and built his own 1967 Ford Mustang, an icon of American autos, when he was 16.
Ben is also a fan of American football. (For NFL fans, he’s a supporter this year of the Kansas City Chiefs that finished the regular season with 12 wins and four losses and meet the Indianapolis Colts in next weekend’s AFC playoffs.)
“I think the best thing about a business degree for me is that it teaches you how to run a business in horses,” Ben said. “I’ve grown up helping my mom and seeing how she runs her own business so I’ve gotten a lot of experience with that. My mom is really good at managing a barn, managing horses, because that’s about 90 per cent of the horse business right there.”
“My dream in life is to have a horse-oriented business and ride horses as my job, just like my father. Following in his footsteps would be the best job in the world for me.
“My mom and dad have been amazing role models for me. The way they carry themselves has really taught me a lot so in that aspect they are still my teachers. I love being around them and have missed them so much in college.”
He expects to return to California after college to work with his father while deciding on a longer term career path.
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Jan. 3, 2019–A lawsuit alleging a horse deal fraud by 2010 FEI “Rising Star” Caroline Roffman, husband Benjamin Meredith and Richard Rockefeller-Silvia has been amended to include Stuart Roffman, Caroline’s father, who was accused in a court filing of seeking to “torpedo” a settlement.
The amended lawsuit to include Stuart Roffman was filed by Ruth A. Green in Palm Beach County Circuit Court alleging that a verbal agreement was made with Caroline Roffman and Benjamin Meredith to pay her $450,000 plus 20 per cent of the sale price of the horse in exchange for not filing a lawsuit “or otherwise subject them to public scrutiny.”
Instead, the suit alleged, Stuart Roffman convinced his daughter and son-in-law to back out of the agreement–“in fact, he tried to torpedo the deal and to negotiate different terms directly with plaintiff via text message.”
A civil suit filed by Ruth Green of Palm Beach last April alleges she was defrauded of $400,000 in the purchase of a show jumper for Benjamin Meredith, who competes as an Australian. The suit alleges she invested in a jumper horse after the sale of a dressage horse in which Caroline Roffman, 30, Benjamin Meredith, 35, both of Wellington, Florida, and Rick Rockefeller-Silvia, 34, were all involved in what was alleged to be a fraudulent scheme. The court was told that Rick Rockefeller-Silvia had not responded to recent court-authorized notices and his whereabouts was unknown.
The amended lawsuit also alleges Caroline Roffman “intentionally hid” from Ruth Green that she was being sued by Alice Tarjan of Frenchtown, New Jersey for alleged fraud in the sale of a horse. That suit was settled in March, 2018. Settlement terms were sealed by the court.
Ruth Green alleged the three defendants secured an investment from her of $400,000 in a horse named Lebron to be bought from the Netherlands for $900,000. Rick Rockefeller-Silvia was to also invest $400,000 and Benjamin Meredith and Carolina Roffman $100,000 and bear the costs of training and upkeep of the horse until it was sold.
“None of the defendants ever contributed any money towards the purchase of Lebron, and further, never intended to do so,” Ruth Green alleged in her suit. “Instead they used plaintiff’s money to purchase Lebron for their own use and benefit.”
However, after she realized the three had “defrauded her,” she met on about Feb. 5 last year with Benjamin Meredith and Stuart Roffman.
“At that meeting, Meredith offered on behalf of himself and Roffman, his wife, to pay plaintiff $450,000 on or before Feb. 7, 2018 and also to pay plaintiff 20 per cent of the profits on the future sale of the horse Lebron if the plaintiff would agree not to file a lawsuit against them, or otherwise subject them to public scrutiny.
“Plaintiff agreed to the terms proposed–i.e. (that is), she would not file a lawsuit if she was paid $450,000 by Feb. 7, 2018 and that she would receive 20 per cent of the profits on the sale of the horse when the horse was sold at the end of the 2018 competition season. In fact, plaintiff and Meredith shook hands on the deal. Plaintiff then shook S. Roffman’s hand, who acknowledged the deal.
