USET Foundation Dressage Festival of Champions 2006

Grand Prix Special Proves Depth of the Future American Dressage Team for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games - Aachen

Steffen Peters and Floriano Put in a Ride of a Lifetime


“The bottom line is I consider myself a pretty tough guy," said Steffen Peters, "but when I come out of the ring crying you know it was a pretty good test. I was beside myself. It was just one of those rides that you don’t have too many times in your life."

Even after Steffen Peters stated on Thursday that his horse had given all he had to give and this was the best it got after a score of 74.5% in their Grand Prix test, today Floriano and Peters ate their words when a 77.24% flashed across the score board. It was a breathtaking performance for the crowd gathered at Gladstone, from Steffen Peters, of San Diego, CA, and Floriano, a 16-year-old Westphalian gelding (x Floristan), owned by Laurelyn and Steve Browning,

Everything was so expressive and so clean without any mistakes. Just to have him that supple and that energetic at the age of 16 is unbelievable. And that’s how he started out today in the warm-up. He was so ready to go again. After the Grand Prix, you expect them to be a little tired. But there was absolutely no sign of that at all.”

When asked today if they could do any better, this time Peters had little to say. “That’s what I said on Thursday, but it’s always great when the horses prove you wrong. There was definitely more in there, and like I said it was so amazing to have him that loose and that supple and ahead of the leg. He had the same amount of energy but was just a little bit more supple. That made all the difference today.” Peters credits his wife and Klaus Balkenhol for helping him prepare.


Grand Prix Special Proves Depth of the Future American Dressage Team for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games - Aachen

Guenter Seidel and Aragon Hold Their Position for the USEF Team Selection


In second place, again, was Guenter Seidel, of Cardiff, CA, and Aragon, the 14-year-old Bavarian Warmblood gelding, owned by Richard and Jane Brown. The pair scored an enviable 73.32% today.

“He just got a little distracted, and then he lost the rhythm. It was kind of a bad start I think. He was a little behind the leg in a few places, but overall it was fine. He was relaxed, he was obedient. He was pretty regular in the other work so yeah, I was happy with that.”


Grand Prix Special Proves Depth of the Future American Dressage Team for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games - Aachen

Leslie Morse and Tip Top Show The Right Stuff


Leslie Morse, of Beverly Hills, CA, and her 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood stallion, Tip Top 962, had another strong third place finish despite a few small errors, with a score of 72.0%. “I think that was a rider error. I had such beautiful two tempis that I came in on such a big buoyant beautiful flowing stride that I thought I could just kind of keep that into the one tempis, and I think that’s where it helps to have more experience with your horse. This is definitely a time that I gained experience.”

“Once that little bobble happened I felt that he felt kind of like oh, I made a mistake and I didn’t want to make a mistake and then we lost a little bit of our momentum.”

Just like with Jan Ebeling’s lost rein across the diagonal yesterday, Morse and Tip Top supplied a moment of comic relief during their test. Just before completing the test, Tip Top came down the center line and sneezed himself out of his piaffe before he had completed the move, looking confused as to what had happened.

“It just shows he’s a horse and he has personality, and at the end of the test he still has a lot of gumption. It did really amuse me, he was still right there, and he was really happy to be in that arena and for him to be able to do that at the end of the test shows that he was really happy to be there and that’s what you want in a young grand prix horse.”

Despite entering the arena to a screaming crowd when Peters’ scores went up on the board, Morse said she like riding right after Peters. She said it was like playing tennis with a really good tennis player, it makes you rise to the occasion.

Morse who has travelled to Europe with her horses perhaps more time than any team member, three times in in the past year, expressed her appreciation for the USEF and all they are doing in support of the American team. "


Rebecca Hart Wins USEF National Para-Equestrian Championship


Three was the magic number today at the USET Foundation Dressage Festival of Champions. Rebecca Hart won the USEF National Para-Equestrian Championship after she pulled off a hat-trick, winning all three classes three days in a row. Then, in the USEF Grand Prix Special, it was déjà vu with the top three riders in the same placings as Thursday, when they performed their Grand Prix. The third class that makes up the 2006 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Grand Prix Championship will be the Freestyle, held tomorrow afternoon.

Rebecca Hart and Nordkap, for the third day in a row took home the top prize as well as the 2006 USEF National Para-Equestrian Championship title. Hart, of Erie, PA, performed her freestyle to music from Phantom of the Opera. Nordkap is a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Hart. Their score today was 78.518% with a Championship score of 73.74%. Hart and Nordkap’s performance earned them the Margo O’Callaghan Memorial Trophy. Reserve champion was Barbara Grassmyer of Placerville, CA with a three-day score of 70.382% and an impressive score today of 75.923%. Her mount was Bally Shannon, one of two horses in the competition donated and on loan from therapy programs.

Freestyle is a favorite for this pair. “He likes his music, He gets a little bored with the IPEC test because it’s just straight lines and circles and straight lines. It is easier to keep his attention and his focus when he does his shoulder-ins to get him rebalanced…I was so proud of him, he’s such a cool horse, he’s such fun, he’s so honest. He’s just awesome.”

Hart agrees that the discipline of para-equestrian being added to the 2010 FEI Games is a huge win for the sport, but right now she’s got other things on her mind. “We’re definitely trying for Beijing, and I think we’re on the right road. I’d really like to do the able-bodied in twenty years or so but that is a ways down the road.”


