Steffen Peters knows how to bring a crowd to their feet—even virtually. Sure, at 56 he is the oldest U.S Olympic medalist in almost 70 years, but the man recognizes the ageless pull of tunes with an irresistible dance beat, like “Destination Calabria” and “What Is Love?”
“I used to DJ for some parties,” Peters revealed. “These two songs always got people on the dance floor.”
So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that when TikTok user @togethxr caught his freestyle on TV and exclaimed, “Alex, come look at this rave horse!” Peters and his Tokyo Olympic partner Suppenkasper became a viral sensations, notching 9 million-plus views. It is the Peters and “Mopsie” way.
Though TikTok later removed the video, NBC Olympics posted its own video from Peters’ test on social media.
@nbcolympics“OMG THEY’RE PLAYING MY SONG.” – the horse at the club #tokyoolympics #horse #dressage #rave #club #music #edm #horses
“I was laughing,” Peters said of learning about his interweb fame. “First of all, I felt a lot of pride for Mopsie. Not so much for me, but Mopsie really got into the limelight. I think it’s a great platform to pursue this even more and make more TikTok videos of dressage. We can make dressage even more popular.”
As the original TikTok racked up views and likes (around 1.8 million and counting), others got in on the action: The U.S. Equestrian Federation posted a clip of Peters and Mopsie watching their moment of TikTok fame together, and Peters’ freestyle music producer, Taylor Kade, posted a behind-the-laptop look at the making of the piece (and, later, a follow-up message to his mom about how all the media attention generated by the freestyle validated his career switch from real estate to music production).
And over on NBC’s Peacock streaming service, Isabell Werth and Bella Rose 2’s freestyle caught the attention of comedian Kevin Hart and musician/pop culture icon Snoop Dogg, who were sharing their take—in predictably colorful language—on Olympic highlights from some of the lower-profile sports. Peters loved their commentary as well, especially on the half-pass.
“Then I saw Kevin Hart [and] Snoop Dogg doing a comment on Crip-walking,” he added. “I think that’s the new term for a half-pass now.”
This wasn’t the first time Peters, of San Diego, has used modern music in his freestyle. In fact, some of the music from his Olympic freestyle was recycled from his winning freestyle in the 2009 Las Vegas FEI World Cup Final with Ravel. This propensity, he said, is rooted in the crowd’s energy and response.
“To be honest, one of my biggest golds in my career is the World Cup in [Las Vegas in 2009]. I think I had the biggest reactions from an American dressage fan about upbeat music, dance music, club music. You know, it’s a party,” he said. “Yes, of course there’s some case for the bit more emotional, dramatic music. But I just happened to like this music a lot. I think music is one of the best tools if you happen to feel a little bit down in the morning. Who can sit still when you hear music like that?”
The trending “Rave Horse” nickname was just a feather in Peters’ cap, a little extra flair to complement the silver medals he and teammates Sabine Schut-Kery and Adrienne Lyle earned in Tokyo.
“That experience of watching Sabine and knowing that, halfway through the test, we had the bronze medal. And watching the last few seconds of her test and knowing that we got the silver medal. Honestly that silver medal is just as good as gold,” he said. “Adrienne and I were sitting in the stands, and I don’t think I ever jumped that high. Got so emotional about it. I was standing there with some of the volunteers watching Charlotte Dujardin, and I was crying like a little boy—happy tears. And they asked me, ‘Sir, are you OK?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I am certainly OK.’ This is one of the best moments of my life. I’m so grateful to be on that particular dream team.
“Especially at my age, too,” he added. “To experience something that incredible towards the end of my career is such an amazing gift. It’s received with so much gratitude and appreciation.”
Watch Peters’ full freestyle and the rest of the individual medal finalists’ freestyles on the NBC Olympics livestream.