“However, Roffman and Meredith failed and/or refused to the pay the agreed upon $450,000 on Feb. 7, 2018.”
After the meeting, the suit alleged, “S. Roffman convinced his daughter Roffman and son-in-law Meredith to back out of the deal that they had struck with plaintiff and not to perform the terms previously agreed upon.
“In fact, he tried to torpedo the deal, and to negotiate different terms directly with plaintiff via text message.”
The amended suit alleged: “S. Roffman was not privileged to interfere with the oral agreement made between Roffman, Meredith and plaintiff.
“As a direct and proximate result of S. Roffman’s tortious conduct, plaintiff has suffered, and continues to suffer, damages.
“Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment for damages against defendant S. Roffman, together with costs, and for such other relief as the court deems just and proper.”
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 2, 2019–Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, undaunted by injury that kept her out of the 2018 World Equestrian Games, has set championships and Olympics for years to come as new goals for herself.
Although she has not yet had an operation that doctors tell her is necessary to fix an injury to her right shoulder, Yvonne is preparing for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival over the next three months to qualify for the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April and the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru at the end of July on a journey she intends to take her to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and beyond.
She became the first Dominican to compete at a World Cup Final and the first dressage rider from her nation to go to the Olympics.
After a career in which she and her husband, Eduardo, sponsored Dominican Republic teams leading to Yvonne earning individual medals at Pan American and Central American and Caribbean Games over almost two decades as well as competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 World Cup Final in Paris, Yvonne is now focusing on personal accomplishments.
She has her two Grand Prix horses, Aquamarijn, a 14-year-old KWPN mare, and Foco Loco W, a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, both of which she has competed at top sport in Europe and the Americas.
And last fall she added Felicia, a KWPN mare that Australia’s Simone Pearce competed for Andreas Helgstrand as a five-year-old at the 2015 World Young Horse Championships, that is ready for small tour. Both Big and Small Tour horses can compete at the Pan Ams.
“I’m not getting any younger,” said the 51-year-old Yvonne as she prepared her horses at the stables across the street from the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex where the Global circuit is staged over the next three months.
“I think I’m exactly where I want to be and where I want to go. When you’re doing the equestrian journey you have to have an open door if you want to have horses in your life and be honest and realistic as to what you’re good at and what you like. There are so many different aspects of the industry that you can do—I’ve done the clinics, the teams, the half-owned barns, breeding, jumping, Spanish horses—I’ve done it all, tried it all… was successful in some, not in others.
“Now I’m where you are when you go to school and you focus on your major. Now my major, through all my experiences, I think I’m competitive enough to go into the international Grand Prix ring which is not cheap, is not easy to deal with the logistics of it to travel all over the world. My kids are out of the house, my husband can travel with me.
“Now I just want to show, I want to be really competitive.
“I’m prioritizng my competiton career.
“Becuse I’ve done that people have come forward and want to invest, because now they’re seeing that I am totally dedicated. That’s really nice for me. I’ve always loved to compete, I love the training.
“I love that edge of being nervous, throwing up every time I go into the ring and wonder why I’m doing that. But I go back every time. I love that.
“As a result, I’m getting better quality horses and the horss are getting better because of the attention I’m able to give them.”
She has worked out her Florida competition schedule with coach Ton de Ridder who will fly in from Germany as he has in the past and for physiotherapy sessions with Lorenzo Benito that she brings in from Spain.
Daily eyes on the ground are provided by Kathy Priest of Versailles, Kentucky who kept Yvonne’s horses competition-ready while she dealt with a recurrence of the shoulder injury when nerves were damaged while jogging Aquamrijn at Munich, Germany in May. She had already qualified both horses for the Tryon WEG, putting off surgery to fix the injury caused a year ago and the three months required of no riding.
“I was very disappointed, not just for all the hard work and everything I had done to get there,” she said, “but the competition was the best championship I have ever seen and to have been a part of and amongst that type of riding and quality of everything was sad for me not to have been able to participate.