Elisabeth Austin and Olivier Win Inaugural Brentina Cup at Gladstone

Elisabeth Austin, 22, of Williston, Vermont, is the first winner of the Brentina Cup, an award launched this year at the USET Foundation Dressage Festival of Champions presented by Paul Miller, Inc. Austin topped a class of six entries aboard Olivier, a 10-year-old brown Dutch warmblood stallion (Idocus x Rowillie), earning a score of 70.390% in the FEI Intermediaire II. Olivier was bred and is currently owned by the winner’s mother, Madeleine Dammers Austin.

Bethany Peslar, 24, of Wellington, Florida, riding More Magic (Maraschino x Radetta) owned by Everglades Dressage, LLC, claimed second with a score of 69.171%. Lauren Sprieser, 21, of Oak Brook, Illinois, riding her own Bellinger placed third, earning 64.927%.

Debbie McDonald, who rode Brentina to a 2004 Olympic Team Bronze Medal, 2003 World Cup Championship, and 2002 Team Silver Medal at the World Equestrian Games, made the award presentation to Austin.

The purpose of the USEF Brentina Cup Championship Program is to assist and encourage U.S. Young Riders aged 18-26 in making the transition to Senior Grand Prix competitor. The eight horse/rider combinations with the highest overall average scores according to USEF rankings from qualifying competitions held nationally January through June 2006 were invited to Gladstone to compete.


“I’m so excited, I’m so proud to be a part of it,” Austin said of the program. “Brentina and Debbie have done so much for this sport in this country and certainly around the world. They make it fun, so I think to be part of that and to represent that is really, really important.”

Austin noted that for her, one of the most important parts of the program is that the riders did not have to qualify through CDIs. “For me, that made it financially possible,” Austin explained, who qualified through local shows. Austin also pointed out that for horses that are 9,10, and 11 years old, “it’s the perfect stepping stone” to Grand Prix.

Austin has literally known her winning mount all his life. “I was there when he was born and I remember when he came out my mom said ‘oh, look he has expensive markings!’ He has four white feet,” she explained. Olivier, known as “Fizzy,” has only competed at nine horse shows, and the Brentina Cup is only his third recognized FEI competition. Because she has been exhibiting another stallion, Austin explained that financially she couldn’t show both simultaneously. “I didn’t feel we needed to campaign him a lot. He’s very happy in his job. He loves to show, but for me I don’t think it’s important to show a lot. I really like training,” Austin said, and added that her horses like that schedule as well. “They love it – they’re excited to be away from home.”


Prior to the Brentina Cup qualifiers, the talented stallion’s show records included competing at Third and Fourth Level, and one Prix St. Georges at Lendon Gray’s Youth Dressage Festival (unrecognized competition). Austin and her mother have done all the training, and one season he accompanied 2003 Pan American Team member Pierre St. Jacques to Florida. Olivier is also a breeding stallion. “I’m so proud of him. He’s just a wonderful horse,” Austin enthused, acknowledging that the stallion earns his way through his breeding fees. In today’s ride, Austin described Olivier’s piaffe and passage as “amazing,” especially coming down the centerline where he got “better and hotter in a really nice way. He loves to show and he loves to show off. It’s so easy.”

Austin, a student at the University of Vermont, took time off to compete in Florida this year and to work as an assistant trainer for Lendon Gray at Gleneden Dressage in Bedford, New York. She plans to return to college in the fall.


Bethany Peslar and More Magic Make US Debut at the Inaugural Brentina Cup at Gladstone


Bethany Peslar, who placed second, is also enthusiastic about the USEF Brentina Cup Championship Program. “As soon as I heard about the program I was really excited about the opportunity to do it,” she said. “It’s a great stepping stone for young riders moving up into Grand Prix against people in their own age group at that level before jumping into professional Grand Prix.”

Peslar is based in Pennsylvania for the summer and is in training with Robert Dover at his New Jersey stable. She is a professional rider concentrating on her show career and training her own horses. More Magic is a 14-year-old bay Westphalian gelding imported from Germany that Peslar has owned since April 2006. Christine Traurig previously showed him in Europe in the Grand Prix.

“I’m still getting to know him but I feel like we are becoming a combination now,” Peslar said, and acknowledged that she believes the horse could make a U.S. team. “Our next step is to do the Grand Prix and try to qualify for Devon and see where we go,” Peslar said.


Inaugural Brentina Cup at Gladstone

Lauren Spreiser and Bellinger Move Up From Young Rider Ranks


Lauren Sprieser, the third placed rider, was also enthusiastic about the USEF Brentina Cup Championship Program. “The goal of program was obviously to take Young Riders out of Young Riders and gear them up for the Grand Prix program,” she pointed out. “It’s pretty exciting to be getting in on the ground floor and the first generation to go through it.”

Sprieser is a professional rider who graduated from Sarah Lawrence University this year with a degree in public policy and urban planning. She is based in Wauconda, Illinois, and trains with Ken McGrath. Her mount, Bellinger, a 14-year-old bay Trakehner gelding is known as “Billy” and is a special horse for Sprieser who bought him at a sales barn in Germany in January 2003. They are in their fourth season together. “He came to me about 300 pounds underweight and terrified of everything,” Sprieser said, “but when the going gets tough, he listens to me. I will never sell him. He’s a little difficult and has been passed around a lot. He doesn’t trust people right away but has the most tremendous heart. He would do anything for me and it would be wildly unfair for me not to give everything to him.” The challenge for Sprieser is to adjust to her horse every ride, as she explained, “He’s a funny horse because no matter what horse I have in the warm-up, he’s going to be completely different when I come down centerline. So it’s just a matter of riding the horse I have in the ring.”

PMG Info Press release by Mary Hilton




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