It’s been a busy season for top-ranking USEF dressage competitor Steffen Peters and his wife and business partner, Shannon, an accomplished FEI trainer and Grand Prix dressage competitor. Although the official U.S. Equestrian Team won’t be named for another month, Steffen is a shoe-in for the team and a likely contender for gold with Legolas and Ravel, his two top horses.
Steffen has already accumulated an impressive collection of top honors, including the USEF Equestrian of the Year (for the third time), winning the 2012 World Dressage Masters Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle, two gold medals at the Pan-American Games in Mexico in 2011, two titles at the USEF Dressage National Championships, first place at the Del Mar World Cup Freestyle in March, and two runs at the Olympics, in 1996, and 2008, when he took fourth in individual dressage.
Based on his performance record and previous Olympic medals, Steffen was recently granted permission to take a bye for the upcoming Selection Trials for the Olympic Games. The approval of this request (presented by Peters in order to save undue travel and stress on Ravel) automatically places him on the Short List/FEI Nominated Entry on the U.S. Equestrian Team.
Meanwhile, Shannon, who has been partnering with Akiko Yamazaki’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Odyssey and won the Grand Prix Special at this year’s Del Mar and Burbank CDIs, as well as qualifying for and competing at the USEF Festival of Champions in Gladstone, N.J., will maintain her own string of horses while supporting Steffen in his Olympic bid.
“I’ll be the support crew for this year until after the Olympics,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Between flying back and forth, taking care of our horses here, and working with my top horse Flor de Selva (who has been out due to a bout with Lyme Disease), I’m not planning to compete until after the Olympics.”
As top international competitors, Shannon and Steffen understand the role optimized digestive health plays in international success. They have been using SUCCEED since the summer of 2005, when Shannon read about it in a magazine and decided to conduct a blind test on three of their top horses. She didn’t tell Steffen which horses she placed on SUCCEED, instead asking him to identify the horses on SUCCEED after three months. Based on the positive changes in their coats, weight and trainability, he guessed correctly.
Seven years later, the Peters still rely on SUCCEED to help their top performance horses achieve success in the dressage arena. Steffen’s top three horses — Legolas, Ravel and Weltino’s Magic — and Shannon’s top three — Odyssey, Flor de Selva and Disco Inferno — are all on SUCCEED.
“The horses we have on SUCCEED pick themselves up more, respond to aids better and exhibit better overall trainability, which makes an enormous impact at the top level,” Shannon said. “We always try to keep things as natural as we can for our horses and to limit what we put in the feed bucket to only the products that work, and continue to work. We believe in doing whatever we can nutritionally to help our horses to be the most comfortable and gastrointestinally sound that we can.”
In the lead up to the anticipated trip to London, that includes using SUCCEED twice a day when showing: once at the normal morning or evening feed, and again one hour before a class. Steffen will also give his horses SUCCEED before boarding the plane to London, as the Peters use SUCCEED to help their horses combat the negative effects of travel.
“During a show situation we want our horses to be extremely comfortable,” Steffen said. “And a happy horse and a comfortable horse simply performs better…SUCCEED helps us to achieve this goal.”
The Peters also feed a natural diet as much as possible, limit grain intake, and provide hay 4-5 times per day (or free-choice), depending on the horse. And although Shannon and Steffen are well known to be fierce competitors in the arena, they put the health and well-being of their horses at the forefront.
“I would tell my competitors to use SUCCEED, because at the end of the day we have to do everything we can possibly do to make our horses comfortable as athletes,” Steffen said.
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