“I was lucky to have gotten as far as I did as a Dominican. It was very important to get through the Central American Games and what I had to do to get through it. So when I came off that and the shape I was in, my shoulder froze up and then I was done. It was pretty devastating. It took me quite a while to get over that I wasn’t going. I tried everything to convince everybody that I could do it but I couldn’t.”
It wasn’t the first major career competition setback for Yvonne.
In 2012, she campaigned for a start at the London Olympics. The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) awarded the place to Brazil although competitions there were with three national judges and not a maximum of two. The Court of Arbitration for Sport agreed that the FEI erred but ruled that competitors in Brazil performed under rules approved by the FEI thus the starting place should go to that nation with the higher qualifying results.
Yvonne jokes that the Paris 2024 Olympics are in her sights as her daughter wants to be there to cheer her on.
Although she admits to not liking the effort required to stay fit, “through exercise I really do feel a lot better physically than I did 20 years ago. Now I’m back. I’m exhausted but I feel really good again.
“I have no end in sight as long as I can physically keep going.”
American Laura Graves and Verdades began 2019 a year after making history on the world stage with her World Equestrian Games silver medal team mates Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet and Adrienne Lyle on Salvino ranking highest in their careers.
Laura, 31 years old on the horse she brought up in rural Vermont to become the first American partnership to rank No. 1 in the world, ended 2018 second in the world to German superstar Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD.
Laura, whose birthday is one day but 18 years separated from Isabell, and the horse she calls “Diddy” established the best world championship results for any American, team and individual silver medals at the Tryon World Equestrian Games to add to the 2016 Olympic team bronze in Rio de Janeiro and team gold and individual silver at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Based in the Orlando area community of Geneva, Florida, Laura and Verdades also hold all three American Grand Prix record scores–89.083 per cent for the Freestyle set at the World Cup Final in Paris in 2018, 81.824 per cent in the Special posted in Aachen, Germany in 2017 and 81.537 per cent in the Grand Prix at the Tryon WEG. The duo are also only one of two American combinations–Steffen Peters on Ravel is the other–to gain entry to the exclusive Grand Prix 80 per cent club.
With their No. 2 ranking for December 2018, Laura and Verdades have made the top two in the world for a total of eight months, equal to the eight occasions that her personal trainer and newly appointed U.S. team coach Debbie McDonald achieved 2003-2005, though the rankings at the time were for riders only and not combinations. The current format was implemented in 2006. Brentina was the Hanoverian mare that Debbie rode in two Olympics, team bronze in Athens in 2004; two World Games, team silver in 2002 and team bronze in 2006, and the first and in 2003 the first American to capture the World Cup title, match only once since by Steffen Peters on Ravel in 2009.
Laura has twice been World Cup reserve champion to Isabell and Weihegold and is aiming for the Final in Gothenberg, Sweden next April where the German superstar will again defend her title.
Kasey Perry-Glass and Dublet start 2019 at No. 11 in the world following the pair’s performance at the Tryon WEG, up two places from the October ranking.
The 2018 results for the 31-year-old Kasey came after an intensive competition year following their 2016 Olympic team bronze medal and then an eight-month break before rejoining her team mates Laura and Adrienne to work with Debbie McDonald to focus on the world championships at home.
The latest ranking of 11th in the world for Kasey and the 16-year-old Danish Warmdblood gelding is up two places from their previous high of 13th the previous two months.
For Adrienne Lyle, one of the Debbie McDonald triumvirate, this is her second experience at top sport having competed Wizard at the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2014 World Games in Normandy.
Adrienne, who has worked with and been mentored by Debbie McDoanld for the past decade and a half, ranked as high as 26th on Wizard in mid-2014.
She was without a Big Tour horse for three years while developing Salvino, now owned by Elizabeth “Betsy” Juliano, who also owns Horizon ridden by Adrienne as well as supporting Laura Graves and American dressage programs.
