Steffen Peters, Top American Rider for Most of Past Two Decades, Inspired by World Games Silver Medal Team Mates
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
TRYON, North Carolina, Sept. 19, 2018–Steffen Peters admits he was inspired by the performance of his three team mates to win silver at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina where he was the drop score for the first time in his Olympic and international championship career as the top American rider for most of the past two decades.
Although Steffen is at a stage in his life where he calls himself the “old guy” at the age of 54, he’s excited about the goal to ride Suppenkasper, his WEG mount, at the Olympics in Tokyo in two years time when he thinks the KWPN gelding that would be 12 years old could be at his peak.
The performances of his all-female team mates at the 2012 Olympics to win team bronze and then silver at the Tryon WEG this month have inspired Steffen to pursue another Olympics 24 years after his first Games for the United States, longer even than Robert Dover whose six Games spanned two decades.
Steffen, German-born but who has embraced the California lifestyle based in San Diego, clearly thrives in the cameraderie and talent of this year’s WEG team mates of Laura Graves on Verdades, Adrienne Lyle on Salvino and Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet.
He came to the team with a record of four Olympics–1996 team bronze with Udon, 2008 third in final ranking on Ravel, 2012 on Ravel and 2016 team bronze with Legolas. At the World Games in 2006 he rode Floriano for the U.S. for team bronze, on Ravel in Lexington in 2010 individual and freestyle bronze medals, and rode Legolas in Normandy in 2014. In 2009 on Ravel he became only the second American to become World Cup champion. He’s been Pan American Games gold medalist in the two continental championships in which he has competed. And he’s been the United States Grand Prix champion a record seven times.
This WEG, the effects of the flight from California to Tryon led him to switch from Rosamunde to Suppenkasper, the horse that was bought by Four Winds Farm of Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang in late 2017 as a prospect for Steffen for Tokyo. Four Winds also owns Ravel, Legolas and Rosamunde.
Steffen told dressage-news.com that during the European circuit this summer to select the American team for WEG, “I watched those girls ride every day and compete. It’s very inspiring.
“I’ve seen a lot of wonderful horses and a lot of wonderful riders but it is so exciting what American dressage does. It’s been honestly inspiring to watch my team mates and it’s a huge honor to be on this team.
“Let’s face it, if your drop score is 73.494 per cent you know you have a hell of a team. Not too long ago this would have been our leading score in America. It’s absolutely fantastic. It felt great to participate in the World Games with this team–an old guy riding a young horse. I’m thrilled. It’s been many times where I had a supporting team score. This time the girls brought home the silver medal.”
To put the score into perspective, Steffen and Floriano were the top scoring U.S. bronze medal team combination at the 2006 WEG with 72.708 per cent.
Steffen said he came into WEG thinking after the training camp that Suppenkasper or “Mopsi,” the barn name inherited from Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg who developed the horse, “can go all the way already.” But he said he overrrode in the Grand Prix so toned it down for the Special.
“He’s a young horse,” he said. “He needs to have a positive experience and that’s exactly what we did. For him to pull a 73 without standing still in the beginning and, still very conervative riding… it’s great for him to get this score.
“You can’t help feeling a horse like Mopsi can peak when he’s 12, 13 or maybe 14. That is the major goal. I’m thrilled he could handle the environment.”
He described transition of working with Robert Dover as team coach and Debbie McDonald as his successor after the WEG as “seamless.”
“I’ve been working with both and I can’t say enough about our coaching staff,” he said. “It’s absolutely fabulous.”