Lexington, Ky., Sept. 29, 2010 — U.S. rider Steffen Peters made history today when he rode Ravel to the Grand Prix Special individual bronze medal in the Dressage World Championships, presented by Alltech, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. He is the first American ever to win an individual medal in the World Championships.
Peters, 46, from San Diego, Calif., scored 78.54 percent percent, to finish behind gold medalist Edward Gal of the Netherlands on Moorlands Totilas (85.70%) and Laura Bechtolsheimer, 25, of Great Britain, on Mistral Hojris (81.70%). The three riders finished yesterday’s team Grand Prix in the same order.
Peters was born in Germany and immigrated to United States in 1992. He rode on his first U.S. team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, winning the team bronze medal. At the 2006 World Equestrian Games, Peters and Ravel, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, led the US. team to the bronze medal. They finished a painfully close fourth in the 2008 Olympics, and in 2009 they won the FEI World Cup Final.
Peters shed a few tears at this evening’s medal ceremony in the Main Stadium. “I can tell you pretty well how many years, months and days have passed since I just missed the medal in Hong Kong [in 2008]. That it finally happened today was huge, tremendous,” he said.
Peters added, “Certainly yesterday was a huge pressure for the team, but there’s never been a bronze medal for the U.S. before, so I was beside myself on the podium.”
Gal, 40, said he was just as thrilled to be wearing both the team and individual Grand Prix Special gold medals. “Totilas felt a bit more relaxed today than yesterday, so I could ride him a bit more, and it worked out great. I am very happy,” he said.
Gal tried to describe the feeling of riding Totilas, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion. “It’s so difficult to explain. You have to ride it to fell it, and I will not allow that,” he said with a smile. “He has so much energy and so much power, but you always have the feeling that you can control it. And he doesn’t want to make a mistake, ever. I don’t think I will ever get to ride another horse like him.”
Mary Seefried of Australia, the judge at C, had high praise for the medalists. “What impressed the judges most about the top three was the harmony of the riders and the precision of their riding,” she said.
The Dressage World Championships climax with the musical freestyle on Friday night, starting at 7:00 p.m. The 15 highest-scoring riders from today’s Grand Prix Special have qualified for their final ride of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
“Normally the freestyle is my best test, but I hope I can show it under the lights on Friday night,” said Gal.