“Just look at those big doe eyes,” Steffen Peters said. “She’s just precious.” It’s obvious he’s smitten with the elegant bay staring back just as lovingly from her stall door.
As a perennial anchor for the U.S. dressage team, Peters has ridden in three Olympic Games, three World Equestrian Games, four World Cup Finals and two Pan American Games aboard great mounts including Udon, Floriano, Weltino’s Magic, Legolas 92 and the legendary Ravel. But in Peters’ San Diego barn full of stars, it is the light of a young mare named Rosamunde with an endearing in-your-pocket happy personality that perhaps shines the brightest. And the American dressage community is quickly falling as much in love with her as Peters has.
Four Winds Farm’s Rheinlander mare Rosamunde (known as “Rosie”) burst upon the international dressage scene in 2014 when she was nearly undefeated in the CDI small tour both in the United States and Europe and claimed the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Intermediaire I Championship at first asking. Despite being only 8 years old (turning 9 in May 2016), undeniable talent won out over her tender age as she and Peters took the Grand Prix division by storm in 2015, earning nine international wins in Florida, California, Germany and Austria. Now Rosamunde is considered to be a top prospect for the U.S. team, perhaps as soon as for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Here are a few reasons for you to fall in love with Rosie too:
- She loves her treats. “I always make sure that there are plenty of apples and carrots around—I get the big 25-pound bags at the grocery. She also loves her bananas, but I have to peel them for her,” said Peters with a laugh. “And only organic of course—only the best for Rosie! I always make a point of spoiling her a bit. All the pampering is well-deserved in my opinion.”
- Rosie’s favorite vehicle is a four-wheeler. “I’ll drive down to the barn in the afternoons on the four-wheeler, and the horses know the sound of the engine and that treats are coming. She has a paddock attached to her stall, so she’ll get all excited and jump around. It’s hard to get Rosie past any four-wheeler now without her looking for a snack,” Peters said.
Rosie loves to be pampered, shown here being braided by groom Eddie Garcia.
- Don’t get between Rosie and the cookie bin, especially at shows. “After a training session at home I can take her bridle right off in the arena, and she walks over to where the four-wheeler is parked, and she knows how to flip open the lid of the cookie bin that’s attached to the back of it, so she just helps herself every day,” Peters explained. “At the shows she’ll come out of the ring, and obviously we can’t just take her bridle off, so she’ll literally try to drag you over to the bin. She’s quite the cookie monster actually.”
- Guard your food around Rosie. During COTH’s visit, a visitor had the audacity to snack on some vegetables within her sight. In a mini tantrum of pawing the doorway and dramatically tossing her head, Rosie DEMANDED to have a bite. You’ve been warned.
“Cookie Monster” Rosie spots her next victim. If visitors have food within her sight, she will DEMAND to have a bite.
- Rosie wants all eyes on her, all the time. “She’s quite a talker with lots of nickering,” Peters said. “At home, there’s a small ledge on the outside of her stall where it borders her paddock, and she loves to put her front feet up on it to look over the rail and watch everything that’s going on and try to get your attention.”
- But the person she most wants attention from is Peters, who she is obviously very attached to. Peters explained that she recognizes the sound of his footsteps long before he is within sight. He demonstrated how he can simply say her name, and the mare will immediately stop whatever she is doing to come to him.
- “She really is the sweetest horse in the barn and the kindest horse I’ve ever ridden,” noted Peters. “Ravel was incredibly generous under saddle, but there were times in the stall when he wanted to be left alone. He could be a little stand-offish. But she’s never met a stranger.”
- She’s a licker. If anyone is within reach Rosie will offer to lick your hand, and when Peters sits in front of her stall at shows, she’ll even lick his face to the delight of onlookers.
- It was love at first sight for Peters when he saw a sale video of Rosie from Europe in 2013. “I always say that if the horse’s gaits and expression make you want to get on a plane that day, then you should do that,” Peters explained. “Her gaits were so wonderful and floating with so much cadence. I often describe it as, ‘Gravity is just a suggestion to her.’ I just kept hoping that when I actually got on her, that it would still be a good feeling, and it was. Right from the start we had a wonderful connection. You just know.”
- Despite her charms, Rosie is allowed the occasional diva moment. “As she’s matured, she seems to realize how good she is,” said equine physical therapist Tom Meyers. “She gets snarky when other horses walk by because she wants as much attention as that horse is getting.”
A rare sighting of “Snarky Rosie” is only possible if other horses are receiving attention instead of her.
- She loves her physical therapy—sometimes a little too much. “We’ll be outside using the cold laser on her muscles as part of her regular program, and all of a sudden she’ll just lay down in the sun in the middle of the session to take a break,” said Meyers. “She’s so trusting. She sprawls out like she’s sunbathing at the beach. And I just have to wait for her to finish her nap.”
- Defying any mareish preconceptions, Rosie always goes to work with a smile on her face. “She wants to go all the time. She’s such an over-achiever and is a bundle of energy, but it’s never in a negative way. From the very first time I rode her, there was never, ever a day where she had an attitude about work or said ‘no’ to anything,” Peters explained. “I just feel that horses with this much of an outgoing and positive personality end up being the best performers in the arena because they give so much of themselves for you every single time.”
- Rosie is an excellent student, and the judges love her for it. “I’ve never had a horse this young be so confident in her work—the movements are almost easy for her. The way she does all this with such an amazing attitude is astounding, and the judges always remark about it because it’s so obvious for them to see,” said Peters. “But it’s not just in the ring she exudes this happiness—it’s all the time. She’s such a happy horse by nature about every little thing.”
Rosie is just a happy horse at heart.
- Rosie reminds Peters of a very special horse in his life, Ravel. “That first day I tried her, it was the first of many déjà vu moments that I’ve had because she gives the same impression and feeling I had with ‘The King,’ ” he said. “Rosie has the same kind of power and this beautiful soft connection that is very similar. When we retired Ravel I didn’t think I would ever get that feeling in the show arena again, but now I do.”
- And perhaps it is because of this resemblance that Rosie is the teacher’s pet. “I just adore her,” said Peters. “I’m reluctant to admit it because I have had (and continue to have) some incredible horses, but she may be my favorite.”