Passion, Perseverance Leads Equestrian to Olympic Gold
Passion. Perseverance and the pursuit to accomplish her goals have led one American equestrian to the international spotlight. Although many young girls have a love for horses and dream of riding them in competition, Laura Kraut was able to pursue her dreams and now she rides and competes around the globe. Born into the horse business, she felt early on there was no other career path she would take.
“Horses have been a part of my life pretty much since I was born. My mother was ‘horse crazy’ and it was hereditary. I came up through the ranks like a lot of American riders do with ponies, then hunters onto the jumpers. I started when I was 19. I pretty much knew I was going to be in the horse business in some way,” Kraut said.
And today, she is involved in a big way. Primarily competing on the international jumping scene, Kraut spends a majority of her year in Europe, and attends and competes in the bigger events in show jumping such as Nation’s Cups, Global Champion Tours Shows and other national events. She also does compete in smaller shows to help train and prepare younger horses.
“We compete where we need to,” she said.
Perhaps one of the most thrilling competitions for Kraut has been the Olympic Games, representing Team USA. She was an alternate for the 1992 games in Barcelona; and on the team that competed in Sydney, Australia, in 2000. However, in 2008, she was part of the 4-person squad that captured the coveted gold medal for Team USA in jumping in Hong Kong.
“Obviously, that is a dream come true for any athlete! To win a gold medal, all the hard work had finally paid off. It was just a great moment,” Kraut said.
And it takes a lot of hard work, especially for someone at Kraut’s caliber that competes regularly. While in Europe, she flies once or twice a week to get to shows, so keeping herself healthy and in good physical shape is a top priority. She tries to visit the gym as often as possible to stay in shape. Keeping her horses healthy and happy is just as important because of the physical endurance they are put through, she said. However, at most shows she only gets to show three or four horses, so they all get some breaks.
“It is important to keep them healthy and fit for them to do their job,” Kraut said.
One way she keeps them healthy is with Vitalize® Alimend®, a natural supplement that supports gastric health and GI tissue in horses. Vitalize Alimend is a unique blend of: MHB3® Hyaluronan, H. erinaceous (Lion’s mane) extract, and Amaferm®. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying nutrient supply for maximum performance. It is research-proven to significantly increase intake, digestion, and absorption improving gut health, as well as boost animal resilience to challenges.
She first heard of Vitalize Alimend from an event/physio expert who recommended the product after Kraut got in a new horse that she describes as in “poor, poor condition.”
“We did try the Alimend, and the results were miraculous, little by little – it took some time – maybe a few months. You wouldn’t recognize him today. His coat is beautiful. He’s got dapples, he’s got weight,” she said about the turnaround of her horse.
She shared a similar experience about a 6-year-old mare she got in from Holland. The horse was underweight and was a picky eater. She added Alimend to her feed, and eventually the mare started eating, and started to feel better and look healthier. The mare blossomed, had a brightness about her haircoat, skin and eyes, and was overall healthier and generally felt better, according to Kraut.
“We put the Alimend in the feed, which is what you do. That is one of the really great things about the product; it is easy to feed to them; they like to eat it. Results don’t happen in a week. It takes time,” she said. “We’re a big believer in it.”
Since Kraut and her team had such good experiences with bringing horses back from underweight conditions with the Alimend, they decided perhaps the product would be good to add to all their horses feed, to keep them feeling healthy from a proactive standpoint. She said it has helped keep their digestive systems working properly, which helps keep the horses competing. Most of her clients feed it as well.
“Comparatively to some other stomach products, it is a much better value. For what you get, it is priceless. It isn’t super expensive, and all the horses will eat it. It’s not something you have to squirt in their mouth. Put it in their grain, and the horses will eat it,” Kraut said of the benefits of Alimend. “So many supplements are on the market for everything. I feel like it is one of the supplements you can really see make a difference, which makes you as the owner or the rider feel better. You can see you are really helping the horse.”
While she is keeping her horses feeling good, Kraut is also working on her next goal – representing Team USA in the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. With the right horse and a good day, she will once again have that opportunity.
When she isn’t training or competing, she is coaching the next generation of show jumpers. She offers this advice to young equestrians, but it can apply to most aspects of life.
“As in anything, be prepared for a lot of long hours, a lot of hard work, a lot of frustration and a lot of reward. Whether it is in the showring, or just being affiliated with horses or the people around them, if you are super talented and a little bit lucky, you will probably get to do things you never even imagined. If you aren’t super talented, there will be a point you’ll find out what your niche is and still get to be involved in the sport some way. For me there is no better industry in the world than being in the horse business,” Kraut said.
Pursue your passion, just like Kraut did. You never know where hard work and perseverance will take you.