Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 6
Each morning when he wakes up, Steffen Peters turns on his phone and is greeted with a photo of him hoisting the FEI World Cup Final trophy in 2009 on Ravel.
If he has time, he’ll listen to inspirational people like Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey or Morgan Freeman speaking about their struggles and triumphs.
This morning routine serves to motivate him, keeping his eye on the prize.
“[There are] so many people that motivate me. I go through that routine every single morning, and most of the time that World Cup trophy is up there. It’s not just in my mind, it’s in here,” he said, pointing to his body.
Another World Cup win would be a dream for Peters, 55. It was last year when he opened up about his struggle with depression and anxiety, admitting he almost gave up competing due to it.
But this year he’s come out with a different outlook, and he’s well on his way to the World Cup with qualification just about complete. He topped the CDI3* Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special two weeks in a row at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, and this afternoon he won the CDI-W Grand Prix (76.86 percent) with Four Winds Farm’s Suppenkasper, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Spielberg—Upanoeska, IPC Krack C).
“If [the freestyle tomorrow] goes great, that’s the ticket to Vegas. I have two qualifiers,” he said. “Some people say you can’t talk that way because you’ll jinx it, but I’ve learned to dream more and visualize more, and why shouldn’t I?”
Peters brought “Mopsie” east from their California base to experience the atmosphere at the AGDF facility, and today was tough for some horses with high winds.
“Every show it’s been getting a little bit better. I was especially excited because in the walk I heard the tents flapping, but Mopsie didn’t care,” he said. “That’s a huge step ahead, because that really set him off the first week we were here. I’ve been exposing him—walking him in the morning, working him a little bit in the afternoon, another 20 minutes before [the test.] That was the plan. The Wellington arena was the plan to give him the exposure for the future.”
Peters received a 79 percent from one judge, which was encouraging, and their final score of 76.86 percent was their personal best for the Grand Prix.
“He’s had a few 79s before, and both Debbie [McDonald, team coach], and I feel like there might be an 80 in there,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt to dream about it and visualize that knowing what an 80 percent feels like. We’ve seen it from so many riders in here. The dream is there.
“When a horse is this rideable and so soft in the contact and so perfect in the frame—he goes forward at any time, he goes back, he goes sideways. He’s so extremely rideable,” he added. “That feeling, you can’t give that less than a 10. I wish the judges could experience that because it’s incredible. He gives this effortless picture, and I still believe the harmony goes way, way over the expression. The expression is in there, but I would never, ever sacrifice the harmony for the expression.”
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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.