Steffen Peters Transitions to New Phase in Life, to Focus on American Championship Teams – Part 1 of 2

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Ilse Schwarz on Sauvignon getting help from Steffen Peters in last of his scheduled clinics in Florida. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Ilse Schwarz on Sauvignon getting help from Steffen Peters in the last of his scheduled clinics in Florida. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Dec. 25, 2013

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Steffen Peters has wound down his extensive and highly popular clinic schedule to focus on American championship team competitions in a new phase of his life.

With two other Southern California-based team riders–Kathleen Raine and Christine Traurig–Steffen has embarked on an ambitious mini training camp at his Arroyo Del Mar farm in San Diego of two weeks once every two months with Jo Hinnemann, the German coach who is one of the top in the world and has been the trainer of all three for years. The first session was at the U.S. Championships in Kentucky in October and the plan is to keep them going through to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The change in the lifestyle of Steffen, who will be 50 years old in 2014 and moved to the United States from his native Germany three decades ago, has been made possible by the fruits of the American Dream–income from an intense year-round schedule of clinics and horse sales, and profitable investment in California real estate.

Steffen talked with dressage-news.com about his plans after the last of a regularly scheduled series of clinics in Wellington, Florida that began 10 years ago when Cetty Weiss first organized symposiums for young riders when her daughter was competing at that level. Cetty expanded the visits into regular clinics and the Wellington-based Australian Ilse Schwarz took over organizing and scheduling them six years ago.

He will continue with special events such as a joint session with U.S. Young Horse coach Scott Hassler at the annual FEI Trainers Conference in Florida organized by the U.S. Dressage Federation for January.

An impetus for the change was that on many Fridays he left the barn for a clinic thinking, “I wish I had one more day to sort out what didn’t go well.”

“I believe it is my job to do everything I can to make the team and then support it if I get on the team.” he said.

“I really want to think a bit selfishly here. Let’s just do everything we can to prepare for those championships even better.

“Let’s face it, I might not have that much more time in the internatonal arena. I have two unebelievable horses at the moment. I want to go to the next major competition, the World Games, with absolutely zero compromise in the training.”

After all, he believes, “to be on the medals podium you need two horses able to get over 75 per cent.”

The two “unbelievable” horses are Legolas, the Westfalen gelding who will be 12 years old in 2014 that he has competed across the United States and in Europe over the past two years, and Rosamunde, the Rhinelander mare coming seven years old he prefers to call Rosie that recently arrived at Steffen’s barn.

Both horses are owned by Akiko Yamazaki, Legolas as a successor to her KWPN gelding Ravel on whom Steffen competed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, won two individual medals at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and was the 2009 World Cup champion before being retired late last year. Rosie is the intended successor to Legolas.

“I love weekends at home,” he said. “I thought at one point that three weekends in a row at home I might get antsy to get on the road. If I get to work with another horse at home it’s a very comfortable situation. It just feels good to have that option.”

And, of course, he loves spending time with Shannon, his wife, a trainer, competition rider and who manages their barn.

Jo Hinnemann (center) talking with Steffen Peters on Legolas with U.S. Chef d'Equipe Robert Dover at the United States Championships. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Jo Hinnemann (center) talking with Steffen Peters on Legolas with U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover at the United States Championships. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

He also can be sure to be at home when Jo Hinnemann is there for the mini training camps that Steffen described as “extremely productive.”

“Jo has more time available, he’s willing to travel a bit more. We didn’t want to start in the summer before the WEG. We have been able to do this every two months. With that frequency, the two weeks are pretty intense, good training. Jo is very open to feedback. Although we call it intense, it’s extremely fair to the horses. It’s a good step toward the World Games and I’m sure we can continue this until the Olympic Games in 2016.”

He describes the relationship between Jo and U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover as a “wonderful collaboration.”

Robert Dover, who is based in Wellington but makes frequent trips to California, said:

“Those athletes who work with Jo made a plan with him to come several times to California as well as to Gladstone and possibly to Florida  if they come out for some of our shows.

“Jo has been extremely cooperative and done an excellent job of producing stronger results with each competition, understanding that the bar is very high and our combinations require scores between 75 per cent and 85 per cent to be impactful toward contending  for a medal. I am grateful to Jo as well as all of the super personal coaches who are working together with the athletes and myself to ensure the United States has the strongest team possible for 2014 and beyond.”

Part 2: Steffen Peters Focus on Championships, USA Prospects for 2014 World Games