Steffen Peters & Ravel Win World Dressage Masters Palm Beach Grand Prix With Personal Best

Steffen Peters and Ravel finishing the World Dressage Masters Grand Prix. © 2012 Ken Braddick/


WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Jan. 27–Steffen Peters and Ravel won the Word Dressage Masters Grand Prix with a personal best score of 81.468 per cent, beating his previous best at the same event a year ago.

In a fault-free test, the California rider and the 14-year-old KWPN gelding beat the new star British combination of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro who were second on 78.468 per cent with Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén and Favourit third on 73.149 per cent and Adrienne Lyle of Ketchm, Idaho, and Wizard in fourth place on 72.149 per cent.

All five of the judges at the event that was designated a CDI4* instead of its original rating of a CDI5* because some enntrants did not have qualifying scores, gave Steffen marks above 80 per cent.

About 1,000 spectators watched the event that is in its fourth year in South Florida.

Steffen, of San Diego, California, said that Ravel feels stronger than a year ago, more supple and easy in the bridle.

With the Olympics ahead of the pair this year, he said that Ravel is “getting consistently better and it is silly to push for more. Our job is to maintain what we have. I’m confident we have the team to take care of this and maintain exactly what we have.”

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. © 2012 Ken Braddick/

Charlotte said that Valegro got into the arena and was , “Wow! He was keen to go.” A poor entry was expensive and the pirouettes and zigzag was “not so good, either.”

“But he did some really amazing things.” she said. “He’s young still so I have to forgive him.”

She said that they plan to compete at the CDI5* in Munich, Germany, May 17-20.

A happy Adrienne Lyle after her ride on Wizard. © 2012 Ken Braddick/

Adrienne Lyle said she wondered how Wizard would behave in the arena with spectator stands all around and full of spectators, more like a European indoor show.

But he was well behaved and turned in his second best performance at the Grand Prix, and in front of Parry Thomas, now 90 years old, whose wife Peggy, owns the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding. The Thomases own Brentina ridden by Debbie McDonald who now coaches Adrienne.

“Maybe he’s growing up,” Adrienne said.

Tinne, the Swedish multi Olympian who is spending her second winter in Florida, had not ridden Favourit since the European Championships last August and wanted to see how he would perform. The horse appeared more confident as the ride went on and she said she was very happy ahead of Saturday’s Freestyle when she will debut her new music from Cees Slings.

Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén and Favourit. © 2012 Ken Braddick/


1. Steffen Peters (USA) – Ravel – 81.383%
2. Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) – Valegro – 78.468%
3. Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfven (SWE) – Favourit – 73.255%
4. Adrienne Lyle (USA) – Wizard – 72.149%
5. Anja Plönzke (GER) – Le Mont d’Or – 71.404%
T5. Ashley Holzer (CAN) – Pop Art – 71.404%
7. Heather Blitz (USA) – Paragon – 71.000%
8. Carl Hester (GBR) – Wie Atlantico – 69.979%
9. Todd Flettrich (USA) – Otto – 69.638%
10. Tina Konyot (USA) – Calecto V – 68.447%
11. Minna Telde (SWE) – Deinhardt – 66.787%
12. Pierre St. Jacques (USA) – Lucky Tiger – 66.021%
13. Per Sandgaard (SWE) – Lomumba Havdal – 65.894%
14. James Koford (USA) – Pharoah – 64.809%
15. Yvonne Losos de Muñiz (DOM) – Liebling II – 62.255%
16. Victoria Winter (CAN) – Proton – 60.426%

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ISES Releases Statement on Noseband Tightness

To ensure fairness and safeguard horse welfare, noseband tightness should be officially evaluated prior to equestrian competitions, according to the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES).

In its position statement released yesterday (Jan. 30), the ISES announced that the traditional “two finger rule” should be applied with nosebands in competitions. This rule requires that at least two average-sized adult fingers be able to fit easily between the noseband and the horse’s nasal midline. To verify compliance, show stewards should officially measure the noseband tightness with a taper gauge, the statement indicated.

“The gauge should be placed without force and be clearly marked to show the desired stop which, in alignment with established industry guidance, should be the dimensions of two average adult fingers,” the statement read. “Riders should be advised and encouraged to use the same gauge in practice.”

