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September 8, 2011

Ravel Shines In Adverse Conditions At Festival Of Champions

Steffen Peters rode Ravel to a 77.66 percent and first in the Grand Prix test at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions.

Gladstone, N.J., Sept. 8

Steffen Peters and Ravel have faced tough competition of all kinds, from the 2008 Olympic Games to the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup (Nev.) to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.) But today at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions, Peters’ toughest adversary proved to be the weather, which opened up in a deluge of rain shortly before his test and poured throughout.

“What I wrote on Ravel’s test was, first of all, ‘Great job.’ And then, ‘Now you know he’s a mudder,” said Axel Steiner, FEI O-level judge who sat at C in the Grand Prix test.

The rain didn’t stop Ravel and Peters, Del Mar, Calif., from winning the Grand Prix test on a score of 77.66 percent over Tina Konyot on Calecto V (69.78%) and Shawna Harding on Come On III (67.78%). While the officials decided to postpone the Prix St. Georges for a day, they opted to finish the Grand Prix test this afternoon after checking radar reports and examining the footing conditions.

“I really trusted the decision that Axel made,” said Peters. “We were down in the warm-up arena, and the steward was checking with the group up here, and Axel said, ‘Let’s do it. It’s safe.’ It was not slippery. I think the horses felt like they were a little more stuck in this footing, but it was not slippery. I went for a clean test, and that worked out great.

“Ravel didn’t get distracted. He’s such a good trouper,” Peters added. “He still showed up and did what he usually does. It sounded bad in the covered arena because there’s a lot of noise. You look outside and said, ‘Yeah it’s bad, but let’s go ahead and deal with it.’ ”

Watch video of Ravel's winning Grand Prix ride:

Peters and Ravel, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango—Hautain, Democraat) owned by Akiko Yamazaki, put in a mostly clean test, with the only minor errors coming during the tempi changes. Konyot’s Calecto V, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II—Bahera, Rastell), also had errors in his tempi changes—as did most of the other horses today, including Harding’s.  

“We care so much about our horses,” said Konyot. “We don’t want to push for the utmost. We’re all trying to be conservative to care for our animals. The footing holds you, almost like a suction cup.”

“The centerline was looking too pooled up with water [in the two-tempis],” added Harding about her mistakes. “[Come On] tripped in the ones, and then he got them. The footing did wear him down, and I could feel it was difficult in the pirouettes; he wasn’t able to jump around. I think they’re doing the best they can with the circumstances that they have. We’re trying to laugh it off and have a good time.”

Konyot, Wellington, Fla., noted that with two slick leather reins on her bridle, she had issues keeping proper contact. “I had to wrap my curb rein around my index finger,” she said. “Guenter [Seidel] said to put a little sand in my hands. Definitely I’m getting rubber reins and a handful of sand to hang onto my reins.”

Steiner agreed that some of Konyot’s minor mistakes in the Grand Prix were likely due to the unusual weather circumstances.

“I think Tina is very consistent. She wouldn’t have made the boo-boos she made except for the weather. He used to be high behind, and she’s managed that much better. He has less holes. She’s doing a fine job with him. He’s just a little different. He’s a stallion who has his own ideas sometimes. So does she. They’re assets to the sport,” said Steiner.

Harding, Aiken, S.C., was pleased with Come On III’s results today, especially compared to the pair’s showing at last year’s Festival. She is also showing Rigo in the Intermediaire I Championship, hoping for a spot on the U.S. team for the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“He’s growing up and becoming stronger and stronger,” Harding said of Come On, a 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Come Back II—Canna, Lantaan). “I had the opportunity to go to World Cup this year, and I had a terrific time. It’s a huge experience and such an eye-opener not only for the horse, but also for the rider.”

Beemer Bags Brentina Cup Win

Caroline Roffman is fresh off three reserve championships at the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships and looking to take home a title from the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival Of Championships. But if her weekend continues like today, she’ll be second no more. Roffman and Beemer topped the Brentina Cup test in the Young Rider Grand Prix Championship today with a 65.17 percent over Heather Ann Beachem on Windsong and Olivia Lagoy-Weltz on Rifallino.

“My horse really put his best foot forward in the trot tour,” said Roffman of Wellington, Fla. “I was really pleased with that. I was really happy with the piaffe and passage in the test. The canter tour was a little bit messy, but that was totally my doing. He was really good. He was a little bit looky at some things, but he was very rideable in there. The mistakes were all mine.”

Roffman’s excellent weekend at the young horse championships did mean she was away from Beemer, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Laudatio—All Day Long, Aldatus) owned by Global Dressage Sales LLC, for about 10 days.

“I flew back to Florida, and then Beemer left for here because that was the only trailer I could get him on,” said Roffman. “I went home and rode all the client horses for a week, and I’ve only ridden Beemer five days in the last 2½ weeks. It’s a little hard to transition from the young horses. It’s a different ride—it’s a totally different thing. It took me a day to get back into, ‘OK, now I’m an upper level rider.’ ”

This is Roffman’s first year in the Brentina Cup, and she wasn’t even sure she’d get to compete in the championships since Beemer is a sales horse.

“I was hoping, but at the same time I hope he gets sold to a really great home. I think he could do anything,” said Roffman, 23.

“I watched Liz Austin do [the Brentina Cup], and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do some day.’ It’s a great program. It puts you in the right path to go up the levels. I was very excited and honored to make it here,” she continued.

Ann Beachem, 22, rode her own Windsong, a 15-year-old Hanoverian (Weltmeyer—Lara) into second with a 63.89 percent with the help of trainer Karen Lipp.

“It’s me and my horse’s first year at Grand Prix,” said Beachem. “It’s intimidating. Even doing the Brentina Cup can be intimidating. Doing the piaffe and passage and the ones and learning it all and feeling it all is tough, but Karen has made it so easy. She has the best ringside attitude and keeps me really motivated and excited.”

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