Lars Petersen Now American Citizen, Competed for Denmark at Olympics, Championships
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 4, 2016–Lars Petersen became an American citizen on Thursday and intends to ride for the United States after a career competing for Denmark at the Olympic Games, World and European Championships and World Cup Finals.
Lars, 50 years old, was sworn in as a U.S. citizen at the Citizenship and Immigration Services in Royal Palm Beach adjacent to Wellington. His wife, Melissa Taylor, and a small group of friends attended.
“I will continue to ride for Denmark while campaigning Mariett,” he told dressage-news.com referring to the 18-year-old Danish Warmblood mare he rode on the Danish team at the World Games in Normandy in 2014.
“But I will definitely switch for the next horses that are coming up.”
He has to wait a year under International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rules but expects to start the countdown in the Fall.
He is competing Mariett at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington as part of Denmark’s campaign to qualify a minimum of three and as many as four individual combinations by Mar. 6 so the country can start a team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Asked whether the citizenship ceremony was emotional, Lars said: “I must say, it was a little.”
With Melissa Taylor, an American who has been his long time personal and business partner who married at Christmas, 2013 he has built a successful training center and a schedule of coaching clinics in North America and in Denmark for Blue Hors where he was the trainer for 10 years.
Lars has been in the United States for 15 years and has wanted to remain here.
“I have no plans to go anywhere else,” he told dressage-news.com in an interview when he decided to switch citizenship. “I really like it here. I feel I should ride for America.”
Mariett is owned by Marcia Pepper, an American, and Elfenfeuer that he is bringing out at Grand Prix this year is also owned by an American.
Lars first moved to the United States in the 1980s for three years, but moved back to Denmark to become trainer at Blue Hors.
A succession of horses–Utopia, Uffe Korshojgaard, Cavan and Mariett–took him to the 1996 Olympics, the 1994, 1998 2002 and 2014 World Equestrian Games and the World Cup Finals in 2001 and 2002 and as high as No. 2 in the world rankings. He also rode in the 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2001 European Championships.
He came back to America 15 years ago to stay.
He has had success with Mariett that he had originally matched with Marcia Pepper. She competed the mare to Prix St. Georges by 2009.
One of the horse’s hooves was torn off in a freak accident and after lengthy rehabilitation, Marcia wanted Lars to keep riding Mariett. By the winter of 2012, she was in the CDI Grand Prix arena.
Success on Wellington’s Global circuit has put the pair at or near the top of prize money earnings that has helped fund transportation and competition costs in Europe.