When Laura Kraut rode into the ring on Wednesday night at the Washington International Horse Show, she had planned to give her new horse, Teirra, a nice and easy warm-up.
For one thing, Kraut had never jumped the 11-year-old Dutch warmblood in an indoor competition and was concerned how the chestnut mare would handle the lights, cameras and crowd at Verizon Center.
The answer was not bad, actually. Kraut won the $10,000 open jumper class.
“I was not sure how she was going to react,” Kraut said of Teirra. “But she was very good and not bothered by the atmosphere.”
The victory was a consolation of sorts for Kraut, who was supposed to be in Guadalajara, Mexico, this week representing the United States as a member of the equestrian team in the Pan American Games.
But complications with quarantine issues with her star horse, Cedric, forced Kraut to bow out of the international competition.
Instead, she’s aiming to gain some experience in Washington for Teirra, whom Kraut acquired in Europe earlier this year. Kraut will ride the mare in Saturday night’s $100,000 President’s Cup grand prix.
The win Wednesday night has made Kraut one of the riders to watch in the horse show’s most prestigious jumping event.
Kraut, 45, grew up in Atlanta and first started riding as a toddler. Her first appearance in the Washington International Horse Show came in the late 1970s, when she rode in medium pony classes.
In 2008, she rode Cedric, a gray gelding, in the Beijing Olympic Games when the Americans won the team gold medal in the jumping competition.
On Friday,, Kraut will ride a dark brown gelding, Woodstock, in the $31,000 open jumper class. Kraut said in an interview she may also enter the 8-year-old Dutch warmblood in the $25,000 puissance competition, which is a high jump class for horses.
In all of the open jumper classes, Kraut will compete against her boyfriend, Nick Skelton, a British grand prix rider. He finished ninth in the Wednesday class that Kraut won.
“We are very competitive,” Kraut said. “But if I can’t win, I want him to win.”
The couple spend half the year in Warwickshire, England, where Skelton has a farm.
Skelton, 53, said Kraut’s greatest asset in the ring is her competitiveness.
“She’s very determined and she has a will to win,” Skelton said. “I like to win and she likes to win, but we try to help each other even though we’re in competition together.”