I'm going to sound all fan girl here, but I think I have a girl crush on Laura Graves. When she burst onto the scene in the qualifiers for the WEG I was so impressed with the quality of her tests but also the harmony and lightness between horse and rider. Everything looked so smooth and flowing and they looked happy together. Verdades is enormous and Laura is tiny, but the work looks light as a feather. As time has gone on and through various competitions they have shown that they are not a flash in the pan, I continue to be so impressed. The quality of the work just seems on another level from a lot of Grand Prix competitors.
One of the things I like the most about Laura is that she definitely seems to do things her own way. In various interviews over the past year Laura has talked about how she does things a bit differently from the average US dressage professional. She has self financed and found ways to have some excellent trainers, but she keeps a much smaller barn, does all of Verdades grooming herself except at shows, and seems like she is much more tuned in to her horse and the connection with him than in how to run a huge training establishment for profit. This isn't an accident either, it is a conscious decision to go her own way. It seems like so many of the successful US dressage riders run what are essentially horse factories, which while turning out some nice horses and being very competitive, seem almost soulless. Laura seems to have found a way to be a true horsewoman while also being competitive on the world stage and I so look forward to seeing what she and Verdades will do in the next couple of years. Such a great thing for US dressage.