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$25,000 Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize

Carol Lavell and Gifted -
Photo Courtesy of Bob Langrish

The Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize 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. 

Carol achieved high marks in all phases of dressage – an Olympian, rider, competitor, trainer, teacher, judge – and with her legendary horse, Gifted, 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.

Grant Information:

The purpose of the Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize, established at The Dressage Foundation in 2005, is to provide financial assistance for coaching and training to talented, committed, qualified riders with plans to reach and excel at the elite, international standards of high-performance dressage.

Up to two prizes will be available annually in the amount of $25,000 each, to riders who are US citizens, over 21 years of age and above, and are selected by a distinguished national panel of Dressage leaders. 

Applicant Criteria:

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen. 
  • Must be 21 years old or above.
  • Must be competing successfully at Prix. St. Georges or higher.
  • Must be a model of horsemanship and sportsmanship. 
  • Must be a rider whose horse teammate has the potential to grow and succeed at the FEI Levels. 

Additional Grant Information:

  • Funding cannot be used for the purchase of a horse or equipment. 
  • An individual can receive a grant from this Fund more than one time.
  • The committee reserves the right to not award a grant in any given year if they determine that no candidate has met the criteria. Funds would then be held until the following year. 
  • The applications and discussions of the selection committee are confidential and their decisions are final.
  • If the grant recipient is unable to participate in the 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.

Applications must be received by our office on or before August 31st of each year to be considered. No late applications will be accepted. 
The application link can be found in the right-hand sidebar (desktop computers) or by scrolling down (mobile).

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

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.