Steffen Peters and Legolas 92, the number one-ranked Grand Prix rider/horse combination in the country, "wowed" not only spectators but also the judges on their way to dominating the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle on the final day of California Dreaming Productions' Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25 (presented by Hof Kasselmann) in San Juan Capistrano, Cal. Their score of 79.425% gave Peters and Four Winds Farm's 12-year-old Westfalen gelding (Laomedon x Fuerstin by Florestan II) not only the win, but also the highest CDI Grand Prix Freestyle score by an American this year as they look to lead the U.S. Dressage Team to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France this summer. "We were right on the money today, every beat and footfall was right there," explained Peters. "That's how I like to ride freestyles and I think Legolas liked it too. We got clean changes today right off the bat and I felt like I was able to take a deep breath and really enjoy the rest of the test."
The ground jury consisting of Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode (5* NED), Lilo Fore (5* USA), Jane Weatherwax (4* USA), Maria Schwennesen (4* AUS), Brenda Minor (4* CAN) enjoyed Peters' freestyle as well. "What I appreciated was the degree of difficulty of the test while remaining in perfect time with the music," noted Fore, who will be a member of the judging panel for this year's WEG. "The fantastic harmony they show between horse and rider makes you want to give them a good score." Judge Brenda Minor agreed. "For the whole freestyle, I felt they were telling a story," she said. "By the time they were done, I just wanted to stand up and cheer." Earning reserve honors was Michelle Reilly with Sharon Roberts' 13-year-old gray Dutch Warmblood gelding Umeeko (Goodlord x Otilinda by Jacorde) on a score of 71.025%.
In the Intermediaire Freestyle, Elizabeth Ball and Cadence LLC's nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Avanti (Tuchinski x Fleur by Naturel) made their freestyle debut a winning one with a score of 73.708%. Ball is seeking an invitation for the Tim Dutta/USEF Intermediaire I National Championship at the Festival of Champions in June, and was pleased with her mount's effort. "When we started two years ago he barely had a single flying change," she explained. "But he's getting stronger and more confident with every show. Even though I've ridden in many championships I've never been to Gladstone, so I'm very excited to hopefully qualify to go." Finishing in second with 69.458% was Colorado's Allison Dechant Nimmo riding Rufus (Westfalen gelding by Roh Magic, owned by Deborah Carter).
After a couple of years away from the Young Rider division, Catherine Chamberlain is looking to return to the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) for the fourth time as part of the Region 7 Team with her own 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Verdicci (Krack C x Nadine's Monday by Jackson), a horse she's developed since he was just five. "It's great to bring it back out again because I have so much fun with it," said Chamberlain of her Harry Potter-themed freestyle. "My horse is so steady and consistent now, and it makes me very confident in our tests. He's such a super horse and he likes to show, so it's fun for both of us."
Canadian FEI Junior Rider Hannah Beaulieu drove 25 hours with her family to compete at the California Dreaming Productions' CDI series, and continued to improve her scores towards hopeful qualification for the NAJYRC in Kentucky aboard Nancy Olson's Rheinlander gelding Pharoah (by Fidermark) with a Freestyle score of 68.042%. "I've never experienced a show like this, and I've learned so much here," she said. "I learn more about myself and my horse with every ride. Today Pharoah felt really, really good, and I'm satisfied."
As classes concluded, competitors, officials, and spectators raved about the efforts of the California Dreaming Productions team in conducting their inaugural series of premier West Coast dressage competitions sponsored by Hof Kasselmann. "We are so fortunate to have these events," said CDI large- and small-tour competitor Elizabeth Ball. "These shows have been just spectacular, and it's been fun for us to be a part of it."
Complete results from the Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25 (presented by Hof Kasselmann) are available on the California Dreaming Productions website, http://www.californiadreamingproductions.com.