The USA has announced all its teams for the Rio Olympics. The first to be announced was the eventing team and you can check them out on our separate article on this link.
The dressage team were next up to be announced, and there are three new Olympians named and well as an Olympic medallist.
Allison Brock will be riding Rosevelt (‘Rosie’), a Hanoverian stallion. This will be Allison’s first Olympics. She was second in the CDIW Grand Prix Freestyle at Wellington, won the CDI4* GP Special and was second in the CDI4* GP at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 10, and won the CDI3* GP and GP Special at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 12. As a horse-loving child growing up in Hawaii, “Ali” did it all. She show jumped, rode western, took dressage lessons, and was very active in Pony Club. At 17, she left Hawaii for the mainland to chase her dressage dreams. She became a working student for many prominent equestrian professionals, including Olympian Sue Blinks, and the time spent with Sue helped lay the foundation for her to become a top dressage athlete. When Sue moved to the West Coast, Ali got a job with Fritz and Claudine Kundrun. The dressage enthusiasts decided to sponsor and develop her for elite competition and gave her the position of head trainer at their Deer Meadow Farms in Wellington, Florida.
Laura Graves will be on Verdades, a KWPN gelding. Her recent results include team silver in the CDIO5* Nations Cup, winning the CDIO5* GP Special, and second in the CDIO5* GP with Verdades at CHIO Rotterdam. She was also second in the CDI4* GP at CDI4* Roosendaal was a member of the gold medal winning team, and was second in the CDIO5* GP at CDIO5* Compiègne. Laura gave up hairdressing to turn her unruly horse, Verdades (‘Diddy’) into a dressage superstar. Chosen as a foal by her mother from a video, he was produced by Laura herself, who advanced him up the levels with the guidance of several top trainers. They went to WEG in 2014, where they were fifth in the Grand Prix Freestyle. In 2015, they won individual silver and team gold at the Pan American Games and capped off the year by winning the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship.
Kasey Perry-Glass will be on Goerklintgaards Dublet, a Danish warmblood gelding. This is her first Olympics. Her recent achievements include team gold in the CDIO3* Wellington, individual silver in the CDIO3* Wellington Grand Prix Freestyle (scoring 81.325%), second in the CDI-W GP and GP Special with Dublet during week seven of the 2016 Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Kasey was raised in a close-knit family with five siblings and began riding aged five when she joined her sisters and mother at a small community barn in Northern California. She soon saw how much fun her friends were having jumping, discovered the discipline of eventing, and went on to train with eventers Carmela Richards and Olympian Gina Miles. She recognised her love for dressage in high school when she was training with Gina Duran at Topline Training. Kasey ultimately decided to pursue dressage full-time and began training with ENE French Riding Academy graduate, Christophe Theallet. She pursued her riding as she attended and graduated from California State University Sacramento, with a degree in business entrepreneurship.
Now working closely with Olympian Debbie McDonald, Kasey divides her time between her Wellington, Florida winter base and Hailey, Idaho. She is married to farrier Dana Glass and enjoys running (marathons) and spinning in her spare time.
Steffen Peters will ride Legolas 92, a Westphalian gelding. He also has had Rosamunde (a Rheinlander mare) named as a direct reserve. Steffen won his first Olympic medal, a team bronze, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games aboard Udon. He and Floriano were the alternates on the 2004 Athens Olympic team. In 2006, the pair were the anchor on the bronze medal-winning team at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games. His recent successes include team silver in the CDIO5* Nations Cup, second in the CDIO5* GP Freestyle, and winning the CDI3* GP and GP Special at CHIO Rotterdam. He won the CDI4* GP and was second in the GP Special with Legolas 92 and placed third in the CDI4* GP and GP Freestyle with Rosamunde at CDI4* Roosendaal. He also won the CDI-W GP and GP Freestyle with Legolas 92 and the CDI-W GP Special with Rosamunde at the Del Mar National Dressage Show. Born in Wesel, Germany, Steffen began riding at an early age. While training at Jo Hinnemann’s barn in Voerde, Germany, he met American trainer Laurie Falvo who invited him to work at her barn in San Diego in the summer of 1984. After being captivated by the lifestyle and weather, Steffen made a life-changing decision to move to San Diego in 1985 with his mount, Udon. He worked for several people over the next five years, including Olympian Guenter Seidel, while living in a $200-per-month garage apartment and riding a motorbike for transportation. Steffen started his own business in 1991 and became a U.S. citizen in 1992. Since that time, he has represented the US at numerous championships and earned many national titles. With Ravel, he amassed a remarkable record: in 2008, the pair won every single competition they entered leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, including the 2008 USEF Selection Trials for Dressage. At Olympics, Ravel’s first competition outside the U.S., they finished fourth by the slimmest of margins. In 2009, the duo scored impressive wins, including the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final and all of the Big Tour classes at CHIO Aachen. At the 2010 WEG in Kentucky, Steffen collected the first individual championship medals of his career, winning bronze in the GP Special and Freestyle with Ravel. He is an eight-time USEF GP Dressage National Champion and a three-time USEF Equestrian of the Year. He and his wife, Shannon, operate Arroyo Del Mar, a busy training facility in the San Diego area.
