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Verdades and Cobra Win 2018 Horse of the Year Titles

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Jan 12, 2019, 10:28 PM EST

West Palm Beach, Fla. – US Equestrian is pleased to share that Verdades, owned by Laura Graves and Curt Maes, has been voted the 2018 International Horse of the Year and Cobra, owned by Marsha Hartford-Sapp, has been voted the 2018 National Horse of the Year.

International Horse of the Year

Verdades (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Verdades (Florett AS x Liwilarda/Goya), a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, affectionately known as Diddy, began his journey to international success in 2014 after garnering attention from his reserve-champion finish at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp. Since his launch into the spotlight with his life-long rider and trainer Graves, Verdades’s achievements and continued success are profound. In 2018, Verdades again proved why he is one of the best horses to grace the international dressage ring as he won the Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals in Paris and helped the U.S. team earn a silver medal in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Germany. He and Graves then rode for silver medal-winning The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon 2018.

With the home crowd in his periphery, Verdades also led Graves to an individual silver medal, the first silver medal awarded to a U.S. dressage combination at a global championship. Their 2018 success allowed them to reach the world number one position on the FEI World Individual Dressage Ranking List in October, marking the first time that a U.S. dressage combination has been ranked world number one.

"Thank you for recognizing my horse tonight because this is really what it is about," said Graves. "...this great horse brings joy to so many people. So it is Verdades tonight that we really have to say thank you to. It has been a great pleasure, it has been my pleasure to share him with the world."

See the video honoring Verdades at the USEF Horse of the Year Awards presented by AON.

National Horse of the Year

Cobra (Kim Chason - www.chasonphotos.com)

Since being rounded up in the mountains of Nevada at the age of six, Cobra’s trainer and owner Marsha Hartford-Sapp has been devoted to the 14-year-old mustang gelding and proceeded training him with caution and respect for his instincts, creating a deep bond. Their mutual trust has seen them through competitions in both classical and Western dressage, where Cobra’s versatility and talent for each has been apparent. As one of the founding horses of USEF Western dressage competition, Cobra was one of the first recipients of the 2015 Horse of the Year awards in that discipline and has continued to collect numerous accolades ever since.

In 2018, Cobra and Hartford-Sapp won the Western Dressage Association of America’s Western Dressage World Championship Level 4 Test 3 Open, were reserve champions in the Level 3 Test 3 Open and the Western Dressage Musical Freestyle, and Cobra was named Western Dressage Level 4 Horse of the Year. Cobra was also the 2018 Adequan®/United States Dressage Federation All-Breeds American Mustang & Burro Association Prix St. Georges National Champion.

"Thank you so much for everyone that voted and believed in the same vision that I had for this horse," said Hartford-Sapp. "Several years ago I stood in the middle of a round pen with a horse that was six-years-old when he was rounded up by helicopter and had never been touched by human hands. The horse took me to the FEI levels. I won my USDF silver medal riding this horse and two world championships. But more than that, when I first met this horse I made a promise that I would make sure that he got the training that would ensure that he got a good life."

"...So winning this award is an honor that I fulfilled a promise to a horse that I would help to create a good life for him. So from wild to world champion, this horse's heart is really what has led him through the years and I am so proud that he recieved this award."

See the video honoring Cobra at the USEF Horse of the Year Awards presented by AON.