Lars Petersen & Mariett Ready for Rotterdam

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Lars Petersen and Mariett. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Lars Petersen and Mariett. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Lars Petersen had not competed in the Danish Championships for more than a decade but improved at each of the three levels this year and admits that he might have done better had he left his Florida base earlier to perform in a warmup event.

However, his performances on Mariett in the national championships despite lack of recent experience in Europe attracted a lot of attention for success in a lineup showing off some of the continent’s best combinations that could see the Danish team on the medals podium at the European Championships in their homeland at the end of August.

Denmark’s dressage is deep–from the 23-year-old Anna Kasprzak and her Olympic mount, Donnperignon who dominated the championships; Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein with the experienced and talented Digby that puts them among the best in the world, and a bench of amazing partnerships including the newest, the 2006 World Equestrian Games superstar rider Andreas Helgstrand and Akeem Foldegard that he’s been riding for less than two months.

In a format to mirror championships requiring all three Grand Prix classes, Lars and Mariett placed fifth in the Freestyle, sixth in the Special and seventh in the Grand Prix.

“I have missed the European circuit,” Lars told dressage-news.com after the championships and his first dive into the competition pool in which he was a top rider at the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and World Cup that placed him at No, 2 in the world. More than a decade had passed since Lars moved to the United States for the second time to build a successful training and sales operation in Palm Beach, the center of international winter horse sports.

“I felt pretty good being back but also strange to be back after 11 years.

“Yes, I missed the European circuit and I wish I came a few weeks earlier to have had a warmup show or two.”

Even so, Lars and Mariett, a Danish Warmblood mare (Come Back II x Sidney) competing for the first time outside the United States, has been named to the Danish team for the Nations Cup at Rotterdam in two weeks. The results from the Netherlands and the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany the followng week will decide the team for the Europeans.

“I’m definitely looking forward to riding at Rotterdam,” said the 48-year-old rider, “since now I had my warmup show.”

Lars and Mariett have been an amazing partnership, more by accident to the horse than design as the horse is owned by Marcia Pepper who bought the mare from Lars to ride for herself as an adult amateur.

The mare tore off an entire hoof in a freak accident in her stall. After three years of recuperation, Marcia put asider her own dreams and sat on the sidelines to watch Lars and Mariett compete.

The recovery was more than remarkable in that the horse returned to the show ring and by the end of winter this year at the Wellington, Florida CDI5* Lars and Mariett beat the top ranked American combination of Steffen Peters and Legolas in the Grand Prix Freestyle.

The air travel from Florida to Europe did not have nuch effect on the horses.

“From the long trip and the time not showing I felt I had her almost as good as she was in Florida,” Lars said.

“In the Grand Prix I totally overrode her and it was all my fault and my mistakes.”

Lars is working with Danish team coach Rudolf Zeillinger ahead of Rotterdam.

There, he will be on a team with Lisbet Seierskilde and Jonstrupgaardens Raneur; Maria Anita Andersen and Blue Hors Loxana and Mikala Munter Gundersen, another rider based in Florida, on My Lady.

A second team of 2012 Olympic combinations Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein on Digby and Anna Kasprzak on Donnperignon along with Andreas Helgstrand on Akeem Foldager and Lone Bang Larsen on Fitou L will compete at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany a week after Rotterdam.

Rudolf and the Danish selectors will then choose the team for the Europeans, a highlight event for Denmark in that the championships will be held at Herning in their homeland.