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Peters and Legolas star again at Festival

Special to the Horsetrader - April 5th, 2012 - Show & Event News

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — West Coast dressage riders and horses enjoyed thrilling competition in a spectacular venue at the Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J, presented by HorseShow.com at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park March 29 – April 1.

As the site of the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Dressage Selection Trials for the Olympic Games, it was only natural for this spectacular facility to once again open its doors to North America’s top dressage competitors who hope to become members of Team USA at this year’s Olympic Games in London. Adding to the excitement, this show was held in conjunction with the Blenheim Spring Classic Hunter/Jumper show featuring a $40,000 Grand Prix jumping event.

“I love seeing this show here with the jumpers – I think that’s more the way we need to go in this country,” said judge Gary Rockwell (5* USA). “When you can combine them, it’s more interesting for everyone, and draws a crowd.”

Riders agreed.

“I always thought this was a great show facility, and I have great memories from 2004 and 2008,” said Olympian Steffen Peters. “I love it, and my horses seemed to like it just as much as I did.”

Fellow Grand Prix competitors Jan Ebeling (who will fly to Europe this week to compete in the FEI World Cup Finals) and David Blake held equally high praise for the venue.

“This is the type of show I like,” said Blake. “I wish they could all be like this.”

The weekend’s dressage action proved to be just as exciting as the jumping. Peters and Four Winds Farm’s 10-year-old Westfalen gelding, Legolas 92, (Laomedon x Fuerstin by Florestan II) continued their winning ways, sweeping the Grand Prix and the Olympic Grand Prix Special Tests with impressive scores of 75.255% and 75.933%, respectively.

“This is a wonderful horse which has the potential to earn even higher scores as he continues to get stronger,” noted judge Gary Rockwell (5* USA), who will be officiating for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

Fellow ground jury member Mary Seefried (5* AUS) agreed.

“His horse’s attitude is wonderful, and we saw a lot of harmony today,” she said. “Now we’re just waiting for him to put the pedal down.”

Peters was understandably pleased with his mount’s performance.

“He’s getting more and more relaxed, and even the difficult transitions in the Special seemed effortless for him,” he explained. “I’ve never ridden a horse that has so much fire on one side and ice on the other: I can give him the rein in the free walk and he’s completely relaxed, but in the passage and piaffe he feels like he can explode at any second, but doesn’t. It’s the most amazing feeling.”

Since Legolas only arrived in the U.S. from Germany three months ago, Peters credits his success to their having quickly established a strong partnership.

“The best part so far is seeing how much he is trusting me,” Peters noted. “His confidence in me seems to help him contain his energy. With other horses, that trust process usually takes a whole lot longer, but not in this case. Even when he sees me coming across the parking lot to the barn, he starts calling to me. It’s a special connection.”

In the small tour, Blake rode the impressive 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion, Royal Prinz (Royal Diamond x Mystica by Dream of Glory, owned by Willard and Teresa Simmons) to victory in both the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I Tests, with scores of 68.860% and 70.921%, respectively.

“He was really, really good, and super focused,” said Blake. “It’s all very easy for him; it feels like when he goes in there, he enjoys himself. So I just try to maintain that feeling.”

In the freestyle, Rochelle Kilberg (CAN) claimed the win on a score of 69.583% with Rudy, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Rotspon x Waldluft by Werther, owned by Kilberg and Ben Vermeulen).

“I thought my ride was really good,” said Kilberg. “He’s a little tired but the electric atmosphere in the arena woke him up a bit. He did a great job for me today.”

Canada’s Monica Houweling rode the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Rifradin (Gribaldi x Atradin by Formateur, owned by Linda Houweling), to a winning score of 67.061% in the Young Rider Team Test, while Mackinzie Pooley (USA) rode Deena Smith’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Brigadier (Batido x Lady Deco by Art Deco), to top both the Individual Test (67.456%) and the freestyle (69.083%).

Despite being ill, Pooley prevailed by counting on her steady partner to get the job done. “Brigadier took care of me because I’m not feeling very well,” said Pooley. “He’s very well trained and I had to trust in that.”

Meanwhile, Kalynn Harrington (USA) topped the field of CDI Juniors in both the Team and Individual Tests, riding Elly Schobel’s 14-year-old American Warmblood gelding “Raison d’Etre” (Regulus x Little Doozie by Uzi) to winning scores of 63.964% and 64.079%. For the freestyle, Julia Burke (CAN) earned the blue ribbon with her own 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding “Patrick” (Balhinrobe Pearl x Serena Dawn by Northern Minuet) with 58.042%.

More results: See website http://bit.ly/24ADress

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