Dawn White-O’Connor Beats Her Boss, Steffen Peters, Now He’s Helping Her Get to US Championships

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Dawn White-O'Connor and Aristo. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Dawn White-O’Connor and Aristo. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

May 2, 2014

Dawn White O’Connor rode Aristo to victory over her boss, Steffen Peters, in the Del Mar National CDI Intermediate Freestyle and now he’s helping her raise money so she can go to the Tim Dutta United States Championships on the other side of the country to try to beat him again for the national title.

Dawn is organizing a silent auction to raise funds for the round trip airfare of $10, 200 for Aristo. Steffen has donated private training Monday through Friday and full board at Arroyo Del Mar in San Diego, California to go to the highest bidder as well as some Olympic memorabilia, such as clothing.

“The entire team Peters is very excited and  determined to get Dawn and Aristo down the centerline in Gladstone,” he said.

Competing Aristo has been for the humble 24-year-old Dawn something she never expected. As an assistant trainer with Steffen, she got the ride on the nine-year-old KWPN gelding (Olivi x Krack C) at the last-minute six weeks ago when his limit of two mount in a CDI left Aristo, owned by Carla Anne Hayes, out of the lineup.

In that CDI Dawn and Aristo placed sixth in the Prix St. Georges and second at Intermediate I. The pair followed up with similar placings at a CDI the following week.

She gave the credit to Steffen’s training and the up-close experience of working at Arroyo Del Mar since she moved there from Colorado, the home state of Shannon Peters, Steffen’s wife, six years ago. She had groomed Ravel when Steffen rode the horse, owned by Akiko Yamazaki, at some of his biggest moments on both sides of the Atlantic.

Then, at the Del Mar National CDI3* it came together for Dawn and Aristo, placing third in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I and taking the blue ribbon in the Intermediate Freestyle with a score of 72.667 per cent, 0.584 per cent ahead of Steffen and Apassionata.

The results moved her to ninth place on the Tim Dutta Intermediate Championships, enough to put her in position to earn an invitation to the Festival of Champions in Gladstone an hour outside New York in mid-June. Steffen is at the top of the rankings with Rosamunde and in seventh place on Apassionata.