Calm, almost serene, usually describes Steffen Peters' demeanor, but he couldn't help showing some strong emotion as he racked up one unbelievable score after another in the Collecting Gaits Farm/U.S. Equestrian Federation Grand Prix Championship and World Equestrian Games selection trials, June 14-18 in Gladstone, N.J.
Riding Laurelyn Browning's Floriano, Peters swept all three Grand Prix classes, finishing on an outstand-ing 83.25 percent in the freestyle and a final average of 77.20 percent for the three days.
Wet weather and muddy conditions couldn't keep a determined Jan Byyny from riding two gritty cross-country rounds and propelling herself into first place aboard Task Force and second place with Waterfront in the Jersey Fresh CCI***, May 31-June 4, Allentown, N.J.
Byyny had planned to ride Task Force, a 14-year-old, Australian Thoroughbred (Blue Vein--Chicola Craft), at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** five weeks earlier, but a schooling accident prevented them from going.
Despite constant rain and cold temperatures, Cesar Parra and Horses Unlimited's Galant du Serein showed a strong performance in the CDI Cincinnati at Paxton Farm to win the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix freestyle on May 12-14 in Batavia, Ohio.
"The weather was awful. It was raining every single minute," said Parra. "But the footing stayed good, and I was so impressed at how helpful everyone was. The Paxton family took care of every single detail. They tried to really make it the best for us."
The temperature heated up and so did the competition on June 18 in the Collecting Gaits Farm/U.S. Equestrian Federation Grand Prix Championship. But Steffen Peters emerged with a hat trick of victories aboard Floriano, winning the Grand Prix freestyle on a score of 83.25 percent.
Peters also secured a spot for himself on the U.S. dressage team for the 2006 World Equestrian games, as did Guenter Seidel by winning the overall reserve championship. The selectors met after the competition to start the process of determining four more riders for the short list.
Steffen Peters left the ring in tears after his Grand Prix Special ride today aboard Floriano. Not tears of sadness or frustration, but tears of joy for a truly spectacular ride on June 17, in Gladstone, N.J.
“You don’t have too many of those rides in your life,” said Peters after he scored 77.24 percent to win the class. “He was so expressive. To be that supple and energetic at 16 is unbelievable.”
Peters said he didn’t change anything with Floriano, he just came out with an extra suppleness right from the start.
Michelle Gibson appeared unstoppable as she earned her second victory in the Collecting Gaits Farm/U.S. Equestrian Federation National Intermediaire I Championship with Lex Barker on June 16 in Gladstone, N.J.
Gibson won the Intermediaire I with a score of 72.55 percent over Guenter Seidel and Princeton (70.90%). Gibson also won the Prix St. Georges on the previous day with Lex Barker.
“I was really happy with everything,” she said. “He felt so good in the connection.”
Kim Severson wasn't so sure about Tipperary Liadhnan when he came to her last fall as an uneducated and opinionated 8-year-old.
But he proved he's come a long way in a year by winning the Virginia Horse Trials CCI* in Lexington, Va., May 17-21.
Severson acquired the ride on "Paddy the Gray" because he was a bit difficult initially. Linda Wachtmeister's niece, Elizabeth Anne Wachtmeister, owns him and sent him to Plain Dealing Farm for Lucia Strini, Linda's daughter, to ride.
Steffen Peters is no stranger to the Grand Prix dressage ring and he knew that to win the Grand Prix at the Collecting Gaits Farm U.S. Equestrian Federation National Grand Prix Championship in Gladstone, N.J., he’d have to pull out all the stops.
“I took a lot of risks today,” he said on Thursday, June 15, after his ride. Those risks paid off as he won the class aboard Floriano with a 74.50 percent, almost 3 percentage points higher than his next-closest competitors.
The track was imposing and the rails were falling, but Jan Byyny is a tough competitor and she rode to win, displacing just one rail to take first place with her veteran, Task Force, in the Jersey Fresh CCI***.
Not satisfied with first, she scooped up second place with her other ride, Waterfront. They had one of only two double clears and finished just 0.3 points behind Task Force.
“I’ve never won a reasonably big event before,” said a thrilled Byyny. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”