Shelly Francis, Betsy Steiner and Lars Petersen: Sommer Stars Shine Bright All Season

Friday, December 13, 2013
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Lars Petersen and Marriett at the 2013 Dressage at Devon CDI. (Photo: SusanJStickle.com)
Lars Petersen and Marriett at the 2013 Dressage at Devon CDI. (Photo: SusanJStickle.com)

Wellington, FL (November 30 2013) - Sommer, known as the 'saddle for life,' enlivened some of the best dressage arenas in the world, as they are the saddle of choice for international Grand Prix stars Shelly Francis, Betsy Steiner and Lars Petersen. 2013 proved to be a banner year for Shelly Francis of Loxahatchee, FL, who in the past represented her country on an international squad was the 1998 World Equestrian Games. Rising to the top of the 2013 Tim Dutta National Rankings with two Pat Stempel horses – nine year-old Hanoverian gelding Danilo and 10 year-old Oldenburg gelding, Doktor – Francis qualified Doktor for the World Cup Final in Sweden. For these last five years, Francis and her horses have trained and competed in Sommer saddles: “I love these saddles. They're really comfortable for me and the horses. There's no pressure on either side of the spine. The horses feel freer moving and I don't have sore backs.”{C}{C}It's not every day that a saddle is named after a rider, but as Lars Petersen demonstrated at Dressage at Devon 2013, he's not just any rider. The former Danish Olympian now based at Legacy Farms in Loxahatchee, delivered an impressive win in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle on September 29, returning to the arena with Mariett. The bay Danish-bred (Come Back II x Zendi) mare had been sidelined in recovery from a serious hoof injury and now, back in the hands of Petersen, earned a decisive 76.975% from judges at Dressage at Devon. The Lars, the Sommer’s exclusive FlextraEQ Dressage Saddle designed for and used by Petersen, features a mono-flap design for closer contact with the horse, no thigh block, and special flaps that mold to the rider's legs.
And when it comes to understanding the importance of comfort to performance, no one makes it a bigger priority than USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist, World Equestrian Games veteran, and author, Betsy Steiner.
The Wellington, Florida founder of the EQUILATES cross-training program and author of A Gymnastic Training System Using the Mind, Body, Spirit Approach, followed the advice of friend and Sommer master saddler Marty Haist of Horse of Course, to try a Spezial on her Lusitano stallion, Conego.
“Connie has been a much happier horse and much freer in the shoulders,” said Steiner. “I love everything about these saddles, from their lightness to, most of all, their comfort. It puts you in a place where you feel like you're riding the horse, not riding the saddle. You hardly notice it's there.”
What isn't hard to notice is how well the season has been going for horses and riders who use Sommers saddles.
The Horse of Course carries an extensive selection of Sommer saddles, including the FlextraEQ Savoy, Lars Flextra and Spezial dressage, and is a proud supporter of its dressage community, both sponsoring classes and traveling cross-country with a convenient mobile store to bring stylish clothing, accessories, saddles and products directly to shows and riders.

To learn more about The Horse of Course and its 2014 calendar of events, visit their website at www.thehorseofcourse.com.