Dressage, Industry News

Olympic dressage silver points to value of Del Mar Horsepark as Aug. 10 board meeting nears.

Horsepark is on the road to reopening. We await the 22nd DAA’s Request for Proposal to lease the facility to an experienced, well-capitalized equestrian operator. Meanwhile, the Olympics in Tokyo brings a new sense of importance for re-opening Del Mar Horsepark as a top-notch competition venue.

Three of the four silver medal dressage Team USA live and train in California. Two have top training barns in San Diego within an easy drive to Del Mar Horsepark. The US Equestrian dressage team won silver at the Tokyo Olympics for the first time in 73 years, demonstrating how California continues to be a center for equestrian excellence that draws top talent globally.  

The California Team USA members are Steffen Peters, Sabine Schut-Kery, Nick Wagman (reserve). Tokyo was the 5th Olympics for Steffen Peters, who also competed in four World Equestrian Games. A lifelong competitor, Steffen won two Olympic bronze medals in 1996 and 2016. At 56, he’s moved up to silver with both a medal and the new Olympic record for oldest medal winner. Steffen operates the 25-acre Arroyo Del Mar training facility that attracts other top horses and riders, located 6 miles from Del Mar Horsepark.

Steffen has coached fellow team member, Sabine Schut-Kery, who now lives in the Napa Valley, as well as the Team USA coach, Debbie MacDonald, who moved to Florida several years ago. This was the first Olympic Games for San Diego resident Nick Wagman, who was an early apprentice of another local Olympian, Guenther Seidel. Nick now runs his own equestrian training facility near Horsepark.

The entire silver medal Team USA in dressage have competed many times at Del Mar Horsepark and the Fairgrounds, including Adrienne Lyle before she moved to Florida.

Why reopening Del Mar Horsepark is critical. The disruption from closing Del Mar Horsepark and cancelling the Del Mar National Horse Show hurt many local riders with Olympic dreams, as California held only two Olympic qualifying dressage shows in 2021 due in part to a lack of show facilities. As a result, only those who could move their horses to Florida, which offers multiple qualifier events from December-April, could earn a spot on the Tokyo Olympics team.

Now, the 22nd DAA has given California’s top riders new hope for future Olympics as Del Mar Horsepark is on track to reopen after selecting an experienced equestrian operator to lease and renovate the 64-acre facility. Horsepark was originally built for Olympic qualification events. The historic Del Mar National Horse Show is also back in 2022 at the Fairgrounds. 

With more local venues, many more California and West Coast-based riders and horses can compete for spots on Team USA thanks to the 22nd DAA successfully leasing Horsepark in 2021. After all, in 2028 the Los Angeles Olympics will showcase our next-gen equine athletes and riders who need a world-class facility that continues our tradition of excellence.

Horsepark’s supporters and neighbors will actively participate in the upcoming August 10 board meeting of the 22nd DAA to encourage a speedy RFP issuance and selection process.

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