EQUUS Film Festival Meet & Greet with Olympian Laura Graves at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals in Omaha
Meet Laura Graves
Meet & Greet with Bronze Medalist
Laura Graves, who helped Team USA secure a bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games, is now at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals in Omaha with her Olympic mount, Verdades. Graves and “Diddy,” his nickname, will again be showcasing the incredible dressage movements that this horse is capable of at this World Cup competition.
Graves took some time out of her day to watch a short video along with a host of children and adults. The film was produced by NBC and was entered in the annual EQUUS Film Festival in 2016. “Slow and steady wins the race: The story of Laura Graves and Diddy” was directed by Nette-Lee Lax and won the Equestrian Art Film – Mini award. The World Cup in Nebraska is going on now through Sunday, April 2.
Laura shares her story
Before the film, Laura took a moment to say hi to the members of the audience and let them know she would be available for questions and to sign autographs after the film.
For six minutes and 42 seconds the audience was touched by her story. It began with the excitement she felt after getting her first horse. However, that soon changed to doubt after too much difficulty, including landing on the ground multiple times and even breaking her back. There were times she wanted to give up her love and passion for dressage, until a chance meeting set her on the path to success.
A Story of Triumph over Adversity
Throughout the film, you could hear the sound of young children awestruck by what they were seeing, while at the other end of the spectrum were those shedding tears after seeing Laura’s heartfelt tale of triumph and tribulation.
Afterwards, Laura spoke to some of the adults while the younger kids took the time to thank her with a shake of the hand. Some of the adults were so taken by the opportunity to meet this amazing lady that they could not hide the tears. It was both an emotional and memorable opportunity to see how one woman’s story can truly touch the heart and soul when they see it on the silver screen.
“This has always been our goal,” said Lisa Diersen, founder of the EQUUS Film Festival. “People need to have the opportunity to see and hear these stories of triumph and that’s why I started this annual event.”
“The beauty of the EQUUS Film Festival is that it doesn’t stop there,” commented co-director Diana De Rosa. “After our November annual event ends, we continue giving the films visibility by bringing the WINNIE Award winning films to other places. We are thrilled that the World Cup decision-makers saw the value in adding this to their schedule.”
“Watching the reaction to those who had the chance to see the film and the souls that were touched makes it all worth it,” added Diersen.
World Cup and the EQUUS Film Festival Working Together
In addition to the finals in show jumping and dressage, the World Cup also offers a host of other opportunities including the Horse Discovery Zone. Over the five days some 5000 school children are shuttled in on buses. Once they arrive at the venue, they can take part in a host of educational activities. A portion of their visit is geared towards watching a selection of 18 different EQUUS Film Festival shorts. Graves’ film was one of these.
Additional EQUUS Film Festival offerings, including full-length films, are also being showcased at the Marcus Midtown Theater Thursday through Saturday with shuttle service from CenturyLink. This is where all the World Cup activities and competitions are taking place.
Some of the directors whose films are being shown have come to support their movies. These include Horse Shelter Diaries director, Donna Wells, and The Edge producer Julianne Neal and star Bruce Anderson. Both films will be shown on Friday and Saturday.
The Draw Party
The Longines FEI World Cup™
The EQUUS Film Festival is all about horse films. The Longines FEI World Cup™ is an annual international competition featuring the world's best show jumping and dressage horses and riders from around the world. There will be riders from 27 countries competing in this annual event.
In preparation for the World Cup, a few extra activities are also happening. On Wednesday night, there was a draw for the order of the horses for both the 17 dressage and the 37 show jumping riders. This took place at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, one of the top five in the world, and was attended by the riders, officials, media and guests. It was a full-house event.
Once the draw was completed guests were invited to take a tour through the Aquarium. This was followed by a light dinner. It was truly an impressive draw and will surely be tagged as one of the best.
The person who inspired having the World Cup come to Omaha was Lisa Roskens, chairwoman of the Omaha Equestrian Foundation, who got up and spoke after the draw. The vision she and so many others had and are now fulfilling is to showcase to the world the love and passion that Omaha has for horses. In fact, this event has already shown that it can match some of the best that have ever taken place.
The World Cup competition began on Thursday with the dressage in the afternoon and the show jumping at night. Among the many competitors are Olympic veterans such as Isabell Werth, Steffen Peters, Graves, McLain Ward and many others. We will be bringing highlights from this very prestigious event.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for another daily report in this hub page series through Sunday, April 2 and take some time to share your comments and questions.
This is the second in the series. To see the first article go to this link.