Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 7
Steffen Peters was a little apprehensive about how Suppenkasper would handle his first Friday Night Lights at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, but from the moment he started going around the ring, rising in trot and stretching the gelding down, he knew it would be a good ride.
The pair posted a personal best Grand Prix score yesterday, and did it again in the freestyle, winning the CDI-W with an 83.49 percent.
“Mopsie,” a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Spielberg—Upanoeska, IPS Krack C) owned by Four Winds Farm, was with Peters the entire time in the electric atmosphere, and their score earned them a place at the FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas in April.
Peters’ freestyle features some of his 2009 World Cup champion Ravel’s canter music, along with a few tweaks from last year. “It’s one of those freestyles that I’ve visualized for many days and many mornings and many nights, through dark times. It worked out beautifully,” he said.
Peters has been open in the last year about his struggles with anxiety and depression, and he’s come to the competition season with a refreshed outlook.
With a warmup routine down pat for Mopsie, Peters just has to focus on his performance. He was able to get permission from show organizers to walk Mopsie around during freestyle night for the last two CDIs to get him used to the atmosphere and the music.
“For me, honestly there were zero nerves because it doesn’t help to worry about it whatsoever. Most likely it’s counter productive,” he said. “It used to grind on me a whole lot more, waiting an entire day, but I’ve learned so much during the last year that I don’t react so much anymore to my environment. I think the other way around, it’s almost as if the environment needs to react to me. It was a huge learning curve through the last year. I’ve been extremely calm, and that’s a huge accomplishment for myself, and that’s how we hopefully move forward to bigger competitions and hopefully to Tokyo.”
As he finished his final halt, Peters wiped away some tears and exited the ring waving to the crowd and touching people’s hands along the rail.
“There were a few tears that I wiped away, and I kept telling Mopsie, ‘It looks like we’re going to Vegas.’ I told him that a bunch of times,” he said. “I think I was a bit more excited than he was, but the bottom line—it was huge accomplishment, something we dream about every single day. It’s not just here and there—every single day. It’s hard to describe what that feels like, when you go through a difficult time, and your horse is so therapeutic and gets better and better and puts you into such a wonderful place. At the end of the day, so far Mopsie has been my least expensive therapist. He doesn’t charge me $300 an hour, so that’s great.”
It’s taken two years, but Ashley Holzer and Mango Eastwood finally cantered down centerline in a CDI today at AGDF. After winning their national Grand Prix debut in January, the pair topped the CDI3* today, scoring a 72.76 percent.
Holzer said she couldn’t believe she’d made it and was thrilled that the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Wynton—Bambina) had her back in the ring when other horses might not.
“We’ve had some hitches along the way, but we got into a really good program starting this summer, and the horse is just slowly coming into his own,” she said. “I’ve always loved him. He’s incredible, powerful and has a wonderful character. He’s a little spicy, as we call him in the barn, but he’s very honest and has a true heart, and he’s lovely to ride.
“When I tell you I’m over the moon—you have no idea,” she added. “This is such a dream come true. You talk about horses that you think are your dream, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, and then all of a sudden it turns around and looks like it might be your dream after all. The owner [Dianne Fellows] and I, we’re thrilled.”
Spanish rider Jordi Domingo Coll rode the gelding in young horse classes and did a young horse Grand Prix with him when he was 9 before Holzer got the ride two years ago.
“It was so fun to go in today and feel him—he’s green, but he is such a trier,” said Holzer. “I’ve been cantering in and making him halt because he’s fidgety, and of course it was the last thing I did before I went in, and I gave him sugar to try to make him happy that he was standing so still. I came down centerline, and he was like, ‘Don’t we halt here?’ in the piaffe. I was like, ‘No!’ The second you put your legs in he’s like, ‘Oh, OK.’ He’s just a trier. I’m very fortunate to ride him.”
Holzer, who previously rode for Canada, said she would love to be one of the top eight U.S. rides to go to Europe this summer and get the gelding some more exposure—riding with the American flag on her saddle pad would just be a bonus.
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We’re on site at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival all week bringing you news, photos and stories. Check back at coth.com and look for more in the Feb. 24 print edition of the Chronicle.