Steffen Peters’ Focus on Championships, USA Prospects for 2014 World Games – Part 2
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Dec. 27, 2013
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Steffen Peters is so dedicated on doing whatever it takes to help America at the World Equestrian Games next summer that he will compete with Legolas in the selection trials to be a part of the team even if he is excused as the United States top combination.
The focused approach by Steffen to his competition career comes at the start of a new year when he has wound down a schedule of clincs that has been intense in the past decades to do “everything I possibly can to do my job better as a team rider.”
Steffen on the KWPN gelding Ravel, now retired, was the top placed American at the past two Olympics and captured two individual medals at the WEG in Kentucky in 2010 and the 2009 World Cup title, but no U.S. team mates to share the podiums.
To be on the medals podium at Normandy, he believes “will take two horses getting over 75 per cent. We have plenty of horses who can get between 70 and 72 per cent, which is the job of the third horse.”
Steffen is doing everything he can to be prepared for the WEG and then the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with Legolas, the Westfalen gelding that will be 12 years old next year and Rosamunde, coming seven that was bought as the intended successor to Legolas who in turn was acquired as the successor to Ravel, all by Akiko Yamazaki.
In the two years since Legolas (Laomedon x Furstin) arrived from Germany at Steffen’s Arroyo Del Mar in San Diego, California, the pair has competed across the United States and Europe with scores consistently in the range of 74/76 per cent and was the 2013 U.S. Grand Prix Champion.
Legolas, he said, is now “stepping into the place where Ravel was–he’s the champ at the moment and Rosie is the new kid on the block.”
Along with Kathleen Raine and Christine Traurig, he stages mini training camps of two weeks once every two months with Jo Hinnemann, a top German trainer and longtime coach for all three. Under the watchful eye of Jo, they train, give feedback and watch videos of their rides. “The situation with Jo is because I’ve been working with him since 1982. That’s a really long time,” he said. “I’m very grateul he makes the time availabe. This is a collaboration.”
“Sometimes I think that a 75 or 76 per cent might be the limit for Legolas,” but working with Jo “there were days when we looked at the video and said, ’77/78 per cent might be possible.’
“I’m always very careful with predictions and I’m not saying we will get that in the future. There were days when we did a test and it looked more than 75 per cent. That was exciting and that has to be our goal for the World Games and improve our standard even more.”
After two months since he began riding Rosie, the Rhinelander mare (Rock Forever x Fidemark) that is officially called Rosamunde but he prefers not to use the name because “it reminds me of a heavy-set German lady and she certainly is not that, “I’m over the moon excited about her.
“The word ‘no’ has not existed for her. She has never once said she doesn’t understand or won’t do what I ask. She’s a very generous horse, a real classy lady.
“She’s very sensitive to the leg. very supple, very elastic. She has Ravel’s canter and Ravel’s piaffe. She has a better collected walk than Ravel, more extended walk and more trot extension. Her temparment is absolutely outstanding.”
He makes no predictions–“at the end of the day, we still have to prove ourslves with good scores in the show arena.”
The short term view is that the pair will ride a national Prix St. Georges in early February and then decide whether she is ready for small tour CDI.” The Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015 in which nations will be able to start teams made up of both Grand Prix and Priz St. Georges horses is a possibility.
For the WEG, he thinks it will take two combinations getting scores of 75 per cent for a team to be a medal contender. A medal is a high priority for the United States that hasn’t won one for the team since the 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany. Steffen and Ravel collected two individual bronzes in Kentucky in 2010.
“I find that the Olympics and the WEG always bring out more in riders and horses when the goal is more important,” he said. “We’ve been there so many times when the team selection didn’t look that great in December or January. Remember 2010 in Kentucky when everybody was so negative but we put together a helluva team (placing fourth and securing a team place for the Olympics in London two years later). I believe we can put together a nice team.”
He admits to having a hard time making predictions but he named possibilities such as Jan Ebeling and Rassolini that was a small tour champion in Germany in 2010; Kathleen Raine and Breanne that she competed in Europe this summer and “looked absolutely fabulous” in Jo Hinnemann training sessions; Günter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea that also was successful in Europe; Adrienne Lyle and Wizard who are in Florida for this winter’s Global Dressage Festival after recovering from an injury, and Caroline Roffman who has started Her Highness O at national Grand Prix.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “everyone has to put it together in the show arena, that’s what matters. We take it show by show. It’s four numerals, a decimal point and a percentage sign that count.”
He hasn’t been asked but if he was most likely would not accept the role of assistant coach that he filled to Anne Gribbons, team coach for the U.S. for the 2012 Olympics.
“I enjoyed working with Anne,” he said. “I was not quite sure sure whether the position was always well received from a political standpoint. I have never been one of those people who likes the limelight, being the center of attention. I love to work with horses and stay in the background.”
He does have another “big passion” other than horses.
“I built remote control gliders as a kid with my dad,” he said, “it’s a long time hobby–building them with pretty sophisticated electronics and programming to control them.
“I’m very, very fascinated. A good friend is teaching me. It’s a fascinating hobby, a wonderful balance. It takes a ton of focus and I still have enough brain cells to be stimulated.”
Now he’s wound down his out-of-town coaching clinics, he has more time to construct the 20-foot (6m) airplanes at a workshop he has built at the barn and flies them at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve on the Pacific coast near his farm. See video here.