Reflections on the World Show

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Kaili Graf & Diamonds Peppy Sandy (a.k.a. Soby)

Challenging. Fun. Inspiring. Educational. This year’s WDAA Western Dressage World Championship was a whirlwind of emotion and experience. I left Tulsa with a profound respect for those that make this discipline a reality. From the friendly competitors to the hard-working Board, the air of enthusiasm, hard work, commitment and passion for our sport was overwhelming.

It was an honor to compete alongside the trainers I most admire in the industry. I made unexpected new friendships, found inspiration in the stories of competitors from all over, and learned from fellow trainers I’d never met before. Unlike other championships I’ve attended, every single person I met was cheerful, friendly and genuinely excited to be there. Truly a supportive community of horsemen and women.

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Kaili Graf & Diamonds Peppy Sandy (a.k.a. Soby)

I was in attendance on “double duty;” first as a competitor, but also as a representative of the WDAA. As the WDAA’s Social Media & Marketing manager, I had the opportunity to attend the Annual convention, interview, photograph, network and assist with the WDAA booth.  I am in awe of the energy and commitment of our Board and Staff. We have an amazing, inspiring group of leaders within the WDAA that work incredibly hard to keep our sport growing.

In reflection, I am sincerely glad that I made this trip. I certainly met with challenges in the show ring and came home with an excess of “homework.” It was hard work to prepare, train and travel to Tulsa. I made the trek from California to Tulsa all alone, just me and my horse – getting stuck in a snowstorm and all! But I learned a lot, gained new confidence in myself and my horse and managed to (somehow) bring home an armload of colorful ribbons amidst large classes and tough competition. Aside from the camaraderie and friendships I made, the highlight was competing in and watching the freestyle classes. What a blast. I need to make sure I prepare a costume next year!

I left Tulsa feeling grateful, inspired and completely exhausted. What a way to wrap up my year! I can’t wait to share my journey with my students, clients, friends and family. In many ways, I was the “World Championship guinea pig” for my barn this year. But I know that my experiences have challenged and inspired my students and friends to join me next year. So from Kaili Graf  and Team Speak out in Ventura County – we’ll all be seeing you at World next year! And we can’t wait!

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