The temperature heated up and so did the competition on June 18 in the Collecting Gaits Farm/U.S. Equestrian Federation Grand Prix Championship. But Steffen Peters emerged with a hat trick of victories aboard Floriano, winning the Grand Prix freestyle on a score of 83.25 percent.
Peters also secured a spot for himself on the U.S. dressage team for the 2006 World Equestrian games, as did Guenter Seidel by winning the overall reserve championship. The selectors met after the competition to start the process of determining four more riders for the short list.
Peters expressed surprise over his triumphant weekend. “I felt good after the Grand Prix, but you never want to be too confident,” he said. “Today I came in a little bit more relaxed. I was happy that Floriano had so much energy and felt so healthy.”
He choreographed the freestyle in 2004, and Terry Ciotto-Gallo put the music together. Every footfall was planned as Floriano trotted along to Fleetwood Mac. “There was no room for error, no room for improvisation,” said Peters.
The double canter pirouettes were a highlight of Floriano’s performance, as was his flawless obedience and expression throughout the weekend.
Seidel wasn’t as enthusiastic about Aragon’s performance over the weekend. “He was not as good here as I expected,” he said. “But it was good enough!”
Aragon and Seidel placed fourth in the freestyle (77.60%) behind Leslie Morse on Tip Top 962 (79.10%) and Arlene Page on Wild One (77.95%). But the freestyle is weighted the least of the three tests, so his scores from the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special helped him capture the reserve spot.
Morse was ecstatic about her freestyle performance. “It was brand new choreography,” she said. “I wanted to make some changes because it takes a few freestyles to decide what the highlights are.”
As usual, the most dangerous part of the weekend was the prize-giving ceremony to honor the winners. Floriano took exception to the flag bearers and stood straight up on his hind legs at one point and backed into Tip Top while waiting to go in. But no one was injured.
Just as Peters dominated the Grand Prix classes, Michelle Gibson and Lex Barker controlled the Intermediaire I championship. They continued their winning ways with an outstanding freestyle victory (78.70%).
“I was desperately looking for music that hadn’t been done,” said Gibson about her music choice, a medley from the soundtrack of Mr. And Mrs. Smith. The thrilling music fit the powerful Lex Barker.
Gibson packed her freestyle with difficulty including steep half-passes and canter pirouettes on the centerline to two-tempi changes.
It was only the third time Gibson has ridden her freestyle. “It went along really smoothly,” she said. “I got ahead at the extended canter, but it worked out just fine. It’s a miracle!”
Katherine Poulin-Neff rode into second place, both in the freestyle and overall on Brilliant Too. They performed to a medley of ragtime tunes, and the diminutive homebred (he’s only 15.1 hands) proved that he can clearly hold his own with the big boys.
“I’m just happy to be here,” said a smiling Poulin-Neff. “I came with no expectations whatsoever. I just wanted to stay consistent and do a good job.”
Poulin-Neff was pleased to celebrate Father’s Day with a win for her dad, Olympian Michael Poulin, who came to support her.
Jan Ebeling placed third in the freestyle and ended up third overall in the Intermediaire I championship with Rafalca.
Grand Prix Freestyle Results
1. Floriano, Steffen Peters (83.25%)
2. Tip Top 962, Leslie Morse (79.10%)
3. Wild One, Arlene Page (77.95%)
4. Aragon, Guenter Seidel (77.60%)
5. Arabella, Heather Blitz (72.75%)
6. Cooper, Suzanne Dansby Phelps (72.40%)
7. Jazzman, Donna Richardson (72.35%)
8. Succes, Melissa Taylor (72.25%)
9. Basquewille, Mette Rosencrantz (70.55%)
10. Marnix, George Williams (69.75%)
11. BeSe, Catherine Morelli (69.65%)
12. Eminence, Lisette Milner (69.25%)
Grand Prix Championship
1. Floriano, Steffen Peters (77.20)
2. Aragon, Guenter Seidel (73.39)
3. Tip Top, Leslie Morse (73.23)
4. Wild One, Arlene Page (71.72)
5. Arabella, Heather Blitz (69.21)
6. Cooper, Suzanne Dansby Phelps (68.15)
Intermediaire Freestyle Results
1. Lex Barker, Michelle Gibson (78.70%)
2. Brilliant Too, Katherine Poulin-Neff (75.50%)
3. Rafalca, Jan Ebeling (74.15%)
4. Fandango, Marie Meyers (72.30%)
5. Wellington, Melissa Jackson (72.00%)
6. Regent, Christopher Hickey (71.10%)
7. Princeton, Guenter Seidel (70.30%)
8. Lyra, Christine Rivlin-Henke (68.95%)
9. Schumacker Solyst, Melissa Taylor (67.15%)
10. Fountainebleau, Teri Hallman (65.65%)
11. Millenium, Silke Rembacz (65.20%)
12. Avant-Garde, Nicole Bellah (64.45%)
Intermediaire I Championship
1. Lex Barker, Michelle Gibson (73.43)
2. Brilliant Too, Katherine Poulin-Neff (70.26)
3. Rafalca, Jan Ebeling (70.07)
4. Fandango, Marie Meyers (69.59)
5. Wellington, Melissa Jackson (69.50)
6. Princeton, Guenter Seidel (69.46)