Shelley Francis is the travelling reserve on Doktor, an Oldenburg gelding. Her recent successes include team gold CDIO5* Compiègne and second in the CDI-W GP Freestyle with Danilo at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 12. She grew up in Bar Harbor, Maine, where her family still owns a 30-acre farm. An aunt presented Shelly with a cherished book when she was 13: Dressage by Henry Wynmalen, and this instilled her passion for dressage. Over the last 20 years, she has quietly achieved strong results in Prix St. Georges and Grand Prix competitions. In 1996, she was second alternate for the U.S. Olympic team with Pikant. In 1997, the pair won the USDF Grand Prix Champion Horse of the Year and went on to compete at the 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games in Rome. In 2005, she competed Dominion to the top six in the U.S. team rankings.
The show jumping team has also just been announced. A number of riders were vying for places, and competition was hot, including young stars Jessica Springsteen and Georgina Bloombert. The U.S. team for 2012 was Reed Kessler, McLain Ward, Beezie Madden and Rich Fellers and they finished sixth equal with Sweden. This year it is:
Beezie Madden will ride Cortes C, a Belgian warmblood gelding. Originally from Milwaukee, Beezie has been riding since the age of three and received her first pony as a Christmas gift at age four. She rode throughout her childhood, in addition to playing basketball and softball, but riding was her true passion. She made her debut at Grand Prix in 1985, aged 22. For nearly three decades, Beezie has represented the United States in the world’s most prestigious competitions, becoming the first American to break into the top three in show jumping’s world rankings. She was also the first woman to pass the $1 million mark in earnings for show jumping. Beezie has won the USEF Equestrian of the Year title four times, including back-to-back honors in 2006 and 2007 – the first rider ever to do so – and then again earning back-to-back honors in 2013 and 2014. Though she is one of the most successful female equestrian athletes in U.S. history, she did not make her Olympic Games debut until 2004, but she made it a memorable one. Aboard Authentic, Beezie aided the U.S. riders to a team gold. Two years later, she and Authentic added team and individual silver medals to their resume with outstanding performances at 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen. In 2008, they won their second consecutive Olympic team gold medal, and triumphed in an unbelievable jump-off for third place to also pick up individual bronze. Having competed in seven previous FEI World Cup Jumping Finals, Beezie entered the 2013 Final with experience on her side and, with Simon, became only the fifth woman ever to win the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final crown. In May of 2014, she was forced to sit on the sidelines for six weeks due to a broken collarbone. A fierce competitor, she returned to her winning ways as soon as possible, helping the U.S. to victory in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain with Cortes C. The pair went on to represent the U.S. at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games were they collected team and individual bronze medals.
Lucy Davis is from Los Angeles and her horse Barron is a 2004 Belgian warmblood gelding. Recent successes include team silver (tied) in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup at CSIO5* St. Gallen, and second in the CSIO5* St. Gallen. Lucy got an early start, riding as soon as she could walk and taking lessons by the age of five. It was a natural progression for her to take up riding so young, as her grandfather, Robert Barron Frieze, worked in the horse racing industry as a jockey’s agent. Lucy also played soccer competitively until the age of 16 when the commitment of both sports became too much and she chose riding. In 2012, she received the Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy for a young rider in one of the Olympic disciplines who exemplified both sportsmanship and horsemanship. She had a standout year in 2013, competing in her first Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, representing the U.S. on her first FEI Nations Cup teams, earning the Furusiyya Leading Rider of the Day Award for her double-clear jumping effort at Rotterdam, and securing a major win at the GP of Lausanne to make her, at the age of 20, the youngest rider to win a Global Champions Tour GP. Several of those accomplishments took place with Barron, one of Lucy’s top horses, who is named after her grandfather. The following year, Lucy reached another milestone by helping the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, win team bronze. She graduated from Stanford University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering with a specialisation in Architectural Design.
