Peters, Ravel new national champs

By September 11, 2011

2011 National Dressage Champs Steffen Peters and Ravel (Photo by Sue Stickle)

Steffen Peters went six-for-six at the 2011 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, N.J. Sept.8-11.. First, he swept the Intermediaire I on Weltino’s Magic, earning a place on the team for the Pan American Games with Jen Hlavacek’s 9-year-old Westphalian gelding.

Riding to music by Seven and Five, Peters showcased his team’s strengths and was rewarded with a freestyle score of 81.250% ─ the only score over 80 in the division all weekend.

“It is fairly new,” said Peters about his Freestyle. “I’ve only done three freestyles with Magic. The music is not too dramatic but it’s not too much like elevator music. It was fun, there are some days where it is a little more work with Magic, but today it was fun.”

Peters went on to dominate the Grand Prix National Dressage Championship on Ravel – scoring 77.660% in the Grand Prix, 80.083% in the Grand Prix Special and 81.100% in the Freestyle. The 79.247% average allowed Peters and Ravel to win by more than six percentage points the title Collecting Gaits Farm USEF/ National Dressage Champion, which the pair previously won in 2008.”That’s a first,” Peters said of scoring an 80% and a 79% on his two horses.

A 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Akiko Yamazaki and Four Winds Farm, Ravel was tired after putting in a tremendous effort in the Grand Prix Special on Friday, but rallied for the Sunday freestyle.

“Obviously (it was) a little tough on the finish line,” the San Diego-based Peters said. “There was the one piaffe that didn’t happen and that makes me not think about the other movements that were good. The changes and pirouettes were better than Aachen.”

Ravel always tries, but Peters said that based on how well-behaved the horse was during the ribbon ceremony that he is ready for a vacation. Ravel’s freestyle was performed to music from the film Avatar, re-recorded by the Slovakian orchestra specifically for Peters, who said. “I think we have the choreography down where everyone thinks it’s difficult enough,” Peters said.

This was Ravel’s first trip to Gladstone to compete, and for Peters, coming to Gladstone is something that he never takes for granted.

“It’s always special – this is where it all started,” Peters said of the venue, at the United States Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters. “My first championship here was in 1992, I won first here in 1995, I have special memories here and it is always a step above other venues.”

The 2010 National Champion,Tina Konyot, had to settle for second place this year, but she and her beloved 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood stallion Calecto V put in a commanding performance.Their freestyle set to K.T. Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” “My horse felt fabulous today.I was very happy. It is a constant improvement.”

She finished on a three-day percentage of 72.829% and her freestyle score of 77.6% was her third second-place score of the weekend.

She talked about the difficulty in some of the transitions: “It’s not so easy for him in the extended canter to hit the piaffe to have a smooth piaffe, it’s a combination of the collection that blends and molds into the piaffe.”

Shawna Harding rode Come On III to third in the Grand Prix on Thursday and sixth in the Grand Prix Special, but the duo rebounded in the Freestyle to finish with a three-day percentage of 68.542%. She credits her trip to Europe last summer with helping improve Come On III at the highest level, and extended a special thanks to Carol Lavell and the Dressage Foundation for making that possible.

At only 12, the Danish Warmblood gelding is maturing into a top horse for Harding. “He is really coming onto his game,” she said. “The piaffe was really good in the ring today. My big horse is scared to death and has a huge heart; I’m a proud of him.”

When it came time to hand out compliments, Peters was not shy about thanking his wife, Shannon, who started Weltino’s Magic. He said he was impressed with how much the horse has matured. He was the 2008 Reserve Champion in the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship with Shannon and she believed in him from the beginning.

“I have to give Shannon 75% of the credit,” Peters noted. “She started him and I didn’t really believe in him, but she was very patient. My very generous wife turned over the reins when he was going well.”

For a complete list of the 2011 Collecting Gate Farms Festival of Champions, click here

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  7. Freestyle win for Seidel and U II in Austria
  8. Hat Trick for U.S. Dressage at Pan Ams
  9. Shannon Peters Shines in ‘Show Ring’
  10. Dujardin Doubles in Olympic Dressage

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