After 4th World Games Lars Petersen to Become American Citizen But Continue to Ride For Denmark for Now

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Lars Petersen on Mariett at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Lars Petersen on Mariett at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Oct. 17, 2014–With his fourth World Equestrian Games behind him to go with the Olympic, World Cup and European Championship record for Denmark, Lars Petersen will become an American citizen at the end of the year but will hold off switching to ride for the United Stares while still competing Mariett at international events.

The World Cup Final in Las Vegas in April is the likely next goal for Lars and Mariett, when the Danish Warmblood mare will be 17 years old though feeling younger due to what Lars believes is a competition career extended by the year she was out with an injury from a freak accident.

Lars, 49 years old, has been in the United States longer than the 10 years he rode for Blue Hors stud.

With Melissa Taylor, his long time personal and business partner who married last Christmas, he has built a thriving training center and a schedule of coaching clinics that keeps him on airplanes hopscotching throughout North America and to Europe.

“I’ve been here for 13 years,” he said. “I’m married to an American. I have no plans to go anywhere else. I really like it. I feel I should ride for America.”

That feeling sharpens at the U.S. championships where most years he is coaching riders, but as with most national championships riding is restricted to citizens of the country.

Lars first moved to the United States in the 1980s for three years, before enticed back to Denmark to become trainer at Blue Hors.

A succession of horses–Utopia, Uffe Korshojgaard and Cavan–took him to the 1996 Olympics, the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Equestrian Games and the World Cup Finals in 2001 and 2002 and as high as No. 2 in the world rankings as well as the 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2001 European Championships.

Then he came back to America to stay.

Lars Petersen on Mariett celebrating victory in Florida.  Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Lars Petersen on Mariett celebrating victory in Florida. Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

His focus initially was on building his training business in Palm Beach–as many as 50 horses are at Legacy Farms over the sub-tropical Florida winter. His competition calendar restricted mostly to the U.S. East Coast.

Until Mariett, a horse that he’d matched with Marcia Pepper, a student and an amateur. She competed the mare to Prix St. Georges by 2009.

Then, one of the horse’s hooves was torn off in a freak accident and the fear was that Mariett would not return to the competition arena. After lengthy rehabilitation, Marcia wanted Lars to keep riding Mariett and by the winter of 2012 was at Grand Prix in the CDI arena.

Improving results led to the pair going to Europe, to compete in the Danish championships and on the team for the Nations Cup in Rotterdam in 2013.

This year, Lars and Mariett won the World Cup North American League, was the top money winning combination with almost $48,000 (€37,500) at the three-month long Global Dressage Festival in Wellington and were invited to the Final of the annual individual championship. An abscess during travel forced witdrawal from the Final in Lyon, France.

But they stayed in Europe, placing second in the Danish championships, competing at the some top shows and were selected for Denmark’s team for the World Games. The months of preparing and competing was gruelling–expensive in costs of living and traveling away from home base as well as lost business during the lengthy absence.

The results weren’t what Denmark hoped for, the team placing seventh.

Lars said that since returning home, Mariett is feeling good and he’s looking at aiming for the World Cup Final in Las Vegas that by then will be “home turf” as he should have American citizenship.

Whether he seeks a place on the Dansh team for the Europeans at Aachen, Germany next August depends on how Mariett is performing and what other combinations are available for Denmark.

Although he can seek approval of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to make the change to ride in CDIs for the U.S. instead of Denmark in about a month, the waiting period for FEI championships as he is married to an American is one year since their last championship–the World Games at the end of August.

“As long as Mariett is going, I will keep riding her for Denmark,” he said. “That’s the most fair to Marcia and Mariett.”

Athough he maintains a close relationship with Blue Hors–something of an “elder statesman” role in that he has coached some of the Denmark-based riders–he does not have any of the stud’s horses to train and compete.

He’ll be at Blue Hors next week to participate as a trainer at the Global Dressage Forum being held outside the Netherlands for the first time.

Lars has four young horses he’s developing for competition including a seven-year-old gelding, Winagain, from Leatherdale Farms. near Minneapolis, Minnesota that help create the “perfect balance” he has established of teaching humans and training horses.