Lexington, KY - The U.S. Dressage Team has finished fourth in the FEI World Dressage Championship. This was the Team Grand Prix competition, and today's riders - Tina Konyot on Calecto V, owned by Tina Konyot, and Steffen Peters with Ravel, owned by Four Winds Farm and Akiko Yamazaki - completed tests that helped the team finish fourth. The two other combinations rounding out the team are Katherine Bateson-Chandler on Nartan, and Todd Flettrich on Otto.
The first American rider today was Konyot of Palm City, FL, who rode Calecto V, a 12-year-old Danish stallion by Come Back II x Rastell, to a total score of 69.915% and finished in 16th place. Their judges' scores were: E: 68.511%, H: 71.277%, C: 70.000%, M: 67.872%, B: 71.915.
Konyot had a mistake in the final centerline movement from the passage to the piaffe. She stated, "I didn't ride it. It's never the horse, it's us. I love that boy so much and he felt so good to me. He felt superb in the warm-up. Maybe I just said, 'Ok, this is feeling so wonderful.' He stopped and thought it was over and then he picked up the piaffe again. It was sheer stupidity on my part. All I had to do was close my legs a little bit and keep riding him."
"I wanted to do the best I possibly could and I didn't do the best I possibly could," she admitted. "It was good and I'm happy, but I wanted to do better for them. I know how much support everybody has been giving each other and I know that that horse has it in him. He's a very special horse."
Despite that error, Konyot still felt very positive about her ride and her horse. "He's so happy and so fit. He walks up here like it's so much fun. He's a very calm, cool competitor. He's not a nervous horse, so he's really on his game all the time," she noted. "The canter tour was spectacular. He has a beautiful canter, super changes. He has a very good walk. That's the highlight of Calecto for right now. I think it'll change as he gets older and he gets more time. It's just been one and a half years that we've been doing the grand prix. He's a fairly new grand prix horse compared to most of them."
This was also Konyot's first time riding in a championship event. She expressed, "It's absolutely fantastic, a great, great feeling to be on a team. Every day is a wonderful feeling, being able to do what we do, how privileged we are to ride these beautiful horses."
Peters, who is from San Diego, CA, and Ravel have been one of the most successful U.S. dressage duos in history. As anchor of the team, Peters wanted to help the team reach the podium. With strong performances from The Netherlands, Great Britain, and Germany, however, his extremely good score of 78.596% was not quite enough. The U.S. Team finished on a score of 218.128 for fourth place.
Peters and Ravel received the following scores from the judges: E: 80.213, H: 78.936, C: 78.298, M: 77.660, B: 77.872.
Peters and Ravel, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Contango x Democraat, received a boisterous welcome into the arena and loud cheering when they exited. Peters always enjoys riding for American spectators and said, "It's always very, very special. There's no doubt that there's that electricity from an American crowd that is very, very hard to reproduce anywhere else in the world. I could feel the electricity on the last centerline. I just couldn't wait to get out there and make a circle around the scoreboard and take a look at the final scores."
Of his performance, Peters explained, "Seventy-eight is one of our higher scores. That's exactly the score we had last year in Las Vegas. To keep it up and maintain that is just as hard as bringing a horse up to this level. I'm obviously very, very happy with a 78. I've done the mistake before where I've chased the scoreboard. That was last year at Florida. It was one of my worst tests ever. Today I rode exactly what Ravel was offering."
He described his test saying, "The flying changes felt really good. I think the canter pirouettes were probably the best ones he's done so far in an arena. He surprised me a little bit with how much he wanted to go in the canter extension. I didn't do a whole lot. I collected him in the corner and gave him the rein and he just went like there's no tomorrow. I was a little concerned with that transition back, but it all worked out beautifully. There's still plenty there."
Finishing in the top three today was encouraging for Peters. He said, "Today I was in third place. That's awesome. Let's face it, both number one and number two were over 80%. This gives us good momentum into the next day tomorrow. I'm going to do everything I can to hold that position and fight for more. We usually score a little bit better in the Grand Prix Special. I love those long floating half passes in there. I can't wait."
While Peters did not produce the score needed to move the U.S. Team into medal contention, it was a good finish for a team consisting of one veteran and three riders that had never been to a championship before. "Fourth place for our team is a little bit disappointing, and there's no doubt that I really wanted to get the bronze medal for the team, especially after we came so close in Hong Kong," he admitted. "I came out of the ring and said, 'Sorry guys, it's not quite enough, but it's awfully close.' For the three rookies on the team, I thought they did a wonderful job."
U.S. Dressage Managing Director and Chef d'Equipe Eva Salomon said of today's finish, "It's been really exciting and I'm absolutely thrilled. I think they've done so well and I'm really happy with it. Our goal was to qualify for the Olympics, and we did that. Now that we are qualified for the Olympic Games, for next year we can start to plan how to get our riders over to Europe, go to the big events there, and go to other CDIO team competitions. We hope to have at least six to eight riders so that we have a strong base for the Olympics."
Salomon also credited USEF Dressage Technical Advisor Anne Gribbons for the strong team performance. "All of the horses have been going really well. Anne Gribbons has been fantastic in coaching them and helping them along, especially from a judge's point of view in showing them how to train and how to get their horses to perform in the best way," Salomon explained. "From what I've seen, the horses have really improved, especially with the three 'rookies' so to speak."
Salomon echoed the sentiments of the team riders that their experience working together to represent their country was a unique experience. "I don't think I've ever been with a team that's been so close. I find that very impressive," she remarked.
By finishing in the top 30 of today's competition, Peters, Konyot, and Bateson-Chandler have qualified for tomorrow's Grand Prix Special, which will be the first individual competition for medals. The Grand Prix Special will be in the Main Stadium with part 1 starting at 10 a.m. and part 2 at 2:30 p.m. The top 15 riders from the Special will advance to Friday's Grand Prix Freestyle competition.
Photos: Tina Konkot and Calecto V. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.
Steffen Peters and Ravel. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.