Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper
Competition, Dressage

DASC Spring Benefit Show Off to a Breezy Beginning

Friday’s CDI Grand Prix winner Steffen Peters described competing at Galway Downs as an “honor.” The compliment from the Tokyo USA Team Silver medalist was echoed by many of the 300 entries here for the Dressage Association of Southern California’s Spring Benefit CDI 3*, CPEDI and National Dressage Show.

            Organized by Equestrian Concepts, the competition is presented by Four Winds Farm and the Perrigo CPEDI is presented by Adequan® and the United States Equestrian Federation.

            Warm, progressively windy weather greeted contenders from Southern California’s thriving dressage scene and far beyond, including Maine, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

            Steffen was thrilled with Suppenkasper’s test, especially the relaxation and flow. “We are sometimes called adrenaline junkies, but I’m a flow junkie,” he explained. “That was one of his best goes. It felt relatively easy and he was so with me. It felt that we became one and that is a neat feeling.” And one that earned them a 76.848%.

            This was just their second outing of the year and Steffen felt the break was a benefit to “Mopsy’s” mood. Relaxation seems to be the famous Dutch Warmblood’s modus operandi these days, Steffen stated. “He’s so confident and relaxed since Tokyo.” Because of the result? “Who knows! I certainly told him several times that he won a silver medal.”

            “It’s always been fantastic to be here,” he continued of the competition that’s just an hour away from his home barn in San Diego. “Over the last three or four years, they’ve made so many improvements. Every time you come here, there’s another arena with great footing, another covered VIP area, etc. It looks very much like an international show.”

            There was no resting on laurels. “This is a huge preview of coming attractions. It was not a show where you could afford to not take risks. I hope we can reproduce this feeling in Aachen.” That CDIO in late June would be the first of a few European tour stops for the U.S. team before the World Championships in Denmark.

Nick Wagman & Don John

            Nick Wagman, San Diego, CA, and Don John were 2nd on a 69.761%, followed by Matthew Cunningham, San Diego, CA, and Ribery 27 with a 65.5%.

            The Grand Prix Ground Jury consisted of Magnus Ringmark, Freddy Leyman, Maria Collander, Jane Weatherwax and Birgit Epskamp-Valkenborg.

            Prix St Georges

            Kathleen Raine, Murrieta, CA, and Figaro topped the CDI Prix St. Georges class with a 70.196 from judges Magnus Ringmark, Maria Collander and Jane Weatherwax. “I’m very happy with how the 8-year-old is progressing and I think he’s very solid in the Small Tour,” Kathleen said. “He was a little spooky at first, but then he recovered and he was right with me the whole time.”

            She foresees a “bright future” for the Westphalian, hopefully starting with Saturday’s Intermediate 1. Rebecca Rigdon, Cardiff by the Sea, CA, and Iquem finished second on a 68.824%, and Laura Decesari, Tucson, AZ, and Flower-Power were third on the same score.

Eric Grimm & Carlos Ramirez

            Amateur rider Eric Grimm, Irvine, CA, called his Prix St. Georges test on Carlos Ramirez one of the best of their one-year partnership. “I really liked our pirouettes, which can normally be trouble. He had a lot of power today.” Retired from his 30-year career as a Colonel in the U.S. Army, Eric has put his extra free time to good use in the arena, under the watchful eye of his trainer and wife, Faith Grimm. The extra work was reflected in their 60.685% ride.

            Para Party

            International para dressage competition took center stage in the Grand Prix arena at mid-day and riders were grateful for the chance to test their progress on an international stage and advance their quests.

            “The West Coast belongs in the journey to the World Championships and other international competitions,” exclaimed Mia Rodier-Dawallo of Santa Barbara. Mia and the “horse who walked right out of my childhood dream,” Jayden, earned a 67.323% in the CPEDI 3* PARA Team Test Grade II.

Mia Rodier-Dawallo & Jayden

            Jayden, aka “Pudding,” resembles the imaginary friend Mia called forth to cope with bad moments as a kid. When Mia saw him at trainer Patty Mayer’s Balliwick House, the rider was instantly struck by his resemblance to the equine companion she’d dreamed up years ago. He was for sale, but not in Mia’s budget. Instead, friends and strangers crowd-sourced his purchase price and the rest is becoming history. They’ve already filled out their applications for both the World Championships and the Festival of Champions. “Patty and Jayden have made all my dreams come true,” Mia said after her ride.

            Mia got her start at Ride On Therapeutic Riding Center in Newbury Park, CA. She shares that connection with Genevieve Rohner, Park City, UT, the 14-year-old who earned a 64.167% in the FEI CPEDI 3* PARA Team Test Grade IV with Patty Mayer’s Cato.

Genevieve Rohner & Cato

            According to family lore, Genevieve announced her desire to compete in the Olympics when she was 5. She was an ice skater at the time, and her mom said she’d have to give up everything else to pursue that goal. “I said, ‘no.’ I want to spend more time riding,” Genevieve recounts. And that’s exactly what she’s been spending her time on for the last five years.

            Canadian Tokyo Paralympian Winona Hartvikson made her trip from British Columbia more than worthwhile. She and Onyx’ fluid, energetic effort earned a 70.238 in the FEI CPEDI 3* PARA Team Test Grade I.

            The CPEDI judging panel consisted of David Schmutz, Freddy Leyman and Birgit Epskamp-Valkenborg

            Next Generation

            Sixteen-year-old Ellanor Boehning continued her quest for a North American Young Riders Championships Region 7 berth by topping the Young Rider Team Test with Sir Junior.  The Hanoverian was a surprise birthday present last fall, and the new pair jumped into the CDI world this winter in Wellington, FL. “He gained a lot of confidence from the big atmosphere there, and he’s a confident horse going into new places — unless there are things flapping.” There were things flapping this afternoon. “He got a little spooky down by C, but he handled it really well,” said the San Diego resident.

             Lucienne Bacon, Atherton, CA, and Do Re Mi were second on 62.108% and Charlotte Dunn, Deer Mountain, Utah, and Golden Noir were third with a 59.324%.

Tiggy Gates & Shadows Dream

            Also targeting the NAYC, Tiggy Gates and Shadows Dream had a lovely ride to a 67.010% in the Junior Team Test. “Our test was a little tight, and we are working on that,” said the rider from Industry, ME. “The atmosphere is pretty intense in there, and he handles the pressure and the atmosphere like an absolute champ.” 

            Josephine Hinnemann, Murrieta, CA, and Copa Cabana MRF earned a 66.263% for second in this class and Katherine Nayak, Tuscon, AZ, and Gaspacho were third on a 63.081%.

            Jane Weatherwax, Freddie Leyman, and Birgit Epskamp-Valkenborg served as the Junior and Young Riders judges.

            The action continues through the weekend with qualifying classes for numerous championships, from the Grand Prix and Intermediate I Championships to the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses.

            Full results can be found on

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