Steffen Peters Performs 1st Grand Prix on Rosamunde for Near 80%, Within 1% of Legolas Score at California National Show

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Steffen Peters riding Rpsamunde in the horse's first Grand Prix, at Therma California. © 2015 Ken Braddick/
Steffen Peters riding Rosamunde in the horse’s first Grand Prix, at Thermal California. © 2015 Ken Braddick/


THERMAL, California, Jan. 9, 2015–Steffen Peters performed the first Grand Prix on Rosamunde, the mare that is not yet eight years old scored almost 80 per cent and just one percentage point below the proven American team horse Legolas in the national Dressage Getaway and a single judge.

The performance of Rosamunde Friday by America’s leading rider and reigning national champion on Legolas showed barely any mistakes and Axel Steiner, the retired FEI5* judge, said he was “very pleasantly surprised” by the display of “a very natural free moving horse” whose “natural gaits were wonderful.” Video is here:

To those who witnessed the ride, including this correspondent, the Rhinelander mare who actually turns eight in May though all horses in the Northern Hemisphere born the same year share the same Jan. 1 birthday, the result of 79.900 per cent could have been the same in any CDI arena. Axel Steiner does not have a reputation for being overly generous with his marks.

Nevertheless, the move to Grand Prix by Rosamunde that was bought by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang in September, 2013 as a successor to Ravel and Legolas that they own came as a surprise. The mare’s results of seven victories in eight starts on both sides of the Atlantic last year appeared good preparation for the United States team for the Pan American Games in Toronto that will be in a unique mix of Big and Small Tour combinations.

Steffen on Rosamunde being congratulated by Akiko Yamazaki with Dawn White-O'Connor, his assistant and Miki Yamazaki. © 2015 Ken Braddick/
Steffen on Rosamunde being congratulated by Akiko Yamazaki with Dawn White-O’Connor, his assistant and Miki Yamazaki. © 2015 Ken Braddick/

The ride on the 13-year-old Legolas, a Westfalen gelding, was near flawless for a score of 80.900 per cent in their first competition since the World Equestrian Games in Normandy last August. There were none of the previous issues in the tempi changes and Axel Steiner awarded a mark of 10 for piaffe that along with passage has been a strength of the horse.

The ride on Rosamunde, or “Rosie,” as Steffen calls the mare, was at the end of the class that started with Legolas and was followed by the exciting debut of FRH Rassolini, a 12-year-old Hanoverian stallion, ridden by Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California that were awarded a mark of 74.100 per cent.

Rosamunde was the center of attention of the show as the crowd that was sparse at the one-ring show in the midst of the preparations for the opening next week of the Thermal jumper/hunter show were being completed gathered around the arena.

Akiko had flown in from her Northern California home to the airport next to the show grounds for the Grand Prix that she agreed to at a meeting in California last November with Steffen and U.S. team coach Robert Dover.

To protect “Rosie,” Steffen had a condition–if he had to practice a single movement more than twice in preparation he felt it could be too much for the mare so he did not want to do the Grand Prix.

The pair rode through the Grand Prix at home and although the tryouts went well Steffen was not sure how it would go in competition.

Plans to show the horse last year in the big, packed cathedral of dressage with its electric atmosphere at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany had to be dropped when Steffen was hospitalized with pleurisy, a severe form of pneumonia.

At home in San Diego, California they had played with the Grand Prix movements that, Steffen confides, Rosie “understood very quickly. Because of that, the work load was so much lower than with any other Grand Prix horse I’ve had before.

Steffen Peters on Rosamunde in extended trot. © 2015 Ken Braddick/
Steffen Peters on Rosamunde in extended trot. © 2015 Ken Braddick/

“That’s why I felt it was OK to try the Grand Prix without stressing her physically and mentally. “The test and the score certainly answered my questions if she should do Grand Prix.

“It felt so good that after I came out of the ring and spoke with Akiko and Shannon (his wife) I went by myself for five minutes in the warmup arena, to spend a few minutes by myself because I was really, really touched by the performance.

“It was amazing, just fabulous.

“I was dreaming of this day that both of them go extremely well.

“Fitness is extremely important. It’s important horses have a lot of good lung capacity.

“What’s even more important is heart capacity. What that horse has in her heart is unbelievable. “Since I got her there has never been a day she has said she can’t do anything.”

His training is patient–if something doesn’t work, leave it. “it’s like a stock portfolio,” was the way he described it. “If you look at it every day it drives you crazy. If you look at it once a week you see the small improvements.

“The good thing is we really do not practice movements that many times. That’s been our philosophy with all our horses. Today was first day in month we did extended trot. We do trot half passes only twice a week. We school canter pirouettes every other day. She sits down so much, I’d be crazy to practice it every day.

“We have a very careful approach. Our track record with our horses speaks for itself. We take it easy. We’re selective about the shows. We simply don’t overdo it.”

Steffen compares Rosamunde to Ravel, the horse on which he became the only American ever to join the exclusive 80 per cent club at Grand Prix.

Steffen Peters on Legolas at Thermal, California. © 2015 Ken Braddick/
Steffen Peters on Legolas at Thermal, California. © 2015 Ken Braddick/

Legolas is very different, he said, with an absolutely amazing talent for piaffe and passage but canter that is a bit of a challenge.

“That’s certainly not the case with Rosie and thats why I compare her quite a bit with Ravel. There are many days I have a sense of deja vu.”

Legolas had six weeks of very relaxed work after the WEG in Normandy and Friday Steffen tried a new warmup routine of performing a couple of collected movements than relaxing mad such a difference “this will be the recipe for the future.”

“Quite frankly I’m trying pretty hard to remember a test in the past when he was better,” he said. “This was so much fun to ride, he was so relaxed, expressive, very clean.”

Legolas stopped a few feet before the com pletion of the final centerline passage. “I should have stopped right there,” Steffen said. “At that point it was such a wonderful test I can’t hold that against him.”

Both horses will ship to Florida’s Global Dressage Festival a month from now with Legolas entered in the $200,000 CDI5* and Rosamunde to compete in the accompanying CDI3*.

Legolas will compete in the World Cup events in Burbank in late February and San Juan Capistrano in March, both in California, to seek to qualify for the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in April. He became only the second American to win the Final the last time it was staged in Las Vegas, in 2009.

By the end of the winter circuits, he said, he believes the horses will tell him which should do the Pan Ams that will decide one nations to win a team berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Steffen said that following the pleurisy his lungs are back to 100 per cent, but he has a buzzing in in his ears that he has been undergoing audio therapy since November. The audio problem affects his sleep, but the therapy is helping to slowly improve the situation.


Class: 180 – FEI Grand Prix
C: Steiner – USA
Rider Nat. Horse C Pl.
Peters, Steffen USA Legolas 80.900 1
Peters, Steffen USA Rosamunde 79.900 2
Ebeling, Jan USA FRH Rassolini 74.100 3
Carter, Mark USA Bellino 64.900 4
Fedri, Victoria USA Viktoor 64.700 5
Peters, Shannon USA Weltinos Magic 62.800 6
Carrera, Margaret USA Rociero XV 58.500 7
Jackson, Dallas Ramsgate D 51.700 8