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Olympic Gold Medalist & Prix Veteran Laura Kraut conducts Special Clinic

Wellington, FL – February 2009 - United States Olympic Show Jumping Team Gold Medalist Laura Kraut conducted an afternoon of teaching two clinics at the Palm Beach Riding Academy in the spacious International Arena at the Palm Beach Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL on Tuesday, February 17, 2009. The Grand Prix veteran worked with each individual during the two hours sessions that were open to riders who at the minimum of level 3.

Participants worked to grow as riders under the guidance of Kraut, who has represented the United States internationally in World Cup Finals, the World Equestrian Games, numerous Olympic Games and winning Nations Cup Teams. Kraut, who has long been known for her great sportsmanship and love of horses helped each participant to improve technique, skills and jumping style by offering advice to these fortunate young riders to become better horsemen, and hopefully one day accomplish each of their own equestrian dreams.

For one 13 year old, Daniela Stransky Secchi of Miami Beach, Fl this opportunity to be a part of a clinic conducted by Laura Kraut was a dream come true. “I don’t even know where to start,” beamed the pretty and slender Miami resident, who trains with Jorge Zamudio at the family’s Stransky’s Mission Farm in Wellington, Florida. “Being able to do a clinic with Laura Kraut is amazing. Not only is she my idol and I look up to her, but also it was extremely fun because I felt like I was having a private lesson! She helped each of us - one by one.” There were nine total in Daniela’s group. “I was nervous because I adore her,” admitted Daniela, who lives between Florida and New York City and has been riding in the jumpers for three years and has at her tender age competed internationally in FEI sanctioned events in Venezuela and Argentina. This year she will add Puerto Rico, Chile and Spain as well as the United States to her show schedule. “I so wanted to make a good impression,” she admitted, “and I had a great time!” added Daniela, who rode her grey Hero for the “lesson.” “I hope she has more in the future!”

Each of the riders was put through their paces both on the flat and over fences. Kraut created a variety of tests and worked on a different exercise to build on each of their skills and help advance them to the next level in the sport. Kraut, who has been riding al her life, had made a plan for the day to help each horse and rider combination successfully navigate a variety of courses. During the two hours in the saddle, they were instructed on ways to focus and make better plans, gain more control, and technical competence.

Each participant was asked to demonstrate their ability to add and subtract strides between fences, altering their horse’s length of stride appropriately so that they could change the number of steps in each line, with Kraut requesting a different number in the same space, having the riders lengthen and shorten their mount’s steps from 4 to 6 strides, making the adjustability become effortless. Each received personalized advice that focused on their individual skills and weaknesses and was offered advice on ways to help them improve their abilities in the saddle, solidify their partnership and understanding with their mounts, and hopefully reach the next level in their riding. “I was told to visualize,” remembered Daniela, “and talk myself through how I approach a course of fences before I start.

The next step was then to do what I have visualized. Laura explained how to focus and concentrate, and talked about how important it is for me to make a plan for my course before I begin. The next step is to control my horse and put my plan to work.” Although her nerves got the best of her at times as she wanted to do her very best in front of her idol, Daniela left the ring that afternoon with new ways to improve her equestrian skills both in and out of the show ring.

According to many, even though Kraut has had many successful partnerships with a variety of mounts, for her the horses are still the reason she loves the sport. “From the time was seven, I knew what I was going to do,” Kraut said in an earlier interview. “The challenge is finding a horse and creating a partnership that results in success.” This philosophy seems right on par with young Daniela, who according to her mother Liliane, had wanted to ride since she opened her mouth, and actually was able to mount up at three years old. Her goal? To be an Olympic rider like Laura Kraut of course…. that and help with charitable organizations and be a professional poker player!

Kraut, known as one of the most consistent and likeable athletes on the international show circuit, seemed to enjoy her afternoon helping the aspiring athletes and to all who watched, she seemed a natural at teaching children. It is not a surprise, Kraut values the time she spends with her son Bobby who also rides. She is patient and understanding, making them feels at ease, even if they are nervous, self-conscious and want to make a great impression.

For this one special afternoon on the horse show grounds, Kraut was not winning Grand Prix and Open Jumper classes, but winning fans who appreciated her vast knowledge and experience that she brought to these equestrian enthusiasts under the sunny Florida sky in the enormous footed arena!


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