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Written by J. Drake

Every so often, a truly remarkable horse shows up. Gifted was just such a horse. He was most known for his partnership with Dressage rider Carol Lavell, winning several internationally recognized events over the course of their career together.

Born in 1980, the bay Hanoverian gelding stood at 17.3hands at the withers when he was done growing. Carol originally purchased Gifted as an untrained four year old from a German horse dealer. When having a conversation about him with Michael Poulin, Michael called him "gifted" and it then became his name.

Carol started out taking him to shows along with her older horses to help him gain experience. She was faced with a challenge to train him as he was so big that it made it difficult at times. He also was not a big fan of people in his stall or being touched or groomed. By taking care of Gifted herself, Carol was able to learn about him and form a strong bond with the gelding.

After working with him a year, she and Gifted made their debut at a Grand Prix on the European dressage circuit. After this tour, Gifted then went on to capture a gold medal at the North American Dressage Championships in Canada and the pair were on their way to making history.

In 1990, Gifted and Carol ended up in eleventh place at the World Championships. The following year he was given the award of being the USDF Horse of the Year at the Grand Prix level. The pair also become the first Americans ever to win the Hermes International Dressage Show Grand Prix in England.

The United States had been lacking in dressage stars in recent years until Gifted showed up and worked his way into America's heart. His large size was unusual for a dressage horse but he was described as being light on his feet. His flying changes and extended trot wow-ed crowds all over the world and gave the U.S. dressage team strength it had been lacking. Together, Gifted and Carol helped to break the twelve-year dry spell of medals at the Olympics by bringing home a team bronze in 1992 at the Barcelona Games. Two years later, the pair headed to the World Equestrian Games in 1994 and helped to bring home another team bronze medal.

In January of 1997, at the age of seventeen, Gifted was eutahnized and laid to rest. In his honor, a scholarship program was set up in his name to help young dressage riders pursure their dressage goals. Each year the Gifted Fund provides scholarships to help adult amateurs set aside time for concentrated training with a horse they own and with a trainer of choice away from the pressures of a job and family and other stresses of life.

Gifted Facts:

Sire: Garibaldi II
Dam: Lola
Color: Bay
Markings: Blaze and four white stockings
Owner & Rider: Carol Lavell
Favorites Treats: grapefruit, pears and red beets.
1997 Inducted into the USDF Hall of Fame
1994 World Championships, Holland
1994 U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) National Grand Prix Reserve Champion
1993 5th, World Cup, Holland
1992 Team Bronze, Individual 6th, Olympic Games, Barcelona, Spain
1992 4th, Volvo World Cup, Sweden
1991 USET National Grand Prix Champion
1991 U.S. Dressage Federation (USDF) Horse of the Year at Grand Prix
1990 World Championships, Sweden
1989 USET National Grand Prix Reserve Champion
1987 USET National Prix St. George Champion
1988 USDF Horse of the Year at Intermediate I Level
1987 USDF Horse of the Year at Fourth Level
1986 USDF Horse of the Year at Third Level
1985 USDF Horse of the Year at Second Level

Other Intersting Information:
In 1993 a life-sized portrait of Gifted was produced by artist, Patricia Powers. The massive 8' x 11' oil painting was originally unveiled in Saratoga Spings and then proceeded to go on tour from New York to California. The painting was scheduled to be returned to Carol Lavell in 1998, as Patricia wanted her to have it when its tour ended, but the painting was never seen again after its last stop at a gallery in California. The search for Gifted's painting is still an on-going investigation.

Gifted at Devon, 1991