By Britney Anderson
They say that behind every great man stands a great woman. Steffen Peters’ name is much more familiar than his wife, Shannon’s, but the saying only applies inasmuch as Shannon is Steffen’s loyal support system and companion. Both in and out of the ring, Shannon does not need to stand “behind” anyone — this dressage power couple stands, works and excels side by side.
Shannon’s accomplishments stand on their own: a U.S. Dressage Foundation bronze, silver and gold medalist, Shannon has competed three times at the National Championships. Shannon and Luxor claimed the Reserve National Champion Intermediaire I, she trained Weltino’s Magic to Reserve National Champion at the Young Horse Championships, and Shannon continues to clean up in top Southern California CDIs.
Shannon grew up in Michigan with success in western and saddle seat riding, and then moved to Boulder, Colorado, to attend the University of Colorado. She started her own dressage training business in Boulder after finishing school, a pursuit that lasted 17 years. It took enduring months of being waitlisted for a Steffen Peters clinic to start a relationship that began as a friendship and has evolved into a beautiful marriage and working partnership.
Side by Side
Shannon moved to California in 2002, and married Steffen in 2004. Together they run the 22-acre Arroyo Del Mar in San Diego, California. When asked how her life would be different if she hadn’t met and married Steffen, Shannon replied, “Well, I’d probably still be in Colorado! I love to compete, and feel like it’s a good test of your training process at home to go out and test your skills. Being in California has been wonderful for that. But I’m also a homebody, and enjoy so many outdoor activities like mountain biking, cycling, tennis, hiking, skiing etc., and Boulder is the mecca for that!
“I’ve trained with Karl Mikolka, former chief rider of the Spanish Riding School, for almost 20 years now,” she continued, “and thankfully he still makes trips to California at 80 years old. So I don’t think the basis of my training would be any different whether I was married to Steffen or not. Of course, having daily eyes on the ground between the two of us is invaluable. We work so well together, and train with the same principles in mind, so it’s easy for us to work together.”
Though the Shannon and Steffen have separate horses and clients, the skills and perspectives they share make it easy for them to fill in for and coach one another. The two are actively involved in Southern California competitions, and while they may travel for special shows, Shannon stated, “But this is our home, and we love our competitions here!”
Working side by side may challenge other couples, but Shannon and Steffen have found ways to make it work, and work well. “We have a great system between us that works really well to keep the balance between providing him the necessary tools to be at the top of his game, and me still having the freedom to compete my own horses. My goals have evolved over the years with my horses, and I feel so blessed to be married to a man who I believe embodies every positive aspect of this sport and proudly brings it to the competitive arena.”
Shannon is well-known for her attention to detail. She believes in quality, whether it’s in her competition turnout or the supplements she feeds her horses. She’s the creator of ShowRingShine, The Boot Care Kit, which helps riders clean and polish their boots to get a shine even Shannon approves of. Her horses get BioStar whole food supplements, made from only organic and GMO-free whole food sources.
Shannon is also the first to recognize that a well-rounded and balanced life includes pursuits beyond horses. For Steffen, it’s flying model planes. For Shannon, a 25- to 50-mile bike ride is a fantastic stress-reliever. And while Steffen may compete at a different level in the dressage ring, it’s Shannon who comes out on top in a tennis match.
“An old friend, and my farrier for 17 years, told me when I was in my 20s that the smartest thing I could do was to find other passions and things that inspired me besides horses,” Shannon divulged. “It took me many years to realize the value in what he said. But it’s so, so true. Not only do our bodies wear out, if all we do is ride, but mentally having stimulation outside of horses only makes you a better rider, teacher and trainer.”
As Steffen looks towards the Olympics, Shannon’s goals involve training young horses. “I have a wonderful 8-year-old that Steffen and I own, as well as a coming 3-year-old that I’m really excited about,” she said. “Also, a very exciting 4-year-old that a great client of ours just imported. So I have a lot of projects started with younger horses, which I love. I have a saying when people ask me what my goals are: My goal is always to listen to my horses every day, learn from them and teach them to the best of my abilities to be the best and happiest athlete they can be!”