While she was growing up in suburban Thornhill, Ontario, not even a celebrity psychic could have predicted Lesley Grant-Law’s future as half of one of the eventing world’s most popular power couples. She and husband Leslie Law of Great Britain, veteran international eventer and individual gold and team silver medallist at the 2004 Olympics, operate Law Eventing in Ocala, Florida, and keep a busy schedule riding and competing their own horses, teaching clients, and attending son Liam’s soccer games. Lesley has been short- or long-listed to the Canadian team numerous times, including last year with Harthill Diamond.
Her family was non-horsey and didn’t own any animals. A family friend rode, so young Lesley asked if she could take lessons. She started riding at Eglinton Equestrian Club, then Leitchcroft Farm as well.
“That’s how the madness began,” Lesley says. As a teenager, she worked for eventer and breeder Garry Roque, moved up the levels in eventing and competed at the North American Young Riders’ Championships. Despite her love for horses and riding talent, to please her parents she attended York University and earned an honours degree in international relations and philosophy and a masters in human rights. But horses prevailed.
“I was a passionate scholar and was desperate to make my parents happy … but in the end, I realized I had to live for myself and my passion for horses was more important than anything else for me,” Lesley says. “Although school was very useful as far as running a business later on, so I don’t regret a day of it, really. It’s also made me very well-rounded and good for talking to at a cocktail party!”
She worked for a time at Kingridge Stables and Mill Creek Stables, then for Bruce Davidson. She racked up a lengthy list of achievements in the early 2000s with the Thoroughbred mare Snappy, her first advanced horse, and Timber Spirit, an English Thoroughbred. With Timber Spirit she competed twice at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* (now 5*) in 2005 and 2006. They were named to the Canadian Team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but days before they were to leave, the horse suffered an injury. “I got close in 2008 and it sure stung a bit,” she admits.
Lesley met her husband Leslie at the 2005 Rolex in Kentucky and the rest followed in her typical gung-ho fashion. They started Law Eventing in 2005/2006, married in Aruba in 2007 and Liam was born in 2009. Lesley spent a good part of her pregnancy recovering from surgery for a badly broken leg incurred at a one-star event in Ocala.
Now a typical day for the Laws involves riding their own horses in the morning, with afternoons devoted to teaching lessons. “Our business is one-third clinics and camps, one-third sales and one-third the home farm,” says Lesley.
Lesley says that 95 per cent of the time it’s a pleasure to work with her spouse. “We know each other so well. Clearly, Leslie is a world-class rider and I have gotten quite good on the floor myself, so we are very helpful to each other both on the flat and over jumps. We are both very intellectual when it comes to riding and love the continued learning and striving for perfection, so we enjoy spending the time together.”
But she admits “being married to any equestrian professional that is passionate and dedicated and ambitious is a pain in the butt. So we are both subjected to that.”
Although she’s been tutored by some of the best in the business, her husband is her most influential mentor. “Leslie has taught me the most about riding and the mentality of a rider and the reality of the riding life,” she says. “That said, I would like to thank everyone along the way, especially Garry, who put up with me for years when I was a teen and perhaps not my best person yet. I also owe something to Hugh Graham, who taught me to canter 100 canter poles a week. I thought he was a jerk at the start, but I thank God for him now.”
While Leslie brings his riding wisdom, his wife’s business savvy has been instrumental in establishing Law Eventing. “Business-wise, I have taught myself,” says Lesley. “In the riding world you are around a lot of fake businesses where the riding part doesn’t need to make money, and is usually losing money as it’s an offshoot of a real business. It is more a hobby or it is subsidized by a wealthy family member or friend. But I need to make money, as that lottery win hasn’t come my way yet!”
While aspirations still exist to represent Canada on the international squad, she remains pragmatic. “I would still very much like to ride on the team, but I can’t afford for it to be my primary focus. My focus has to be on the business always being first.”
Even as she concentrates on being the best businesswoman she can be, she continues to strive to be the best rider possible.“I have been getting help from some of the very best in the business,” she says. “From Leslie of course, but also Christilot Boylen and George Morris, so I am very lucky and feel that my riding has really come on. That is very inspiring for me.”
Son Liam, 9, does know how to ride, but his passion is soccer. “That’s great for his dad as being English, Leslie is all about the soccer.” Liam has also been part of a hip-hop group for three years. “I tell him he will get all the girls when he’s older as he will know how to dance and his parents own horses,” Lesley jokes.
Her long-term vision for Law Eventing is to “have a small handful of really class horses at the three-star to five-star level and be successful with them. Other than that, my goals are to continue to have our business run as successfully as it is now for many years, and to raise a happy family.”