Come and meet, or reacquaint yourself with, our rider ambassadors through their stories. Today, we would like to introduce you to Laura Kraut, international 5* rider and team silver Medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Laura Kraut’s mother Carol was an excellent rider, and her two daughters grew up surrounded by horses. “It’s actually quite complicated to explain why I love them. They are all I think about and all I do. It’s a way of life for me: horses are my obsession,” says Laura.
“It was never an option to be anything but a professional rider, and I still can’t imagine doing anything else today! Even when I can’t ride, because of an injury for example, I still feel the need to go to the stables every day.” At just three years old, the little girl took part in her first competition, which consisted of a few laps around the ring, all dolled up and proud as punch, on a pony that was as elegant as herself.
Retire? No way!
Fifty-three years later, this most tenacious of American horsewomen is still competing. She has quite the trophy cabinet, including two Olympic team medals, gold at the 2008 Hong Kong Games and silver in Tokyo in 2021. These great achievements have not dampened her will to win, nor her inexhaustible energy: Laura even decided to move to the Netherlands so she could compete on the European circuit, the most selective circuit in the world.
She already had two homes, however, the USA where she was born and where she spends the winters competing in Wellington, and England where her partner Nick Skelton lives:
“I live in Europe because I want to continue to compete against the best! It’s the only way to stay at the top level.”
The fighter is giving it her all on the physical side too: “I am fifty-six years old and I do everything I can to stay in shape. I work out physically to maintain the strength and flexibility I need for my job: lots of yoga, pilates, weight training… I run too, even though my knees complain a bit! My dream, at this stage, is not to win this or that Grand Prix but to stay competitive at the highest level for as long as possible.”
Passing on the 2022 World Championships
Team World Champion with Zeremonie in Tryon in 2018, Laura Kraut will unfortunately not be able to defend her title mid-August in Herning, Denmark. Her lead horse Baloutinue, which she rode at the Tokyo Olympics, is out of action due to injury. “It’s nothing serious, but if there’s one thing my career has taught me, it’s that there’s no point in competing in a championship with a horse that’s not in the best shape. It is far too much of an effort, far too hard.
Baloutinue is expected to be back in competition in September. The decision to pass up on these world championships was not an easy one to make, of course. Thirty years ago I might have gone for it anyway, listening only to my ambition! But I now know that patience is the main virtue you need when you are dealing with horses.”
« Laura Kraut = Positive thinking »
The respect she shows for Baloutinue should mean they can compete together in the Olympic Games Paris 2024, which is her next major sports objective. Laura Kraut will be 58 years old by then, but her ambition is as strong as ever, because defeatism just isn’t in her vocabulary.
“Stay positive! That is absolutely essential. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, when you’re having a hard time. But horses pick up on these negative emotions. Every rider’s career has its ups and downs, so you have to learn to stay optimistic through the tough times.”
We are proud to have Laura Kraut as one of our Ambassadors & Horse Pilot athletes, and to support her in her projects. Thank you to her for sharing her experience with us.
Interview by Céline Gualde
Photos credits: Stéphane Candé