Noseband tightness directly affects rein tension, suggesting that it increases sensitivity to the bit, according to Hayley Randle, PhD, researcher in the equitation science department at Duchy College in Cornwall, U.K. “Careful consideration needs to be given to the fitting of nosebands and in particular riders’ use of noseband tightness as a means to achieve a required outcome in equitation,” she said during her presentation at the 2011 ISES Conference, held Oct. 26-29 in Hooge Mierde, The Netherlands.

Tight nosebands could mask “problem behavior, bad training, and/or pain caused by the bit,” today’s ISES statement added. Without nosebands, some horses might display undesired behavior in the show ring such as opening, gaping, and crossing the jaw, resulting in penalties under current dressage rules, according to an associated ISES press release. “The practice of over-tightening nosebands to avoid penalties in competition is covering up poor training at the expense of horse welfare,” the release read.

The revised edition of Olympic Equestrian highlights and chronicles the most celebrated equestrian athletes in the sport where men and women compete on a level playing field.

Dressage rules are designed to “promote excellent training and the demonstration of qualities such as freedom, harmony, lightness, and acceptance of the bit without tension,” the release continued. “Thus, nosebands may hinder effective judging.”

The new recommendation does not propose consequences of using over-tight nosebands at this time.

The full statement, including references to supporting research, is available online.

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Rising British star Charlotte Dujardin and the stylish Valegro came within a whisker of beating Steffen Peters and Ravel

Steffen and Ravel defend title, but only just


January 30, 2012


Rising British star Charlotte Dujardin and the stylish Valegro came within a whisker of beating Steffen Peters and Ravel for the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach freestyle title on Saturday night.


WDM Palm Beach Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle winners Steffen Peters and Ravel.

Dujardin, Peters and Vilhelmson-Silfvén on the podium. © Sue Stickle and Marie Cobb for Phelps Media Group

The American rider successfully defended his title, but it wasn’t an easy victory as Dujardin and Valegro came within five one hundredths of a percentage point of toppling Peters from the center of the podium.

“I had a great night with Ravel, but I watched Charlotte after our ride,” said Peters after the awards ceremony.

“When she came out of the ring I went over and said to her, ‘I think you’ve won it.’ It is exciting to be that close to another of the world’s top horses and riders,” Peters said.

“I felt like I was a team in the play-off who kicked a field goal with one second left,” said Peters after the scores were verified.

Peters and Akiko Yamazaki’s 14-year-old KWPN gelding had received a score of 83.7%, which kept them ahead of Dujardin and Valegro, a ten-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Carl Hester and Roly Luard, by the tiniest of margins; the British pair received 83.65% for their performance.

Peters and Ravel’s dramatic freestyle was very difficult and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

“What an amazing ride,” said Peters. “Thanks again to my buddy Ravel.”

Ravel’s incredibly difficult transitions, including from canter pirouette to piaffe to walk, were seamless. His half-pass has amazing reach at both the trot and the canter and the one- time changes on the centerline were effortless. The all-around brilliance gave this pair the edge – making them back-to-back World Dressage Masters Palm Beach Champions.

“It was the ride of my lifetime, I’ve never done a better freestyle,” said Peters. “He felt absolutely amazing – if we can just keep this for the next seven months [for the Olympic Games].”

Music from Avatar proved incredibly powerful and Ravel was full of confidence, from one difficult movement to the next.

“It was great,” said Peters. “It felt wonderful. Ravel was even more powerful than last night – but relaxed in between for the walk tour.”

Dujardin rode confidently – after a slight bobble in the first centerline, she never gave up and got every conceivable point out of her Dutch gelding.

“I had a great ride,” said Dujardin. “He dealt with the atmosphere really well, today I felt like he was much more with me. Yesterday Valegro was a little bit too hot and I was hanging on for dear life.

“I felt like I had a bit more control today.”

A perennial competitor on the Florida scene, Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén of Sweden put in a dynamic effort with Antonia Ax:son Johnson’s 13-year-old Rheinlander gelding Favourit, for 78.250% and third place.

Wim Ernes was the judge at C and he was pleased with the level of the contest. To him, Ravel’s level of difficulty was what gave him the edge. And the win.

“They went to the limit,” said Ernes. “That’s real sport.”


John Goodman of IPC Palm Beach and Antonia Ax:son Johnson of Axel Johnson Group. © Sue Stickle and Marie Cobb

The FEI ground jury consisted of Stephen Clarke (GBR), Wim Ernes (NED), Isabelle Judet (FRA), Gary Rockwell (USA) and Lois Yukins (USA).

