Shannon Peters is a U.S. Dressage Federation bronze, silver and gold medalist, and three-time National Championship competitor. She loves bringing young horses up through the levels, and competes regularly both in Southern California CDIs and other top shows. Shannon is married to Olympic dressage rider Steffen Peters, and together they operate Arroyo Del Mar in San Diego, California. Do you have a question you want Shannon to answer? Send questions to email@example.com.
How does the music Steffen and Legolas used in the Olympic freestyle reflect Legolas’ personality?
Steffen has always picked his own music for his freestyles, and they all have been very unique to each horse’s personality. Legolas is very playful, and a bit of a jokester, so Steffen picked fun music with a bit of lyrics in it, to convey his personality to the audience.
What should a rider try to do if something goes wrong mid-test?
We always remind our students to above all, keep riding! Easier said than done sometimes when things aren’t going well, but one mistake can lead to a snowball effect of many more if you find yourself dwelling on the first one. Stay focused on the movements ahead, and try to gain points back by executing the next movements with accuracy. And always end your test with a smile!
What do you do when a horse feels “off?”
I always do a full body check for swelling, heat or tenderness. Usually these things would be found when grooming, but occasionally, will be felt under saddle first. I also will free lunge a horse to get a sense of how they move without the rider’s weight.
I like to have a sense of what may be wrong, so if I need to call the vet, I can relay the information necessary for him to be prepared when he comes out to see the horse. A horse that consistently pushes a saddle one direction, or has difficulty bending one way, or is very uneven in the contact can also be ways I feel a horse being “off.”
How do you train a horse to be more sensitive to a rider’s leg?
Usually I train the rider to be more disciplined with their leg aids, and make sure they have a thorough understanding of when, how and why to use certain aids from the leg. There’s a difference in what the horses feel and understand when a rider uses their upper leg, knee or calf. Also, making sure a rider doesn’t constantly aid a horse from the leg without realizing it and then, when the rider thinks they’re giving an aid, nothing happens because the horse’s sides and mind have become dull to their rider.