Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 8, 2020 – American Olympian Laura Graves announced on her social media Wednesday, Jan. 8 that she has made the difficult decision to retire her longtime mount, Verdades. The pair has had an outstanding career together, earning medals at multiple international championships including the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2018 World Equestrian Games and many FEI World Cup Finals.
The 18-year-old KWPN gelding Verdades, fondly known as “Diddy,” began his international career with Graves in 2012 at Prix St. Georges, gaining experience in Florida until their international Grand Prix debut in 2014. In 2015, they qualified for the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, then went on to compete in the Pan American Games in Toronto for the U.S. winning team gold and individual silver.
Graves, who was named the 2018 Equestrian of the Year during the 2019 US Equestrian (USEF) Annual Meeting, and her incredible Diddy, are considered one of the most talented combinations in the sport of dressage since their rise to fame in 2014. The duo was an integral part of the U.S. dressage team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where they placed fourth individually and helped the team earn a spot on the podium with the bronze medal.
They continued to elevate their presence on the international stage at the 2018 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Paris, France, where the pair topped the world #1 combination, Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD, to take home the Grand Prix victory with a score of 81.413% and they placed second overall at the end of the competition. Later that summer, Graves and Verdades helped their team claim second place honors at the CDIO5* in Aachen, Germany. In the fall, Graves qualified and competed at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, North Carolina, where the U.S. team earned the silver medal. In addition, Graves also won the individual silver medal in the Grand Prix Special, the highest individual medal earned by a U.S. dressage athlete at a world championship. Capping off an extremely impressive year, Graves was the first American to be ranked No. 1 on the FEI Dressage World Ranking list.
“It is with both a heavy heart and a grateful mind that today, I announce the retirement of my great friend, Diddy,” Graves explained on her social media post. “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.
While nothing makes me happier than watching him play in his field and take him for hacks, it is still a very new and very sad realization for me that this journey has reached its end.
This horse not only achieved every goal we ever set, but he fulfilled dreams that I never knew I had. 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.
While it will not be the same loading up the trailer without him, I am very much looking forward to the next chapter of my career with a stable full of young horses.
I would like to express a deep love and appreciation for so many people, without whom, this horse would never had made his way to the world stage. My family, especially my mom, who selected Diddy with her keen eye and supported us even when everyone said we were crazy. My soon to be husband, Curt who is always my biggest fan and never questions my need to care for our animals. Debbie McDonald who gave us time when no one else would and believed in our ability to be great. Betsy Juliano who has been by my side through the ups and downs of this rollercoaster and made so much possible for me. Emmalie Clapp my amazing groom who always cares for my horses like her own. Our talented and dedicated team of veterinarians and farriers who kept this boy in top shape for so many years. Robert Dover, Hallye Griffin, US Equestrian and the USET for giving us the opportunity to represent the USA. Lastly, the biggest thank you to Verdades, Diddy, Diddyman, Bugs, my buddy for the joy you have brought to so many.”
More details to follow shortly.