Gladstone, NJ – The third day of the 2011 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions meant the second day of the USEF Intermediaire I National Dressage Championship. The results remained unchanged as Steffen Peters won his third class in a row taking the top spot in the Intermediaire I test on Weltino’s Magic with a score of 76.421%.
He fought back from a couple of mistakes early on and overcame a couple of misunderstandings to duplicate his win in yesterday’s Prix St. Georges.
“It wasn’t quite as easy,” said Peters. “There were a couple of misunderstandings. When I asked for the left half-pass he thought extended trot. In the two-tempis one of the changes felt short behind. Where I think we won it was with really good pirouettes and the walk.”
Peters explained that when things aren’t going to plan in the test, he tries not to let it distract him from the task at hand.
“He’s a pretty straightforward horse,” said Peters. “If I don’t screw up, he doesn’t screw up.”
The Intermediaire I Championship also serves as the USEF Selection Trials for the 2011 Pan American Games, and Peters, despite being an Olympic and World Championship veteran and medalist, has never ridden on a Pan American Team. He and Jen Hlavacek’s 9-year-old Westphalian gelding have been winning at a record pace not only on the West Coast but they also swept the small tour in Aachen this summer. Peters has been nearly invincible with this horse and with Ravel in the Grand Prix and lead a dressage resurrection in the United States.
His quest for improvement is never-ending.
“You can never rest on the scores you had the day before,” said Peters. “It’s much easier to be the underdog.”
The Prix St. Georges counts for 40%, the Intermediaire I counts for 45% and the Freestyle on Sunday counts for 15% of the championship total.
Heather Blitz was close to tears at the end of her test, because despite the fact that Paragon has been winning at nearly every turn, this test was one of the highlights of their lives together. They scored 74.684% in an effort that spoke volumes about the strength of their partnership.
“I did go for it more today,” said Blitz. “I could, because yesterday he told me he was ready. He did absolutely everything for me, he was very honest. We were completely on the same page today.”
Blitz was there when Paragon was born, and standing 18 hands now, he was a big foal eight years ago. She says that their relationship since day one helps them in the ring.
“I know everything about him,” said Blitz about her 8-year-old Danish Warmblood.
Rounding out the top three was the defending Championship from 2010. Cesar Parra (Whitehouse Station, NJ) rode Grandioso, owned by Sarah and Michael Davis. The 10-year-old Westphalian had a couple of mistakes today that Parra believes were because of improvements they are making to the overall quality of the work.
Grandioso broke to trot during the flying changes.
“We are doing some minor adjustments to get him a little longer in the neck for eights,” said Parra. “He thought I was giving a half halt to trot.”
Grandioso was the 2007 6-year-old Champion at the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships and was then third in 2009 at the Developing Horse Championships, formerly ridden by Jason Canton. Parra represented Colombia in 2003 at the Pan American Games where he finished fourth individually, he is looking forward to the opportunity to represent the United States after becoming a citizen in 2010.
Complete LIVE coverage with commentary is available here: http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2011FOC.
For Video on Demand from throughout the competition please visit: http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2011FOC.
To attend in person, please visit http://www.uset.org for directions to the venue.