Kent Farrington from Wellington, Florida, will ride Voyeur, a KWPN gelding. Kent began riding at the age of eight after seeing a picture of his mother on a horse and wanting to try it himself. He started taking weekly lessons at a carriage barn in downtown Chicago and soon graduated from riding carriage horses in the city to racing ponies and retraining ex-racehorses in the suburbs. Kent had an outstanding Junior and Young Rider career and turned professional in 1999 when he accepted a job with four-time British Olympian Tim Grubb, and began working with two-time U.S. Olympian Leslie Howard a few years later. In his first three years as a professional, he earned over $1 million in prize money and quickly made a name for himself at the top level of the sport, with numerous Grand Prix wins and Nations Cup appearances. He represented the U.S. in his first international championship with Uceko at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, helping his team earn the gold medal. Kent and Voyeur were also part of the U.S. bronze-medal team at WEG 2014.
McLain Ward from Brewster, New York, will be on HH Azur, a Belgian warmblood mare. McLain was introduced to riding before he could walk and has a competitive prowess that only continues to increase with age. In 1990, aged just 14, he became the youngest rider ever to win both the USET Medal Finals and the USET Talent Derby. He went on to turn that into a legacy, winning the pair of competitions from 1990-1992. After turning pro, he quickly became the youngest rider to reach the $1 million mark in earnings (in 1999, aged 24). McLain has been a valuable member of the U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team at the past three Games. He made his Olympic debut a memorable one at the 2004 Games in Athens, helping the U.S. to team gold aboard his legendary partner Sapphire. Two years later these two were part of the silver-medal-winning team at the 2006 WEG. At the 2008 Olympics, McLain and Sapphire repeated their previous success, earning a second consecutive team gold. In 2012, McLain suffered a shattered knee-cap that kept out of the saddle for more than three months. He made his return to competition a noticeable one, winning at his first event, the $40,000 Old Salem Grand Prix with Antares F. In 2014 and 2015, McLain had big success with longtime partner Rothchild, who holds special meaning for McLain as the last of the horses purchased by his late father, Barney. He and Rothchild were part of the team bronze medal-winning efforts at WEG 2014 and the 2015 Pan American Games. It was at the Pan American Games that McLain accomplished something which had eluded him throughout his career: his first individual medal – a gold. He is married to Lauren, who is an avid competitor in the amateur divisions. In early 2015, they welcomed their first child, Lilly Kristine Ward.
The travelling reserve will be Laura Kraut on Zeremonie, a Holsteiner mare. Laura’s illustrious career began when she received her first riding lesson at three years old. Encouraged by their mother, Carol, Laura and her sister Mary Elizabeth took riding lessons together throughout their childhood and still work together today. While Laura trains and competes around the world at the highest levels, Mary Elizabeth manages the business side of things. For almost three decades Laura has represented the U.S. at Olympic Games, World Championships, and in numerous Nations Cup competitions. Her first big break came in 1992, when she was named an alternate to the U.S. team for the Barcelona Olympics. Eight years later she made her Olympic debut in Sydney. Laura earned her first team medal at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, where she and Miss Independent helped bring home team silver. In 2008, Laura and Cedric defied gravity and expectations at the Olympics in Hong Kong. They had won the 2008 USEF Olympic selection trials, jumping clear in the first round and never looking back. At the Games, Cedric was stellar in the team portion of the competition and an integral part of the gold medal-winning effort for the U.S. A passion for horses and equestrian sport runs in Laura’s family, and her teenage son, Bobby, is an avid competitor in the jumper ranks. Based in both Florida and Britain, Laura and her longtime partner, legendary British show jumper Nick Skelton, run a successful training business. She is an ambassador for Just World International, the charitable foundation established by former rider Jessica Newman, which is dedicated to humanitarian causes.
Thank you to the US Equestrian Federation for such interesting profiles of their riders. A lot of this information was gained from this site.
— US Equestrian (@USequestrian) June 29, 2016