Adrienne began competing Salvino, a Hanoverian stallion, at international Grand Prix in March 2017 and in 2018 posted results at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Forida and in Europe that earned the pair a place on the Tryon WEG team to win silver.
The pair are ranked 16th in the world, the highest standing so far.
Adrienne, currently based in Wellington, is pointing Salvino, now 12 years old, to the World Cup Final in April.
Steffen Peters, America’s most accomplished competitor for the past two decades and on the 2018 World Games team, is ranked 32nd on Rosamunde and 37th on Suppenkasper that he rode at Tryon.
Other Americans in the top 50 in the world are Shelly Francis on Danilo at 36th, Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo at No. 38 and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on Lonoir 41st.
Isabell Werth on Weihegold entered 2019 at No. 1 for the third year while Laura Graves on Verdades matched the American record of eight months of top two placings held for more than 13 years by her personal trainer and newly appointed USA team coach Debbie McDonald.
Isabell, the most decorated equestrian of any Olympic horse discipline with 10 medals, ended 2018 at No. 1 with the Oldenburg mare for the 25th month beginning in October 2016, a month after the Rio de Janiero Games where the pair led Germany to team gold and captured individual silver.
Isabell, who turns 50 years of age in July, and the mare that automatically became 14 on Tuesday, the “official” birthday of all International Equestrian Federation (FEI)-registered horses in the northern hemisphere, went on to win the World Cup in 2017 and 2018 and sweep the 2017 European Championships.
Only the American pair of Laura Graves and “Diddy,” as she calls Verdades, broke Isabell’s string of 25 months atop the world standings, to become the top combination in September and October, the first ever by an United States partnership and finished the year No. 2. (see separate story).
Isabell and Bella Rose, the mare that she brought back from more than 3 1/2 years absence from competition to win emotion-charged World Equestrian Games team and individual gold medals in Tryon in September, was ranked third. Emilio that she’s competing as a backup to defend her World Cup title was ranked fourth at year’s end though the official rankings haven’t yet been posted.
Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH, owned by American Louise Leatherdale and Susanne Meyer, moved up a couple of places to fifth, boosted by a pair of second places at the year-end World Cup qualifier in Mechelen, Belgium last week and Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Cassidy dropping to 13th from fifth because of a reduced number of scores that count for the rankings.
Helen, the 2012 German team Olympic and 2014 World Games rider of Damon Hill, narrowly missed taking the 17-year-old Hanoverian stallion to the Tryon WEG after a five-month break from competition to give birth to her second child.
Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St. John Freestyle, a star combination of the Tryon Games, moved up one place to No. 6. Charlotte holds the record since the current ranking format was introduced in 2006 with 36 months at No. 1 on Valegro, ending 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 as No. 1 in the world.
The Dutch superstar Anky van Grunsven topped the standings for a still unmatched five years from 2004 through 2008, with the final three years partnered with Salinero after the ranking format change.Netherlands
Dorothee Schneider and Sammy Davis Jr. were up a spot to seventh and Edward Gal and Zonik to No. 8.
Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen now has three horses in the top 30 in the world–on Blue Hors Zack, his Tryon team mount, moving up one place to No. 9; on Blue Hors Zepter vaulting to 18th from 33rd at the end of November with results from the Christmas show at Frankfurt, Germany, and up a spot to 26th on Blue Hors Don Olymbrio.
Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl produced rankings shattering performances on TSF Dalera BB, jumping to No. 10 from 20th in nine months at Big Tour, with two victories on the Trakehner mare, now 12 years old, at the Geneva CDI5* at the beginning of December.
Jessica climbed four places to No, 15 on Zaire-E while Unee BB that she competed at four World Cup Finals as well as on the German team at the 2015 European Championships was retired and dropped out of the top 50.
American WEG silver medal team combinations Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet climbed to their highest ever ranking at No. 11 as did Adrienne Lyle on Salvino to No. 16, both up a couple of places.
Hans Peter Minderhoud, Netherlands Olympic and championship team rider, rode Glock’s Dream Boy at year-end shows to jump to No. 24 in the world from 48th a month earlier.