Back in August, trainer Kaili Graf and her rescue horse Soby were gearing up for the 2015 Western Dressage World Championships in Tulsa. As it turns out, all their hard work and dedication paid off last month with five overall top 10 finishes and two top five placings.
“We did very well, above and beyond what I would have ever expected,” said Kaili. “Most of my classes had between 35 to 45 competitors, so it was very intimidating.”
As for the specific placings, Kaili and Soby earned 9th in Western Dressage Suitability, 5th in Open Equitation on the Rail, 5th in Basic Freestyle, 6th in the Introductory Level Test Four, and 8th in the Level One Freestyle.
Kaili described the 10-day experience of trailering out and competing in Oklahoma as an emotional rollercoaster, “simultaneously terrifying and absolutely thrilling.” She explained, “Looking at this huge stadium, and it’s just you and your horse in a little arena in front of the judge and all the lights are on you…the whole thing was a ‘pinch-me’ moment.”
Kaili also said that her GoFundMe campaign made a huge difference in being able to fund the trip. “I’d also like to say thank you to my friends, family, and community supporters. Without them, we wouldn’t have made it to Worlds. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”
The dynamic duo of Kaili and Soby won’t be relaxing for long, though, as she is already scheduled to teach some Western Dressage clinics in January.
“I feel hugely inspired,” said Kaili. “There’s a lot of new interest. I was kind of the guinea pig getting out there and trying this, and now I want to try to build up my team.”
For those interested in learning about Western Dressage, more information is available on Kaili’s website at SpeakEquine.com/clinics.