Suppenkasper “More Relaxed” After Post-Olympic Silver Medal Performance Vacation Returns to Competition With Steffen Peters

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Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper at the Tokyo Olympics. © 2021 Lily Forado for dressage-news.com

Feb. 15, 2022

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Suppenkasper returns to competition with Steffen Peters this week for the first time since the United States team historic silver medal performance and a vacation that has given the 14-year-old “Mopsie” more energy and a breakthrough in dealing with the “hurdle” of  the piaffe that he hopes to show at Desert Dressage CDI3* in Thermal, California.

With the world championships in August the main focus this year, Steffen is already looking to the World Cup Final in Omaha, Nebraska in 2023 as a “huge goal… to ride in front of American fans” a Freestyle improved even beyond that shown at the Olympics by what became known on social media as “The Rave Horse.”

Suppenkasper spent two weeks after the Tokyo Games recuperating at the German farm of Helen Langehanenberg who developed Suppenkasper to Grand Prix before being bought by Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang for Steffen to compete.  Then the KWPN gelding (Spielberg x IPS Krack C) got a longer vacation at home in San Diego, California before resuming consistent work in early November.

The Tokyo Games where Steffen was on the team with Adrienne Lyle on Salvino and Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo was the fifth Olympics for the 57-year-old rider, second as an American only to Robert Dover whose total was six. The first was on Udon in Atlanta in 1996, followed by Ravel in Hong Kong in 2008 and London 2012 and Legolas in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The World Cup title on Ravel in Las Vegas in 2009 was a major highlight, only the second American to do so, the other being Debbie McDonald on Brentina in 2003. So, too, four World Equestrian Games that include Kentucky in 2010 where on Ravel he received individual and freestyle bronze medals and on Suppenkasper in 2018 in Tryon for team silver.

USA Olympic dressage team of Adrienne Lyle, Steffen Peters and Sabine Schut-Kery showing off silver medals. © 2021 Lily Forado for dressage-news.com

The World Cup title on Ravel in Las Vegas in 2009 was a major highlight, only the second American to do so, the other being Debbie McDonald on Brentina in 2003. So, too, four World Equestrian Games that include Kentucky in 2010 where on Ravel he received individual and freestyle bronze medals and on Suppenkasper in 2018 in Tryon for team silver.

The time off for Mopsie, as he was nicknamed in the early years of being trained by Helen Langehanenberg, “did him really well,” Steffen said.

“More energy, the piaffe is less tense so we’re getting less swaying–simply a little bit more relaxed about everything.

The fitness level looks good and he is ready to go…”

Compared with pre-Olympics?

“Watching the videos, the piaffe looks better. That was our only hurdle. It was always very active but sometimes he would simply sit down, try too hard. Now, the piaffe is plenty active but the swaying is almost gone. You really have to look for it. But there are many piaffes I do on the centerline facing the mirror and I’m quite happy with it.

“The energy is great; he’s a horse that always has incredible energy. He feels very motivated, a bit more solid in his movements.

“From my perspective we need to build on the freestyle that’s becoming more and more important. I think he will always carry the name ‘The Rave Horse’ and I’ve got to do my best to build on that freestyle now that we have the music that is much appreciated by millions of people. I have to work a bit on the choreography. But the entire freestyle has the potential of maybe doing something big in the future.”

Steffen Peters on Ravel holding aloft the World Cup won at Las Vegas in 2009. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Steffen is, though, still pretty much speechless over the Tokyo experience. Despite his success, he recalls his struggles with depression that he first disclosed publicly to this correspondent in 2019 at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, the scene of some his greatest triumphs.

“I honestly still have to find a way to put all of that in words for Tokyo; I’m not joking,” he said. “There hasn’t been a week when I look at pictures from Tokyo with Akiko, with Debbie, with my team mates… there’s such an incredible memory not just my career, just an incredible memory of my lifetime. Eespecially you know how difficult things were for me before.

“To have a result like that at an Olympic Games is just… I’m just trying to find the right words…’icing on the cake’ would be degrading it. It meant so much to me for Akikio, for Jerry, for our entire team.

“Any time you go into the show arena you’re still proving something. We’ve done this in Tokyo. It’s a memory nobody can take away from us and I can’t just say, ‘Well we did Tokyo and now everything else doesn’t mean as much’. Of course it means a lot.

“The memory of Tokyo is so strong and it meant so much to me that I will always cherish that and I know that if things don’t go great in the next few years I will always have that memory. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, it was that special in Tokyo.

Team mate Adrienne made “a beautiful video of the three of us,” he said, “and I don’t miss watching it at least once a week.”

Tokyo was in stark contrast to his first Games, at Atlanta in 1996.

Steffen Peters on Udon waving an American flag as he leaves the arena at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta where the USA team earned bronze. © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Photo

“In Atlanta I was so nervous I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep,” he recalled. “To be honest when we got that medal it was a huge relief. I suffered so much the weeks before I was still feeling pretty sick when we got the medal that, of course, was a huge relief. But from there I got extremely hungry for future Olympics. It worked out great.

“Comparing that to Tokyo knowing what my team mates, Adrienne and Sabine, were capable of just going by the selection trials that gave me a lot of confidence. If everybody did just what we did at the trials it could be good enough for a silver medal. To be honest on that particular day even a bronze medal would have been another huge achievement and that it was silver was simply incredible.”