-- Desert Dressage press release, edited by Eurodressage - Photos © Terri Miller
Steffen Peters (USA) made a victorious return to the Grand Prix arena aboard Suppenkasper at the 2023 CDI-W Thermal on 17 - 19 November 2023. The multiple Olympian dominated the CDI-W division, while Erin Nichols won the 3* big tour.
Peters Collects World Cup Points
Peters and the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (by Spielberg x Krack C) did as they know best, and performed exceptionally, winning both the World Cup Grand Prix and Freestyle at the 2023 CDI-W Thermal on 17 - 19 November 2023.
The CDI-W tour featured just two riders.
On Friday, Peters and “Mopsie” rode to a score of 74.804% in the World Cup Grand Prix. Following that momentum, they returned to the ring Saturday to ultimately earn a score of 79.795% in the freestyle.
Peters and Mopsie are no strangers to international competition, having represented the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where they took home a team silver medal. But competing on the international stage close to home, in San Diego, CA, is an extra special feeling for Peters.
Just last April, the duo represented the USA on home turf at the 2023 World Cup Finals in Omaha, NE, and walking away as the top-placing American pair. During his Freestyle in Omaha, Peters took an already outstanding freestyle and incorporated musical elements from his home state of California.
“It was very good, and very exciting,” Peters remarked of his top finish in front of a home crowd in Omaha. “We tried to top it a little bit from Tokyo. “We made it a little bit better, and that’s very hard because it was already such a good freestyle to start with. The crowd loved it, ‘Mopsie’ loved it, and I loved it.”
Peters has always had a love for competing in front of a home crowd, which was why the World Cup Finals were such a big goal of his.
“It’s just so special,” he continued regarding competing on U.S. soil. “The second I got done, I saw some people standing up for us, and I had both of my arms up in the air. It’s just such a wonderful feeling and it’s really hard to describe. After 50 years of doing this sport, it still gets me really excited.”
In 2024, the World Cup Finals head to Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, and Peters is already on his way to earning a spot there, though the competition will be steep to secure a qualifying position.
Nichols Wins Grand Prix Special Tour
Twenty-year-old Erin Nichols returned to Thermal to compete in her first-ever Grand Prix event as a senior and it was a winning weekend for her as well, topping both the 3* Grand Prix and Special with Elian Royale. The GP special tour featured only three riders.
On Friday, Nichols and Elian Royale scored a personal best of 66.478% in the Grand Prix, and things just kept getting better as the week went on, scoring a personal best of 69.404% in the Special just one day later.
“This was a great milestone for my horse and me and a great introduction to the international level,” Nichols reflected on her wins. “To be able to step into the big tour at 20 years old is really special, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to learn all about this level at such a young age. And I’m really excited for what’s coming next now.”
Having competed in both jumpers and dressage, Nichols is well versed in the horse show world, but stepping into international competition presents something new no matter the discipline, and she welcomed the changes.
“At the CDI we had five international judges; they had such a super panel this weekend. They are the same judges you would get anywhere else in the world. It’s judges I know from Europe, and it just gives you that experience without having to travel to Europe to have them judge you. It’s such a unique opportunity to be able to compete in a CDI for these judges in California,” Nichols explained.
Elian Royale is still a growing partnership with Nichols in the irons, having brought the horse to the states from Europe to be her newest partner. With their training under David Wightman, they’re learning the ropes of the higher levels of dressage. Nichols and the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (by Johnson x Amidou) are more than hitting their stride, they’re proving to be ready for the big leagues.
“I think we’ve both grown tremendously as a partnership,” she said. “We’re starting to trust each other more and I’m trying I’m starting to learn how to manage his fire. He’s so hot. He just loves what he does, so it’s about managing his excitement and his love for what he does. I’ve never met a horse that loves what he does more than him. The more I go into this level, the more I see how easy it is for him. I feel I can take a step back and just let him shine and let him do his thing and just help him be his best, and in turn, do my best as well.”
Scores: 2023 CDI-W Thermal