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Lords of the Ring

Peters inspires on both Legolas, 'Rosie', as Southern California dressage in bloom

Releases and Horsetrader Staff Reports - April 2nd, 2015 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

1504A CoverSAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Southern California sunshine cast dressage in full bloom during March, filling Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park with back-to-back events on successive weekends that proved 2015 will be an exciting year.

With the Pan American Games in Toronto this July and the Olympics a year away, intensity is raised as competitors jostle for attention and qualifications.

Top American rider Steffen Peters cemented his top stature across both weekends. At the California Dreaming Productions’ Capistrano Dressage International CDI-W/Y/J/U-25 on March 19 – 22, Peters successfully punched his ticket to next month’s Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas by not only winning the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle with Legolas 92, but doing so with a new personal-best score of 80.925%. The following weekend, at the California Dreaming Productions’ Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25, Peters took his young star Rosamunde to her first Grand Prix Freestyle performance, and the Rheinlander mare affectionately known as “Rosie” looked like a seasoned veteran, earning a unanimous win under all five FEI judges with an impressive 77.750% final score.

Utilizing stablemate Legolas 92’s recognizable David Bowie/Coldplay/U-2 music and demanding choreography, Rosie (Rock Forever x First Lady by Fidermark) owned by Four Winds Farm) proved she was up to the challenge, including successful execution of double pirouettes, piaffe fans, and tricky transitions – all at just eight years old. In her inaugural freestyle effort, her score was just three points less than Legolas’ performance the previous week.

In the first day of CDI Grand Prix tests in San Juan Capistrano March 21, Steffen Peters finished first-second on Legolas 92.

In the first day of CDI Grand Prix tests in San Juan Capistrano March 21, Steffen Peters finished first-second on Legolas 92.

Terri Miller photo

Finishing in second with 71.450% was Jan Ebeling aboard another up-and-coming star, the Hanoverian stallion FRH Rassolini (Rubioso N x Sweetheart by Silvano), owned by Vantage Equestrian Group.

Peters’s intention in using the freestyle was not to make the performance a game of “who rode it best” between his two talented mounts.

“I chose to use Legolas’ freestyle because I wanted to have another practice run before the World Cup in a competition setting — you can practice it at home, but it’s just not the same,” he said. “It’s still a bit difficult for Rosie, but she embraced it and was so beautifully with me the entire time. She wasn’t tired at all from these last two weeks of competing. She was as happy as ever, and I actually had to hold her back in the extensions a bit and say, ‘not yet’.

“We had a little mistake in the one-tempis, but the two-tempis were improved even from Thursday’s Grand Prix and her pirouettes were amazing, reminding me again of Ravel,” he added. “[FEI judge] Gary Rockwell said to me after the class that he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen a horse do half-passes as easily as Rosie, and that’s exactly how she feels. You simply point her in the direction you need to go, and she just offers it. It’s a wonderful feeling. Like I’ve said before, gravity is just a suggestion to her.”

Peters noted that next on the calendar for Rosie is to join stablemate Legolas in Las Vegas, where her growing number of fans can look forward to a seeing her participate in a special dressage performance during the World Cup Finals.

Until earlier this season, Tracy Roenick hadn’t cantered down centerline in a dressage competition since 2005. But on Saturday she showed no sign of being out of practice as she and her elegant black Oldenburg mare Apassionata (Sir Donnerhall x Amelie by Friedensfuerst) decisively claimed the CDI Intermediaire I Freestyle victory with 72.625% over second-placed Susan Martin and Veto (KWPN gelding [Montecristo x Orka by Rubinstein], owned by Stahl Child Dressage, LLC) on 70.100%.

The Capistrano Dressage Prix St. George test epitomized the competitiveness, as winner Mette Rosencrantz and Anne Solbraekke's De Noir 3 were one of three entries to surpass 70%.

The Capistrano Dressage Prix St. George test epitomized the competitiveness, as winner Mette Rosencrantz and Anne Solbraekke’s De Noir 3 were one of three entries to surpass 70%.

Terri Miller photo

Apassionata recorded several CDI small tour wins last year with Peters, but after a decade of staying out of the saddle to support her family and her daughter’s riding career, it was finally time for Roenick to take her turn. “When we first got ‘Pia’ she was feisty, and I didn’t even know if I’d get along with her,” she said. “Steffen encouraged me to try, but when you’ve been out of the ring for so many years and then jump right back into a CDI with five judges looking at you as you enter the arena, it’s hard and you can’t help but wonder, ‘what am I doing here?'”, Roenick admitted, adding that show nerves had been an additional obstacle for her overcome in successfully returning to competition.

“The first two shows were a nervous struggle for me — and she’s a sensitive horse, so she feeds off of what I’m feeling,” said Roenick, who settled down the first weekend and then was settled during the second. “I didn’t have a whiff of nerves, and I could think about what I was doing without being overwhelmed. Pia was super too. What a thrill not only to win, but also to get a great score from this judging panel.”

At the Capistrano Dressage International, last year’s NAYRC Team, Individual, and Freestyle Gold Medalist, Catherine Chamberlain, completed a sweep of the CDI Young Rider division with a win in the Freestyle with a score of 69.775%. With her new partner, the Dutch Warmblood gelding Avesto Van Weltevreden (Gribaldi x Tevesta by Krack C), owned by Kimberly Pribble, Chamberlain is undefeated this year in her division and looks poised for a possible return to the NAJYRC in Kentucky for a fifth time.

“Just a year ago I showed him here in San Juan Capistrano at Third Level, and he’s come such a long way in a short time,” she said. “He’s always the same horse in the ring as he is in the warm-up, and that consistency is one of the things that I think makes him a solid competitor.

“This was his first freestyle ever, but he was great and the music didn’t seem to faze him at all,” she added. “It got him just the right amount of ‘pumped up’. I made a brand new freestyle last year for my other horse Verdicci to specifically use at the NAJYRC and only used it once, so I decided to try it with Avesto and it worked really well for him. We tweaked the choreography a bit because he’s still a little green at this level, but he handled it wonderfully. I’m so grateful to his owner for this opportunity to ride him, and I’m excited to see how he keeps developing. He’s a very cool horse.”

In their debut of a new freestyle, Sabine Schut-Kery and her Sanceo edged Elizabeth Ball with a winning 73.950% at the Capistrano Dressage.

In their debut of a new freestyle, Sabine Schut-Kery and her Sanceo edged Elizabeth Ball with a winning 73.950% at the Capistrano Dressage.

Terri Miller photo

Another repeat winner wrapped up the Festival of the Horse CDI competition as the lovely pair of Genay Vaughn and her impressive black Hanoverian stallion Donarweiss GGF (De Niro x SPS Highlight by Hohenstein, owned by Starr Vaughn Equestrian, LLC) claimed their second straight victory in the CDI Under 25 division in topping the 16-25 Grand Prix Test with 66.705%.

Glenda McElroy, who runs California Dreaming Productions as well as Cornerstone Event Management, sees the good fortune of dressage fans in Southern Californian.

“Personally, I think many of the very best American dressage riders are right here, so the level of competition is always very high in Southern California,” said McElroy, whose quick to credit the California Dressage Society for the sport’s growth since the CDS was founded in 1969. “The riders here are always striving to be a little bit better than they were the year before.

“And it’s interesting,” she added.”Although they certainly are rivals and perform their best to win, everybody is very civil to one another here. We’ve all grown up in the sport and understand that it’s a lot of hard work to get a dressage horse to grand prix, hard work on everyone’s part — including the horse.”

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