‘He fulfilled dreams that I never knew I had’: multi-medal winner retires ahead of Tokyo Olympics

The multi-medalled Olympic dressage horse, Laura Graves’ Verdades, has been retired from competition with immediate effect.

The 18-year-old Verdades, known at home as Diddy, is the USA’s current top-ranked dressage horse who won team and individual silver at the World Equestrian Games in 2018. Currently ranked seventh in the world, the combination became the first American horse and rider to achieve a world number one ranking, which they held for two months in late 2018.

“It is with both a heavy heart and a grateful mind that today, I announce the retirement of my great friend, Diddy,” said Laura of the KWPN gelding, who is by Florett AS x Goya. “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 realisation for me that this journey has reached its end.”

Laura and Diddy’s final competition was the 2019 World Cup final in April 2019, where they scored over 87% to finish second behind the reigning champion, Isabell Werth, for the third year in a row.

“This horse not only achieved every goal we ever set, but he fulfilled dreams that I never knew I had,” continued Laura, who also led the USA to Olympic bronze in 2016, finishing fourth individually.

“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 honoured 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.”

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Laura said: “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.

“The biggest thank you to Verdades, Diddy, Diddyman, Bugs, my buddy for the joy you have brought to so many.”

While many would have expected Laura and Verdades to lead the USA team at this year’s Tokyo Games, this now opens up opportunities for leading American riders including Kasey Perry-Glass, Adrienne Lyle and Stefan Peters to fill the three available team spots.

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