Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper topped the feature CDI3* Grand Prix (77.41%) and Grand Prix freestyle (76.41%) at the first Adequan Desert Dressage I CDI, which took place Nov. 13-15 in Thermal, California.
“ ‘Mopsie’ and I have been together for almost four years now,” said Peters. “It was a bit of a rough start; we started out in the lower 70 percent and slowly worked our season up a bit more every year, especially last year in Florida. He looked very promising.”
Peters and Mopsie were in strong contention for the U.S. team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games before they were postponed due to the coronavirus. “I felt like Mopsie and I needed at least another year to polish things off and mature,” said Peters. “Not just Mopsie, but myself too. I can’t help but think he will be even better next year.”
Peters performed an immaculate Grand Prix test and laid down a bold performance, showcasing the gelding’s energy and power during each movement.
“Mopsie is a very energetic horse and always wants to go, sometimes wants to go too much,” said Peters. “That shows in the extended trot and extended canter. It also shows in the piaffe and passage; he tries sometimes so hard. What used to happen, he would get so excited in the passage that he would, once in a while, be uneven behind. One hind leg would do a passage for a 9 score and the other for a 6 score. Unfortunately, that doesn’t average out for a 7 score. The piaffe is still a little difficult when he tries too hard. He would sway sometimes in front, and I practiced that quite a bit in a two-point at the end of our warm-up to just make sure that he understands the piaffe is a part of relaxation. He is finally understanding that to the point where I can ask him for more in the piaffe. Before it was always saying a little prayer and being super careful, not touching him, kind of hoping that things would work out in the piaffe. Now I can ride it and be a bit more in charge of it.”
Despite competing in a national competition two months ago, this is the pair’s first major competition back since the break due to the coronavirus. This is also their first time competing at the Desert International Horse Park together.
“We arrived two days ago, and I drove around with my mouth open. The last time we were here was about seven or eight years ago, and I just couldn’t believe how much was improved and the resources that were put into this place. It is absolutely beautiful,” Peters said. “That arena, truly, I am not exaggerating, has Olympic quality. When you come in with the big gate and the spectators where they are, that has Olympic quality. I cannot wait and hope that maybe one day something really big will happen here.”
Peters will take Mopsie to Florida for the winter to compete in more Olympic qualifiers as well as a Nations Cup in his quest to make the 2021 team.
“I appreciate every single day the fact that our horses just do it. For us to get on and do our routine. Some days they might be a little muscle sore but having a horse that simply just goes in and does the job every single time,” said Peters. “I still appreciate every single time I have a horse on a loose rein, and they are stretching and turning exactly the way I want. I never forget how incredible that is.”
Peters builds quality relationships with all his horses to determine the best individual training schedules.
“You don’t do all the movements of the Grand Prix every day, but if you do a movement, you perform it as if you are at the Olympic Games. You do it 100 percent or you don’t do a movement,” Peters said. “You work a lot on this whole idea on what the Grand Prix is based on because you need so much energy but, on the flip side, this extreme relaxation in the collected walk, extended walk and that relaxation before the piaffe. Then they need to be super fired up for the piaffe and passage. Constantly at home working on getting them confidently energetic but more important, relaxed. That is what it is all about. Getting that energy when you really need it but having that pure relaxation that is even more important.”
In the Grand Prix and Grand Prix freestyle CDI-W, Charlotte Jorst and Kastel’s Nintendo came out on top, scoring a 71.87 percent and 75.71 percent, respectively.
The duo has been competing together for seven years. In the freestyle, the pair debuted new music and choreography for their routine. The freestyle possessed the energy and cohesiveness Jorst hoped for, and it clearly played well with the judges.
“It felt incredible. It was really nice music. I had only fully practiced it once before so I won’t lie, I was very nervous,” explained Jorst. “Especially for the entrance because I was trying to time it perfectly. It really worked out though. I got behind the music once in a while, but in general it felt incredible.
“It is very difficult,” said Jorst of creating the perfect freestyle. “What I have found is that your favorite music isn’t necessarily the best music for the horse. That has taken me far too long to realize. I should have realized that five years ago, but I didn’t. I have come up with so many weird freestyles, and this one just panned out right away. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. I guess everyone has to go through those trials and errors. I just had more errors than others I think.”
The pair will continue competing next week at the Adequan Desert Dressage II CDI-W. Jorst aspires to return to the FEI World Cup Finals in Sweden in the coming year.
Click here for full results.