Skip to main content

$25,000 Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize

Carol Lavell and Gifted -
Photo Courtesy of Bob Langrish

The purpose of the Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize is to provide financial assistance for coaching and training to talented, committed, proven horse and rider combinations with plans to reach and excel at the elite, international standards of high-performance dressage. Up to two Prizes may be awarded annually.  

Amount of Grant: $25,000 

Application Deadline: August 31 

Carol Lavell achieved excellence in all phases of dressage – as an Olympian, rider, competitor, trainer, teacher, and judge. With her legendary horse, Gifted, she brought pride and honor to our country through her performance on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team. Carol knew firsthand the work, sacrifice, and struggle necessary to make it to the top of the dressage world. Through the creation of these $25,000 Prizes, she wanted to help other deserving riders who aspire to climb this high-performance mountain. 

Applicant Requirements: 

Applicant must: 

  • Be a U.S. Citizen.  
  • Have declared the United States as the rider’s Sport Nationality with US Equestrian and/or the FEI. 
  • Be 21 years or older. 
  • Be competing successfully at Prix St. Georges or higher (with at least three scores of 65% or higher at Prix St. Georges or higher). 
  • Have a detailed and attainable training plan. 
  • Be a model of horsemanship and sportsmanship.  
  • Be a rider whose horse teammate has the potential to grow and succeed Internationally. 

Additional Grant Information: 

  • Training funded by this grant can start no sooner than two months after the application deadline date.  
  • Funding can be used for training, board, and competition but cannot be used only for competition. Funding cannot be used for vet and/or farrier expenses, living expenses, or the purchase of a horse or equipment.     
  • The recipients of this grant must use the funds within two years of the date of the award.    
  • Recipients are chosen by an independent selection committee comprised of dressage professionals who have had international success. The applications and discussions of the selection committee are confidential, and their decisions are final. 
  • The selection committee reserves the right not to award a grant in any given year if they determine that no candidate has met the criteria.  
  • If the grant recipient is unable to attend the event/training specified in their application, The Dressage Foundation must be notified as soon as possible. Approval for a change in the use of funds is at the discretion of The Dressage Foundation and the grant selection committee. 
  • An individual can only receive one $25,000 grant from The Dressage Foundation each calendar year.     

Reporting Information: 

  • For all recipients, 75% of grant funds will be paid prior to the recipient’s departure for training; 25% will be paid after the applicant has completed training and has submitted a training and financial report to The Dressage Foundation. 
  • The recipients of the grants are required to provide a training and financial report of their experience to The Dressage Foundation. The reports may be written, video, photo journal, or in other ways pre-approved by The Dressage Foundation. The report is due within two months following the completion of the training.  
  • Throughout their training, recipients are encouraged to share training/event updates with The Dressage Foundation via email or tag The Dressage Foundation on social media.   

History of the Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize:  

The Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize, established in 2009, was initially funded by Carol Lavell, her friends, and family, in special remembrance of her mother, May Cadwgan, and in honor of her father, Gordon Cadwgan. 

Past Recipients
2009: Jan Brons 
2010: Courtney King-Dye
2011: Shawna Harding
2012: Heather Mason
2013: Adrienne Lyle and Sharon McCusker
2014: Brian Hafner and Kathleen Raine
2015: Olivia LaGoy-Weltz
2016: Laura Graves
2017: Sabine Schut-Kery
2018: Alyssa Pitts and Sabine Schut-Kery
2019: Lehua Custer
2020: Lehua Custer, Kelly Coyne, and Kristina Harrison-Antell
2021: Claire Darnell and Amelia Newcomb
2022: Emily Miles and Jennifer Williams
2023: Laura Graves, Ali Potasky, Genay Vaughn

A Note from Carol Lavell
Written when the Prize was established in 2009

For aspiring international riders, pressure to achieve their goals can become a great burden. Each must deal with competition nerves, learn how to use failure as motivation instead of termination, and perhaps find time to meet the demands of a family when the demands of the goal require months away from home.

For most, obtaining financial support becomes the ultimate hurdle. Some find that this goal can only be achieved by competitive success. Yet, success cannot be without failure along the way: Gifted was last in his first European Grand Prix. I discovered that “acceptance” was not my strong suit. When an international trainer announced at dinner, “You know, Carol, your horse will never win a medal with you riding,” I got motivation!

Being last was past, but it would take more time, more coaching, training, and more dollars. The road to the top is very difficult: some ways are bumpier than others, some are more crooked, and some are dead ends. My Olympic dream came true only because my road was paved with many generous supporters who gave not only dollars, but also tack, equipment, and even discounted transportation.

I hope this Prize will smooth the bumps for those deserving riders and horses on the road to their dreams.