Steffen Peters (San Diego, CA) returned to the Olympic Games with Ravel and proved that the 14-year-old KWPN gelding still has what it takes to be competitive at the highest level of the sport of dressage. Four years after they were fourth individually in Hong Kong at the 2008 Games, Peters and Ravel scored 77.705% in Greenwich Park's main arena to lead the U.S. Team to fifth place at the conclusion of the first half of the Team Competition.
"I can't explain the feeling you get from Ravel when he's on but today was one of those days," said Peters. "I'm just thrilled that Ravel is still the same horse after all those years."
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro set the mark and lead the British effort as they look to win their first Team Gold in dressage. Their score of 83.663% was never in danger of being touched. Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival are second for The Netherlands on 81.687% and Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill are third for Germany. The British lead by a narrow margin over the Germans in the Team score, as the top seven teams head into August 7th's Grand Prix Special.
Peters and Four Winds Farms' Ravel put in a serious test, their trot half-pass, pirouettes and canter serpentine were phenomenal and Peters earned excellent marks for his riding. They are seasoned veterans at this point together and the strength of their partnership was evident.
"I am just so excited with how much energy Ravel has," said Peters. "He is just as supple as he was when I did the first Grand Prix on him. There are so many highlights from the test today. Even though he had so much energy he walked extremely relaxed he stretched nicely into the bridle. It was one of the best walks I've had on him. The entire canter work felt great. It came together at the right moment I can't wait for the next three days and hopefully I can step it up a little bit. It is quite electric."
Before Peters' test, Tina Konyot got the day started with a solid effort on her own and John Byrialsen's 14-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion Calecto V. This seasoned pair scored 70.456% - a few small mistakes kept them out of the highest placings.
"He was fabulous," said Konyot. "I had some little mistakes that kept us from getting a higher score. But I was very very happy. It is a great experience to be here. I was very focused and concentrated. I think he felt as good as he looked. I missed a couple of extensions in there, little bobbles that didn't help. Overall I was very happy with my test, no major blunders."
They are in 27th place.
Jan Ebeling got the American effort started on Thursday with Rafalca - their score of 70.243 % means the U.S. Team has an average score of 72.801% heading into the Grand Prix.
Adrienne Lyle (Hailey, ID) did her part for the U.S. effort riding as an Individual. She rode confidently on Peggy Thomas' 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Wizard in her first Olympic Games and the extravagant horse managed to maintain his enthusiasm for most of their test. A few mistakes kept them from breaking 70, but their partnership promises volumes for the future.
"I was very happy with him," said Lyle. "We always want to do a personal best but I am happy with that. I think we did everything we could. I think everything went according to plan."
A mistake in the extended trot at the beginning of the test was disapointing to Lyle even though she felt like Wizard was with her every step of the way.
"I think it's just tension, I think he gets over exuberant sometimes," said Lyle. "When he gets all that energy boiling around him and he took a step that he couldn't handle. He had some really powerful moments in there. He pulled it together and he tried really hard."
Lyle sits in 35th place on a score of 69.468%.
Schedules and results are available at http://www.london2012.com/equestrian/
For more information about the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team visit http://usefnetwork.com/featured/Olympics2012/
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