On June 27 Danish dressage rider Lars Petersen received Fédération Equestre Internationale approval to change his nationality and compete for the United States.
Petersen has lived in the United States for more than a decade, married U.S. rider and trainer Melissa Taylor in 2013, and has been a U.S. citizen since February 2016. He could have applied to change his nationality sooner, but he held off to ride Marcia Pepper’s mare Mariett in CDIs. Mariett was officially retired in February, and Petersen said that spurred his decision to apply for a nationality change.
“It was just the right time. Now the waiting period doesn’t affect me as much,” said Petersen, Loxahatchee, Fla., referring to the mandatory two-year gap between when a rider competed for a previous country at a major senior championship or on a CDIO Nations Cup team and when said rider can compete for a new country at those same types of competitions.
Petersen will retain his dual Danish citizenship, but his plans for the future revolve around his family and business in the United States. He’s ridden for Denmark at Olympic Games, World Cup Finals and the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France), and he’s aiming to work his way back to international competition.
“We have a lot of young horses,” he said. “We make our own—we don’t buy them—so we’re training them up, and that takes a long time if you do it right, but we keep going.
“It won’t be easier to get on the American team,” Petersen added, “but it will be easier overall because I won’t have to go to Denmark to do the European Championships while also trying to run my business and worry about things at home. Melissa does a great job of taking care of everything, but it will be much better when I can stay home.”
Friends and supporters have had various reactions to the news.
“There are some Danish people disappointed, asking me why, but they know why in their hearts,” said Petersen, 51. “I am married here; I have citizenship here; my business and my life is here. I’m not going back, so why shouldn’t I ride for the country I consider my home?”