West Coast Riders Unveil Olympic Hopefuls at Cornerstone Events L.A. Winter Dressage 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Posted by Contractor

L.A. Winter Dressage Serves as Test Run for Olympic Hopefuls Steffen Peters and Debbie McDonald

For Steffen Peters and Debbie McDonald, this past weekend’s L.A. Winter Dressage gave them a test run with relatively new mounts before the start of the West Coast’s Olympic Qualifying competitions. And McDonald said she was more than pleased with Felix. The Hanoverian is by Fabriano and is owned by Peggy Thomas.

McDonald and Felix had a clean Grand Prix test with only a slight bobble after the first canter pirouette. “He has really matured. Last year I showed him in a few I-2 classes, and he was green in them. The trip to Europe during the fall and the two months of concentrated daily work with Klaus was so valuable,” McDonald said.

At this point, she said she plans to keep the average of 67.80 percent that she and Felix earned in the European CDIs. Under the new CDI rules, a rider can let management know whether a score will count toward his or her average up to 24 hours in advance of the jog. McDonald said that she will compete at some of the CDIs but wants the option of showing in the open division at some of the shows. “My goal for Felix is to keep trying to get it more solid. I hadn’t really planned to put him in the Grand Prix CDI arena so soon, but Klaus felt it would be good for him. Now that I have shown here, I totally agree. He felt so much more mature.”

Two years ago, McDonald was “on the fence” about Felix. But as he has matured mentally, she has become more confident about his potential. When asked if she will do the Selection Trials, she stated, “I would love to do the trials with him. It is a tough call if he will be ready to be a team horse by June. I know he will take more time, and I don’t want to hurry with him.”

McDonald said that Brentina should also be back in the Olympic running. The mare has recuperated from an accident in transport to Germany and is back to work. Brentina must compete in two CDIs to qualify for the Selection Trials, which she will probably do in April.

Peters competed in Grand Prix competitions both Saturday and Sunday with the 17.1-hand Prince by Hemingway. The horse is owned by and was trained by Willie Arts. “Prince’s strength is in his piaffe which Willie taught him. He also has very uphill trot extensions. All his trot work is strong. His short coupled build makes him very elegant,” Peters said.

In addition to his second-place showing in Saturday’s Grand Prix Open, Peters and Prince competed in Sunday’s Grand Prix Special earning a score of 70.20 percent and some 9s for their piaffe work. They were the only competitors in the class. Sunday downpours sent many riders running for cover and home. Peters said that he plans to compete through the Selection Trials with three horses – Prince and Kiko Yamasaki’s two horses, Ravel and Lombardi II.

Peters is coming to Wellington and will be busy over the weekend of March 7-9. At the Challenge of the Americas at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Saturday, March 8 Steffen Peters will ride an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding named Wholio, owned by Vivian Picheny of New York who is sponsoring Elizabeth Niemi in a quest to represent the United States at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky. in 2010.

Peters was scheduled to be in Wellington for the Junior/Young Rider Clinic that has been staged for the past five years by Cetty Weiss to enlist some of the world's top dressage trainers to teach junior and young riders.