Close to 2000 people filled the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center to capacity to watch some of the world’s best dressage horses and riders perform their Grand Prix Freestyles to music. Spectators were treated to a half time laser light show from GoodWray Productions, which also provided an unprecedented level of High Definition live stream coverage which was viewed by thousands of people around the world.

Saturday night’s completely sold out evening was an unqualified success by all accounts. “This is the place in the world where it happens,” said Antonia Ax:son Johnson of Axel Johnson Group, presenting sponsor of the World Dressage Masters, which is the richest and most prestigious dressage series in the world.

“We brought nine horses to Florida last year, and we found it’s the most wonderful place for horses and riders. We now have a farm of our own here and are residents in Wellington.”

The WDM Palm Beach would not have been possible for the past two years without the support of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, which became the presenting sponsor in 2011 of the only WDM event outside Europe.

“It was such a great night tonight,” said IPC Palm Beach founder John Goodman. “I think everyone from polo and the other disciplines learned a lot tonight. I’m just honored to be a part of it.”


Results – WDM Palm Beach Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Steffen Peters (USA) Ravel – 83.700%
2. Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) Valegro – 83.650%
3. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén (SWE) Favourit – 78.250%
4. Carl Hester (GBR) Wie Atlantico – 74.850%
5. Anja Plönzke (GER) Le Mont d’Or – 74.800%
6. Tina Konyot (USA) Calecto V – 73.025%
7. Ashley Holzer (CAN) Breaking Dawn – 71.325%
8. Minna Telde (SWE) Deinhardt – 71.000%
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Record score for Steffen and Ravel

January 29, 2012


Steffen Peters and Ravel broke a competition record with their Grand Prix test score of 81.383% at the World Dressage Masters in Palm Beach on Friday.


Nürnberger Grand Prix winners Steffen Peters and Ravel.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro

Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Favourit. © Susan Stickle for Phelps Media Group

Not only is that a personal best result in a CDI Grand Prix for Peters and Akiko Yamazaki’s 14 year old KWPN gelding, it is also the highest score ever attained in a WDM Palm Beach Grand Prix.

“I started to have the feeling I got from Ravel tonight in the last couple of weeks,” said Peters after his decisive victory over the international field of 16 competitors.

“I had this feeling at a show two weeks ago in California, but I had to risk it a bit more here. Ravel feels even stronger than last year and more supple. It was a blast to ride.”

Finishing in second place behind Peters was Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding co-owned by Carl Hester and Roly Luard. Dujardin’s score of 78.468% was nearly three points behind Peters, but it was a full five percentage points higher than the third placed pair, Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven of Sweden on the 13 year old Rheinlander gelding Favourit, with a score of 73.255%.

The WDM Palm Beach is Dujardin’s North American debut. For Peters and Vilhelmson-Silfven, their placings in the Grand Prix are identical to the 2011 WDM Palm Beach on the same horses, though the scores are higher than a year ago.

In fourth place was Idaho-based US rider Adrienne Lyle riding Wizard, a 13 year old Oldenburg gelding.

Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer finished in fifth place on Breaking Dawn, the flashy bay 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sired by Akribori and co-owned by Holzer and P.J. Rizvi.

Scoring 71.404%, Holzer was tied for fifth with Anja Plönzke of Germany riding Le Mont d’Or, but Holzer and Breaking Dawn’s higher collective scores were used to break the tie and secured the pair the fifth place finish.

Breaking Dawn moved up to Grand Prix in the fall of 2011, and Holzer is thrilled with the horse’s aptitude for the sport. “I am just over the moon about Breaking Dawn’s test,” Holzer said. “He went in there and almost seemed to relax when he saw the crowd was cheering for him. It was an even better test than last week.


Ashley Holzer and Breaking Dawn were fifth.
© Susan Stickle

“I think we had so many good horses in this class,” said FEI five star dressage judge Gary Rockwell, president of the ground jury.

The 2012 WDM Palm Beach Grand Prix has also set records for spectators, with well over a thousand people in the stands and at ringside VIP tables on Friday afternoon. For the first time ever, USEF Network live streamed the entire competition in High Definition not only for the web, but also for smart phones. People from all over the world – from Canada to Germany to Japan – logged in on computers and mobile devices to watch the event.

“I was really pleased with the number of spectators who came today,” said Noreen O’Sullivan of Wellington Classic Dressage, which is the Official Show Producer of the WDM Palm Beach.

“It’s a wonderful statement about the state of our sport.”

