Trans-Atlantic Coach Lars Petersen Making Impact on Denmark’s Top Dressage Though Now Riding For USA
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Dec. 26, 2018
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Daniel Bachmann Andersen will enter 2019 as Denmark’s highest ranked rider on Blue Hors Zack after a year placing three horses in the top 30 in the world and capturing Germany’s prestigious Louisdor Prize for developing Grand Prix horses.
The 28-year-old Daniel is relishing the most successful year of his career so far, four years since he began working with former Danish Olympian and championship rider Lars Petersen who started coaching at Blue Hors stud in Randbøl, Denmark in 2011. The initial occasional assignments have grown into monthly on-the-spot training sessions and online coaching.
Lars left Blue Hors to move permanently to the United States, became an American citizen almost two years ago and opted to ride under the U.S. flag although he retains Danish citizenship.
At the age of 53 and giving regular clinics across the U.S. as well as training several horses and riders at Legacy Farm that he operates with his wife and business partner, Melissa Taylor, in Loxahatchee, neighboring Wellington in South Florida, Lars crosses the Atlantic monthly to coach for Blue Hors.
In addition to Daniel, who fills the same role Lars did two decades ago, he works with Nanna Skodborg Merrald, a highly accomplished rider in European youth championships before joining Blue Hors full-time in 2018 after earning a university bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. This year, he also took over coaching Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, a member of the Blue Hors-owning family who was on Denmark’s team at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 European Championships and is becoming more involved with the stud.
The stud recently implemented a program to provide a junior rider with a Blue Hors mount that Lars also helps.
Daniel started working with Lars four years ago. At the age of 10, he had started with Danish multi-Olympian Morten Thomsen then rode for six years for Rudolf Zeillinger, the former Danish team coach and whom he credit with a “fantastic” education who “really taught me how to ride,.”
“Lars has made me a better horseman and taught me a lot about the most important values in the making of a Grand Prix horse,” he said.
“First of all it’s not the hard part to make a Grand Prix horse, it’s to make it last and that requires horsemanship, which I believe Lars is an expert in and that’s making him a fantastic trainer.”
Lars first came to the United States almost three decades ago, but after a couple of years returned home to train and compete horses for Blue Hors.
Uffe Korshojgaard was his first star mount, at the 1995 European Championships then the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He will always be linked, though, to Blue Hors Cavan whose top international sport career was book ended by the 1998 and 2002 World Equestrian Games. In between were two World Cup Finals including in 2002 where the pair was reserve to Germany’s Ulla Salzgeber on Rusty, as well as on the Danish bronze medals teams at both the 1999 and 2001 European Championships.
Shortly after the 2002 WEG, he turned Cavan over to Andreas Helgstrand as his successor at Blue Hors and came back to America where he had fallen in love with the lifestyle and built a training business. And he won a lot of admiration for restoring the Danish Warmblood mare Mariett to top sport after what was diagnosed as a career-ending injury, competing for Denmark at the 2014 World Games and at the 2015 World Cup Final.
He has dual Danish and American citizenship, but feels no conflicts as he’s not riding a Blue Hors horse.
“When you’re born Danish you’re always Danish,” he said, “but I feel more American in many ways. I love to go over there, I love to go help them at Blue Hors.
“I never thought when I first went to work for Blue Hors it would turn out the way it has. I owe them my career. They’re a great family, great place, great horses. I hate the flying but I enjoy the rest.”
Technology helps Lars maintain a complete training schedule, using real-time video between his monthly visits of about four days that is often to both Blue Hors and to competitions, World Cup qualifiers for now and events such as Frankfurt, Germany in mid-December. There, Daniel was the star–in addition to riding Blue Hors Veneziano to become only the second non-German to win the Louisdor Prize in 12 years of competition, he won the CDI4* Grand Prix on Blue Hors Zepter. He had success in the fall on Blue Hors Don Olymbrio and his World Games team mount Blue Hors Zack.
“It’s good when I do the shows with Blue Hors. It makes me sharper. You can be over here and fall a little bit asleep. I can’t sit there at Blue Hors and say, ‘good’ when it’s not good. They are really good riders. You have to be sharp. They have really good horses, many young ones so you can’t make mistakes.”
He is enthusiastic about helping Melissa make an American team with Dixie WRF, a 10-year-old KWPN mare, that is in the developing Grand Prix program.”I think that could be fun,” he said. “She has never done it.”
But he also is developing Grand Prix horses and, he confesses, “if I have one that’s good enough then, yeah, it could be fun to try for the U.S. team. I’m not making myself crazy about it.”
Although he’s fully committed to Blue Hors, he also wants to give back to American dressage.
He worked with dressage-news.com on the creation of a small tour lineup of competitions that organizers of the Global circuit have implemented as a new national series along the lines of Germany’s world famous Nürnberger Burg-Pokal.
Between Blue Hors and his own operation, he gives clinics in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina and Virginia. With Blue Hors, it means he’s away for some part of every week outside the three months of the Florida winter circuit.
“I teach a lot but I admit I enjoy it,” he said. “I never thought my life would become this way. But it has since we decided to stay in Florida year round.
“I wouldn’t change a thing. I really enjoy getting out of bed in the morning and go work with the horses. I feel fortunate that someone wants to listen to the old bald guy.”