California Riding Magazine • April, 2014

Winner's Circle

Peters & Hafner are Big Stars
New management partnership has a hit on their hands with the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W.

Steffen Peters and Legolas 92. Photo by Terri Miller

Despite flu-like symptoms that sent him to the doctor on Thursday morning, Steffen Peters was back in the saddle Friday, Feb. 21 for the first day of the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W, the inaugural project of California Dreaming Productions. He was the star of the show in both large and small tour CDI classes. 

Aboard Four Winds Farm's Legolas 92 (12-year-old Westfalen gelding [Laomedon x Fuerstin by Florestan II]), he had a commanding ride in the Grand Prix to impress the judging panel and earn a winning score of 76.540% over fellow Olympian Guenter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea (14-year-old Westfalen mare [Weinberg x Si Jolie by Saluut] owned by Coral Reef Ranch) with 71.960%. 

"His trot work, half passes, and piaffe/passage are just incredible," said FEI Foreign Judge Jean-Michel Roudier (5* FRA) of Peters and Legolas.  "Also, he is so right in the riding and so good in the training, therefore that is also rewarded."  President of the Ground Jury Gary Rockwell (5* USA) agreed. 

"I think Guenter's horse was the best I've seen here, but Legolas has also improved since I last saw him at the Festival of Champions last fall," he explained. "In some components of the test, such as the extensions, I've seen him ride a little conservatively in the past, but I think today he was asking for more and as a result he got more points from me than before for those elements."

Nineteen horse and rider combinations contested the CDI Prix St. Georges where Peters also triumphed aboard a new mount, the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Aristo (Olivi x Selina by Krack C, owned by Carla Hayes from Pleasanton, CA). Despite being first down centerline, Peters' score of 72.632% remained unchallenged for the duration of the class. Finishing in second was Elizabeth Ball riding Cadence LLC's Dutch Warmblood gelding Avanti (Tuchinski x Fleur by Naturel) on a score of 68.947%. 

"We saw a lot of quality horses and riders, including some 'newbies' to the CDI ring who did a great job," said FEI judge Cara Whitham (5* CAN). "But Steffen started out strong and set the standard for the rest of the class." Even though Aristo was making his international competition debut in the Equidome, Peters wasn't surprised by his mount's winning performance. "He's a really really good guy who tries very hard for you," he explained. "He's a 'steady Eddie,' but the energy is there when you need it. He's so young still, and is an exciting horse to have in the barn." 

In the CDI Young Rider division, Anna Buffini sizzled aboard her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Sundayboy (Kennedy x Eezelma by Zevenaar), earning a score of 71.491% over Catherine Chamberlain with Verdicci (2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding [Krack C x Nadine's Monday by Jackson]) with 69.474%. Rounding out the CDI, Oregon's Emily Park claimed both first- and second-place honors in the Junior Team Test with her two mounts: Tracy Roenick's Pretty Lady (17-year-old Dutch mare [Iglesias x Ivonne by Sit This One Out]) and her own Riva Dee (14-year-old Westphalian mare [Rheingau x Pila by Potsdam]), on scores of 64.279% and 61.847%, respectively. 

Brian Hafner and Lombardo LHF. Photo by Terri Miller

Hafner Wins GP Freestyle

Over the course of a decade-long partnership, Brian Hafner of Penngrove and his 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding Lombardo LHF (Londonderry x Waluga by Werther) have successfully grown together from the Young Rider ranks into consistent performers in the Grand Prix arena. On the final day of the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair, Hafner and Lombardo LHF added to their resume by winning the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle. 

With music from the movie Iron Man 3, Hafner earned a solid score of 69.650% from the judging panel, which included three FEI 5* officials. "I like the dramatic and masculine feel about the music - I think it suits my horse because he's the powerful type," said Hafner, who also finished third in Friday's Grand Prix test. "I'm very happy with my horse and how he's going. We had some mistakes this weekend, but we'll work to get those fixed for the next show. There's always room for improvement." 

Hafner's goal with Lombardo LHF is to qualify for an invitation to return to the U.S. Festival of Champions and National Grand Prix Championship in Gladstone, NJ, and as a recent recipient of a $25,000 Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize from The Dressage Foundation he is looking forward to heading to Europe later this year. "I know how rare it is that a Young Rider horse goes on to the large tour successfully, and it's quite amazing to have this opportunity," he said. "We've been together for a long time, and I appreciate the relationship I have with him. I'm realizing how lucky I am."

In the CDI Under-25 division, two young adult riders returned to the Equidome to contest the challenging CDI Grand Prix 16-25 Test. Twenty-one year old Mackinzie Pooley improved upon her previous day's performance to claim the champion's dress sheet with the veteran Grand Prix mount Partous (1997 Dutch gelding [Juventus x Ladyway by Hemingway] owned by Leslie Pooley) by earning a score of 65.426% over Canada's Monica Houweling and Rifradin (16-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare [Gribaldi x Atradin by Formateur] owned by Linda Houweling) with 63.527%. "This is a much tougher test than the Intermediate B, but it also plays to my horse's strengths," said Pooley.  "We're still working out the one-tempi changes, but luckily the piaffe and passage are easy for him." 

As a junior at the University of San Diego majoring in business marketing, Pooley juggles a full college schedule with riding and competing, and hopes to qualify for the Festival of Champions in the Brentina Cup division. The former NAJYRC medalist appreciates how the Under 25 classes help prepare riders like her for a future at the top level of the sport. "This experience is really teaching me how to ride the Grand Prix properly," Pooley explained. "If my horse isn't doing something right, it's because I'm not doing something right, and that's how I learn and become a better rider."

Inaugural Hit

The first show for California Dreaming Productions, formed by a coalition of long-time FEI organizer Glenda McElroy in partnership with David and Alisa Wilson of W Farms, was deemed a resounding success at the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair CDI-W/Y/J/U-25 (presented by Hof Kasselmann) held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, CA. While exhibitors are competed for top honors in classes from Training Level to Grand Prix, they are also enjoyed a multitude of new features and a fresh atmosphere at the show, including a beautifully-appointed competitor lounge, VIP area, and hospitality. 

Also debuting to rave reviews was "CDP Live," a live video-streaming feature which allowed fans from around the world to watch all of the CDI action as it happens in conjunction with expert commentary by FEI 5* (ret) judge Axel Steiner.  "It's beyond awesome," said FEI rider and trainer Marie Meyers. "The footing is fantastic, and the televisions with the live feed and hospitality in the lounges are great - it makes you want to stay, relax, and enjoy the show. I'm telling everyone I know to support this - the organizers have done such a great job with everything.

Report by Yellow Horse Marketing for California Dreaming Productions. Complete results are available on the California Dreaming Productions website,

All in the Family!
Avery Glynn was voted best pony rider at Thermal weeks 3 & 4. Her mom, Hope, below, won the $5,000 Devocoux Hunter Prix on Woodstock during week 4. Hope and Ned Glynn operate
Sonoma Valley Stables in Petaluma.