photo of Steffen Peters

Steffen Peters clinic

Steffen Peters is one of my dressage idols. One of his quotes is my mantra and is my desktop background so I’m reminded of it daily. To audit one of his clinics, was a dream. To be chosen to train with him would be one of my greatest accomplishments. I’m not there, yet. However, I’m very fortunate to have his influence in my training through my trainer Laura  and JJ Tate. A week ago, a little bit of that dream came true. I was able to watch Steffen host mini-clinics at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, WI. Those two hours were the most validating and invaluable time spent and gave me an incredible amount of motivation.

Since this was a non-traditional clinic atmosphere, his sessions were split into one-hour segments each showcasing two riders, twice daily throughout the three-day event. I was able to attend the first day’s sessions – Developing the First Level Horse and Developing the Third Level Horse.  Since Carter and I are showing First Level this year it seemed so appropriate with the Third Level session to give us continued learning for the future.

Once I got over being star-struck – Steffen Peters was teaching less than a football field away – I settled into the session, listened, watched and learned. This First Level session was spot on for me. The riders were two people I am familiar with in Region 2; one even trains with JJ so I was familiar with her riding immediately. 15 minutes into the first rider both my trainer and I realized that I had just had this exact lesson the night before. As I watched the rider try to get her horse to lengthen and come back at the trot, then lengthen and come back at the canter (both in the First Level tests) I felt euphoric. We are in exactly the right place in our training!

This rider, who is well more experienced, is going through the same challenges in these movements with her young horse as I am! I’m often my harshest critic, mostly because this is my first time experiencing taking a young horse (any horse for that matter) through dressage training. I don’t know what to expect, when. I don’t know that it’s a learned thing for him to listen to my aids. I didn’t think he came programmed, but I didn’t know. Period. So, to see this rider – to hear Steffen giving her the same guidance that Laura a little more than 12 hours ago give me. I was ecstatic! Every young horse will get confused; it’s the rider’s responsibility to reward them for their efforts and encourage them to learn what the rider is asking for in a lengthening transition.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the First Level Session:

Steffen’s methods are so gentle, so unassuming, so familiar that I felt like I was the one riding. I picked up several tips on how to push through some issue areas but the most rewarding is the amount of confidence I gained in those 120 minutes.

Maybe, just maybe, Carter and I will have the opportunity to learn from Steffen first hand at some point. In the meantime well continue benefitting from his influence on Laura and I’ll keep practicing my mantra, Steffen’s quote.

“Discipline is the bridge between dreams and success.”

– Sue