Steffen Peters’ Photo Tour of Tokyo Olympic Equestrian Center

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Suppenkasper ridden by Steffen Peters looking at the Olympic competition arena where dressage will begin in six days. The spectator stands capable of seating more than 9,000 people will be as empty during competition as shown here because of coronavirus restrictions.

July 18, 2021

Images of the Olympic equestrian venue in Tokyo as provided by Steffen Peters from the saddle on Suppenkasper days away from the rider’s fifth Olympics for the United States.

Along with Adrienne Lyle on Salvino and Sabine Schut-Kerry on Sanceo, Steffen and Suppenkasper will be looking to be on the team medals podium a week from Tuesday. The U.S. comes into these Olympics delayed for a year by the Covid-19 pandemic having won bronze at the Rio Games in 2016 and silver at the world championships in Tryon in 2018.

The stables at Tokyo’s Equestrian Park, originally the venue for the 1964 Olympics that has undergone major renovations to provide a state of the art facility. The horse keeping an eye on things is Suppenkasper.

In a report to dressage-news.com, Steffen of San Diego, California describes the venue as “incredible” with completely new spacious air conditioned stalls.

Preparations by the 60 riders from 30 nations–15 teams each with three combinations and 15 individuals–with their horses, grooms and support for these Games has been a year longer than scheduled because of the pandemic. Covid-19 entering its 18th month as a pandemic as well an equine herpes virus outbreak in Western Europe over the winter had a major impact. A planned European competition tour by the top U.S. team prospects was stymied along with plans to fly the horses from New York directly to Tokyo.

Stewards at the accreditation check point at the stables that Steffen described as friendly, as were those at the airport on arrival.

The U.S. used the opportunity to focus on training ahead of the selection competition a month ago to be in Wellington, Florida where the subtropical climate is similar to Tokyo this time of year.

North American-based riders, one Australian team combination, the Canadian squad of three team members and a reserve as well as the three American team riders and a reserve, flew to Aachen, Germany to join European competitors for the required quarantine.

“At the moment,” Steffen reported, “the weather is identical to Florida but is expected to be warmer for the competition.”

Two days of Grand Prix, next Saturday and Sunday, will qualify the top eight teams to move on to  the Grand Prix Special to music on Tuesday, July 27, to vie for the gold, silver and bronze medals. No individual combinations will compete in the Special. The top overall combinations from the Grand Prix will qualify for the Freestyle and individual medals.

Warm-up arena alongside the competition venue.

Spectators, both foreign and domestic have been banned and the number of team support personnel has been cut significantly.

However, Akiko Yamazaki, the owner with her husband Jerry Yang of Four Winds Farm, that acquired Suppenkasper from German Olympian HelenLangehanenberg in 2017, is in Tokyo. So, too, is Betsy Juliano, the owner of Salvino.

Akiko’s mother lives in Tokyo and was a spectator at the 1964 Games there. So having a horse in this year’s Olympics is a family affair. Akiko and Jerry owned Ravel that Steffen rode on the U.S. team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and Legolas that was on the 2016 Olympic team.

Suppenkasper enjoying a grass field and in the shade at the Tokyo Olympic equestrian center.