USA Team for Pan American Games

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Steffen Peters and Weltino's Magic in record-setting US Intermediaire Championship performance. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

GLADSTONE, New Jersey, Sept. 11-The United States team of four for the Pan American Games in Mexico next month was determined Sunday at the final of the National Intemediaire Championship. The team includes two Californians and two from the East Coast.

The team comprises:

Steffen Peters, 46, of San Diego, California, on Weltino’s Magic, 6, Westfalen, (Weltino x Viva);

Heather Blitz, 42, of Wellington, Florida, on Paragon, , 8, Danish Warmblood (Don Schufro x Pari Lord) ;

Cesar Parra, 48, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, on Grandioso, 10, Westfalen (Grosso Z x Hauptstutbuch Popocatepal), and

Marisa Festerling, 34, of Moorpark, California, on Big Tyme, 10, Belgian Warmblood (Saros x Elvira).

Reserves are: Endel Ots of Wellington and Toscano and Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Carolina, on Rigo.

Dressage competition at the Pan Ams at Guadalajara, Mexico, begins, Oct. 16 and runs through Oct. 19.

Dressage-news.com will be in Guadalajara to report on the equestrian events at the Pan American Games.

The U.S. has won the last three team championships at the Pan Ams, held once every four years at small tour although they are the official qualification for teams for the Olympics. Teams for future Olympics will be at big tour.

US Pan American Games team of Steffen Peters, Marisa Festerling, Heather Blitz and Cesar Parra. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The Pan American Games will be the first team experience for Heather Blitz and Marisa Festerling, and it will also be Steffen Peters’ first Pan Am team although he is an Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalist. Cesar Parra, who became an American citizen last year, competed in three Pan Ams for his native Colombia.

The team riders joked with each other at the news conference announcing their selection, but were jubilant.

Marisa, whose three-year-old daughter Ella sat on her knee, said she had owned Big Tyme since the horse was four years old.

“I’m so happy,” she said, “It’s the culmination of all your efforts, everything you’ve been working for for a long time.”

Marisa Festerling and daughter, Ella. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Steffen said that every one of the four horses on the team have a chance to win an individual medal.

“Put together this together and it is one hell of a team,” he said. That’s what I’m excited about. My priority is the team; 90 per cent of this adventure is the team effort.”

Cesar said that when he became an American citizen in 2010 he put more pressure on himself to perform well to try to make a U.S. team.

“It’s a dream… it’s fantastic,” he said.

Heather said, “I’m super excited to go, to go down with the intention of winning gold–only gold. We have an extremely positive attiude, but not over confident. It can be a great morale booster for he country and for dressage and be a good morale standard to set us up for London.”

Heather Blitz is ready to show the U.S. flag at the Pan American Games with her Stars & Stripes buttons on her tail coat. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Anne Gribbons, the U.S. Technical Adviser, essentially team leader, described the squad as a “dream team.

“It couldn’t be better. We have never been better off looking at a big competition as we are now.