Steffen Peters announced that he has regrettably resigned as Floriano’s rider. For the past several years, Peters and the 17-year-old Westphalian gelding have been one of America’s strongest pairs in international competition.
Just this year, the pair finished third among tough competition at the Dressage World Cup in Las Vegas. And in 2006, they were the U.S. national dressage champions and the highest-placed Americans in dressage competition at the World Equestrian Games, where they took a sixth place in the Grand Prix Freestyle competition.
Steffen Peters announced that he has regrettably resigned as Floriano’s rider. For the past several years, Peters and the 17-year-old Westphalian gelding have been one of America’s strongest pairs in international competition. Just this year, the pair finished third among tough competition at the Dressage World Cup in Las Vegas. And in 2006, they were the U.S. national dressage champions and the highest-placed Americans in dressage competition at the World Equestrian Games, where they took a sixth place in the Grand Prix Freestyle competition.
Peters and Floriano were strong contenders for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Dressage Team. Peters said he doesn’t know if another rider has been selected to take over the ride on Floriano, but he still believes the gelding would be an asset to the 2008 Olympic team. “In my heart, I still believe that Floriano could be a good addition to the U.S. team for next year. On a bad day, he can still pull a 71 or 72 percent,” Peter said. “It’s not always about being the best but about being the most reliable. And if the decision is to retire him, then I feel that he went out on top because he scored an 80 percent in the Grand Prix Freestyle at his last show.”
Peters said he made the decision to resign because he was not able to commit solely to Floriano, as the gelding’s owners, Laurelyn and Stephen Browning had desired. “They asked if I could show Floriano exclusively, but I have an obligation to my other clients as well. So, I felt that I didn’t really have a choice. I have so many other wonderful horses and I feel that I have an obligation to my other clients as well.”
On Monday, October 22, Peters evacuated his San Diego barn as a result of the wildfires raging throughout Southern California. He took all 57 horses from his barn, including Floriano, to the Del Mar fairgrounds. On Wednesday, Peters was given the all-clear to return the horses to his barn, however, Floriano was picked up by the Brownings and did not go home with Peters.
For Peters, the decision to resign was very difficult and rather emotional as he has a strong attachment to Floriano. He expressed deep appreciation for what the Brownings and Floriano had done for his career. “I appreciate every single thing the Brownings did for me. Without Floriano, I wouldn’t be where I am. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had to compete internationally. I appreciate every opportunity that the Brownings and Floriano gave me.”
Steffen Peters Accounts Recent Evacuation of California Fires
By Lynndee Kemmet
Southern California horses are slowly returning to their home stables as California firefighters gain ground in their battle against multiple wildfires. Although several fires are still burning in a number of California counties and thousands of residents remain evacuated, cooler weather and a drop in winds are helping fire officials turn the tide in their favor. And as life slowly returns to normal for some of America’s top riders, they’re finding a minute to relate their stories of the past week.
For Steffen and Shannon Peters, their saga began on Monday, October 22 when officials ordered them to evacuate their barn. It wasn’t their first evacuation. They also had to flee during the 2003 fires and hence, they already had a good exit plan in place. They quickly moved all 57 horses in their barn to safety at the Del Mar fairgrounds about 20 minutes away. Steffen Peters said that as “terrifying as it was, we were well prepared.”
“It’s a very safe place,” he said of the fairgrounds. “They have 2,500 stalls the county was extremely organized and had hay and shavings available. We were well prepared ahead of time because it looked like we would have to evacuate so when the order came, we were ready. There are about 200,000 horses in San Diego county so we left early in order to get enough stalls. Needless to say, every single one of those stalls was filled.”
Less lucky was Peters’ good friend, Guenter Seidel. By the time his evacuation order came, the fairgrounds were full and he was directed to a polo field. “The fire came very close to Guenter’s barn, less than quarter mile away,” Peters said. “He evacuated to the polo field, but then that was in danger and he had to evacuate again. He was definitely much worse off than us.” The latest word is that Seidel and his horses are safely back home.
Life at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Wasn’t All Bad
Peters said it took only a matter of hours to evacuate all the horses from his barn. What helped is that hunter/jumper rider Mike Endicott operates out of the same barn and he had two tractor-trailer rigs on hand. That, combined with the horse trailers the Peters had, made it relatively easy to get all the horses out quickly. Once the horses were settled in, the Peters headed home.
“Late in the evening we got back to the house and we were just about to take a shower when the police told us to get out,” Peters said. “So, we grabbed a few things and some important papers and left. We went back to the fairgrounds and slept with the horses.”
An entire community of horses, people and pets sprang up around the Del Mar fairgrounds, but one thing Peters said he didn’t see was chaos. In fact, he had nothing but great things to say about local officials and San Diego’s equestrian community that was camped out at the site. “The county had everything perfectly organized. I would hear people asking for things like paper plates, cots, etc. and within an hour, it would be delivered,” Peters said. “Many people stayed over night with their horses. They hold various expos there as well so they actually have some housing for people. And what was so wonderful is that they even let people bring their pets. That made a huge difference because in other cities during a crisis, people had to leave their pets behind and that made them reluctant to leave their homes.”
On the Road Back to a Normal Life
On Wednesday, the Peters were given permission to load up their horses and return them to their own stable. Although they haven’t experienced any shortages of feed, hay or shavings, what they are facing is another problem resulting from the fires – smoke. California state and local officials are warning residents to beware of the health dangers from smoke and that means many horses can’t be worked.
“Obviously, we can wear masks and protect ourselves,” Peters said. “With the horses, we’ve definitely had to deal with some runny noses and watery eyes. And these last few days we weren’t able to train because of the poor air quality.” Horses were back in training on Saturday.
If anyone thinks this latest brush with fire should be enough to make people flee California, Peters certainly isn’t among that group. “This experience certainly makes you appreciate what’s normal. Things don’t even have to be good, just normal,” he said. “But this is a desert climate and it won’t be the last time that we have to deal with this. It’s the price we pay for the times when the other days perfect. It still wasn’t bad enough for me to think about moving out of San Diego.”