Steffen Peters rode Legolas to a score of 80.35 percent in the freestyle of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final, which should have put him into fourth in the final standings, but he does not appear in the final results.
Peters was eliminated from the competition by the ground jury for blood on Legolas’ side.
“It is clearly my fault,” Peters said. “At the end of the day, I rode the horse, and I am responsible for the welfare of this horse. I am very embarrassed about it. I’m the one who feels guilty.”
Peters acknowledged that the head of the ground jury, Lilo Fore, had no alternative but to eliminate him. “I’m truly sorry about my elimination from the 2015 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. There was absolutely no doubt that all FEI Stewards, Dr. Mike Tomlinson and the president of the ground jury, Lilo Fore, made the correct decision,” he posted on his Facebook page. “Legolas is a sensitive horse. Because of this I ride with a dull rounded end spur without rowels. I cannot explain when it happened, and I feel terrible for Legolas. I feel guilty and extremely embarrassed, and apologize to [owners] Akiko and Jerry [Yamazaki], our Federation, and our friends and supporters. But I’m still very proud of Legolas, who did a wonderful job in the Grand Prix and in the freestyle.”
“The horse was absolutely 100 percent fine when he went to the arena,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover. “Sadly he did have a tiny bit of red on one side [when he came out], and the rules are the rules. Steffen is a great sportsman, understands that completely, and was his usual amazing self when he totally went with the ruling.
“Certainly he loves his horses like all of us, and the last thing that he would ever ever want is to in any way harm any animal, so certainly it’s just one of those things that sometimes happens,” Dover continued.
Dover said Peters wasn’t using new equipment. “I think that in the very beginning of his test when the words [came in his music], and it said, ‘Hi, I’m Legolas,’ and everyone started to clap, the horse began to stop some. It may have just been in that moment where he touched him once to keep him going. That’s sometimes all it takes. It’s life with horses and peoples’ careers—people face those kinds of things usually once in a long, long career, but yeah, the rules are the rules.”