Peters Scores 80.825% in Grand Prix Freestyle at Mid-Winter Dressage CDI-W To Move to Top of NAL World Cup Rankings

Written by Yellow Horse Marketing (Jennifer M. Keeler) for California Dreaming Productions - In Dressage - Monday, February 23, 2015

Steffen Peters & Legolas 92 accept congratulations from the ground jury for their big win in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the Mid-Winter Dressage CDI-W. Photo by Terri Miller

The much-anticipated inaugural West Coast qualifying competition for this year's Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final came to a resounding conclusion on the final day of California Dreaming Productions' Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W/Y/J/U-25 in Burbank as U.S. Dressage Team veterans Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 earned an impressive score of 80.825% for their popular U-2 themed Grand Prix Freestyle. This remarkable score is not only a personal best for the pair, but it also firmly cements them as favorites to lead the American contingent to Las Vegas. Finishing in second was Peters' 2012 Olympic team mate Jan Ebeling aboard Vantage Equestrian Group LLC's impressive Hanoverian stallion FRH Rassolini (Rubioso N x Sweetheart by Silvano) with 75.050%.

"We had an exciting ride today and I'm so pleased," said Peters, who explained that he specifically asked announcer Brian O'Connor to raise the volume in the Equidome, which almost created a problem mid-test. "When we did the sound check, I didn't want to take it easy because that's not going to be the reality in Las Vegas. So the music was definitely louder, and at the end of the arena just before the one tempi's, Legolas reacted to it. But even though we had that bobble, he recovered and still did the line of one's, and I'm particularly happy about that. This is his fifth test in a row where he hasn't made a mistake in the changes, and that's huge improvement for him."

In both the CDI Grand Prix and the Freestyle, Peters and Four Winds Farm's Westfalen gelding (Laomedon x Fuerstin by Florestan II) enjoyed a record-setting homecoming to California this weekend. Having gained fresh confidence in looking towards the World Cup in April, their big score in the freestyle rockets them to the top of the North American League standings. In addition, Peters hinted that a surprise may be in store for the World Cup audience. "We have one more qualifier in a few weeks in San Juan Capistrano, and then it looks pretty good for Las Vegas," he said. "In general we're sticking with our freestyle, but there's a 'super secret second version' that we've never used because we were waiting for the right venue for it, and I think Vegas is it. We use the same music but a bit different choreography, and it has a good sense of humor to it and is very exciting. And that's all I'm willing to give away right now," he laughed.

Heidemann Wins I-1 Freestyle in CDI Debut

Garyn Heidemann & French Kiss won the Intermediaire I Freestyle at Mid-Winter Dressage CDI. Photo by Terri Miller

Watching the Intermediaire Freestyle, one would never suspect that this was the very first CDI experience for Washington State natives Garyn Heidemann and Sigrid Wolff's Westfalen gelding French Kiss (Florestan I x Fabel by Fruhling). Their three-day journey to Burbank paid off as the the pair's dramatic yet harmonious performance featuring music from "The Dark Knight Rises" earned them their first international and unanimous victory under all five FEI judges with a final score of 68.325% over Canada's Roanne Tyson and Seiltanz (Sunny Boy x Valderia by Royal Dance) with 66.325%. "Up until this point I've only competed locally in Region 6, but we ended last season really well with regional and Northwest championships for both Intermediaire I and the freestyle, so I decided it was time to step it up and ride in a bigger pond," explained Heidemann. "French Kiss and I have only been together since last May when his owner offered me the ride in order for me to gain experience in the international arena, and I'm so grateful to her. He can be complicated because he's so intelligent and a little bit cocky, but he loves to show off and we feel like he's finally coming into who he is. It's a learning process, and I was very happy with him this weekend.

"This has been a wonderful experience coming here in California," Heidemann continued. "The show was so well organized and the quality of horses down here is amazing. It was a big eye-opening experience. Now that we've done this and I realize what we need to do to have further success, we're going to go home and train and then look to returning next year even better."

Lopez Earns Hard-Fought Victory in CDI Under-25 Grand Prix

In the CDI Under-25 division, four incredibly talented young adult riders returned to the Equidome to contest the challenging Grand Prix 16-25 Test, with all of the final placings separated by a total of just over a single point. Ultimately emerging victorious was California's own Ari Lopez aboard her Rheinlander gelding Corlander II (Cordino x Riante by Ravallo) with a score of 67.636% over Canada's Monica Houweling and Rifradin (Dutch Warmblood mare [Gribaldi x Atradin by Formateur] owned by Linda Houweling) with 66.977%. Ari Lopez & Corlander II topped a tough field in the Grand Prix 16-25 Test at Mid-Winter Dressage CDI. Photo by Terri Miller

Finding success at the Grand Prix level is especially sweet for Lopez, who has risen through the dressage levels with her mount after they decided to make a career change from eventing eight years ago. They went on to compete at both the FEI Junior and Young Rider levels, earning an individual silver medal in 2008 and placing in the top five at the Festival of Champions before stepping up to the increasingly popular Under-25 division.

"He's the kind of horse who tries really hard and has talent, and even though he's not as naturally gifted in the gaits department as some other horses, he makes up for it with his work ethic. And surprisingly the Grand Prix work came relatively easy to him," said Lopez. "I'm so lucky and thankful to have this horse. Since this year is my last year before aging out of this division, my goal is to try to qualify for a spot to go to Europe and possibly go to the Festival of Champions."

Complete results from Mid-Winter Dressage are available on the California Dreaming Productions website, http://www.californiadreamingproductions.com. The next competitions will be the Capistrano Dressage International CDI-W/Y/J/U-25 on March 20 - 22 and the Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25 on March 26 - 28, both to be held at the beautiful Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

About California Dreaming Productions

Formed by a partnership between long-time show organizer Glenda McElroy of Burbank, CA and Grand Prix riders and trainers David and Alisa Wilson of Chino Hills, CA, the goal of California Dreaming Productions (CDP) is to bring a fresh face to international-level dressage competition on the West Coast.

For more information about CDP shows and events, visit our website www.californiadreamingproductions.com or contact Glenda McElroy, glenda@cdpequestrian.com, or David and Alisa Wilson, david@cdpequestrian.com and alisa@cdpequestrian.com.