The World Dressage Masters presented by Axel Johnson Group is the most prestigious dressage series in the world, and with €400,000 in prize money awarded at 2011 WDM events, also the richest. The field at the 2012 WDM Palm Beach represents some of the world’s top ranked and most successful horses and riders.


Results WDM Palm Beach Nürnberger Grand Prix
1. Steffen Peters (USA) Ravel – 81.383%
2. Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) Valegro – 78.468%
3. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) Favourit – 73.255%
4. Adrienne Lyle (USA) Wizard – 72.149%
5. Ashley Holzer (CAN) Breaking Dawn – 71.404%
6. Anja Plönzke (GER) Le Mont D’Or – 71.404%
7. Heather Blitz (USA) Paragon – 71.000%
8. Carl Hester (GBR) Wie Atlantico De Ymas – 69.979%
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Barcida Interagro

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Heather Bender riding Barcida Interagro 

(photo courtesy of Marilyn Fallon)

Barcida Interagro Rides Away with Top Honors at GCDA


Barcida Interagro, a beautiful five-year-old grey Lusitano stallion owned by Cindy Barrera and ridden by Heather Bender, won the Lusitano High Score of the Year Award during the Gold Coast Dressage Association year-end banquet and also rode away with the USEF High Score of the Year for all breeds. Barcida’s score of 77.200% helped the stallion clinch the prestigious titles.



Barcida was imported from Interagro and purchased in the February 2010 Lusitano Collection auction. “Barcida has been in consistent training with me since his arrival in the United States,” said Heather, an FEI rider and trainer. “Barcida is an extremely talented, healthy and valuable stallion that has everything most competitive riders look for. His show record is off to an amazing start and he has received 9’s for his walk and 8’s for the canter! He is an extremely trainable stallion with a super temperament and is currently schooling Third Level and doing a single flying change.”


Barcida Interagro’s famous sire is Quixote, and he is out of the mare Kidnapped (Andrade/Veiga), a rare and successful combination not often found in the United States. Interagro Lusitanos sponsored the year-end Lusitano High Score Award at the GCDA, and Cecilia Gonzaga was thrilled to hear that one of Interagro’s own horses won the award. “We are always pleased to recognize the outstanding achievements of a Lusitano but when I found out that the winner was Barcida, a beautiful stallion that we bred, I was thrilled,” Cecilia said. “Barcida has extraordinary bloodlines and his attitude and athleticism are a testament to the amazing abilities of the Lusitano breed.”


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Courtesy of the Lusitano Collection



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Record interest in hosting 2018 World Equestrian Games


By Duncan Mackay

Kevin Staut_at_WEG_Kentucky_October_2010November 17 – A record eight countries have put themselves forward to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games, it has been announced.

Australia, Austria, Canada, Hungary, Morocco, Russia, Sweden and the United States all submitted official expressions of interest by the time the deadline set by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) expired at midnight on Tuesday (November 15). 

“It also shows the value of the review that the FEI has commissioned of the bidding process for the FEI World Equestrian Games and FEI European Championships, which is aimed at raising the profile of these events and their associated revenues by creating a competitive, well structured and transparent bid process,” said Ingmar de Vos, the secretary general of the FEI.

The event includes eight of the FEI’s ten disciplines: combined driving, dressage, endurance riding, eventing, paraequestrianism, reining, show jumping, and vaulting.

A decision will be announced after the FEI Spring Bureau meeting in early 2013 as the third and final phase in the new bidding process that the FEI has put in place for the FEI World Equestrian Games and FEI European Championships.

Under the new process, the key deadlines can be broken down into three phases, the applicant phase, the candidate phase and the decision phase.

The first phase has already begun with deadline for receipt of expressions of interest.

This phase will continue with guide and applicant questionnaire, which will be sent to applicants in March 2012.

The candidate phase is due to begin on April  30, 2012, with the deadline for receipt of the applicant questionnaire.

An FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 presentation will be made to candidates at FEI headquarters in Lausanne in June 2012, when legal cocumentation will also be given to candidates.

Completed document, including a signed host agreement, must be submitted to the FEI by December 15, 2012.

Candidates will formally present their bids to the FEI in February 2013, prior to the official announcement of the host organisers after the Spring Bureau meeting in 2013.

The Games were first held in Stockholm in 1990 and have since been held in The Hague in 1994, Rome in 1998, Jerez in 2002, Aachen in 2006 and last year in Lexington in Kentucky, the first time the event has been held outside Europe and where competitors from 58 countries took part.

The 2014 Games are due to be held in Normandy in France.

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