American rider Steffen Peters said from the start he’d need three wins to secure his berth at FEI Dressage World Cup Finals in Omaha, Nebraska this April.

He and Suppenkasper earned their first with an FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle win during Desert Dressage II in November, and their second this weekend in the FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle during Desert Dressage III on a score of 81.590%. Anna Buffini (USA) and FRH Davinia La Douce were second (77.460%); Claire Darnell (USA) and Harrold S took third (73.455%).

“‘Mopsie’ did another great freestyle today,” said Peters of the 14-year-old KWPN gelding. “In the double pirouette after the canter extension, I was a couple seconds behind the music, so I finished the pirouette a little too soon. Then, I did the walk and trot work in the reverse direction. I think that was a bit confusing to the judges, but then, everything worked out at the end.”

That’s an understatement. Owned by Akiko Yamazaki and Four Winds Farm, Mopsie and Peters have been a dominant force at Desert International Horse Park this season, with just one more win to go—per Peters’ calculation—to secure their 2023 FEI World Cup Finals spot. 

“It’s been a while that we’ve been able to ride in front of an American crowd,” said Peters, who last competed an American-based championship during the World Equestrian Games in Tryon in 2018. “If I would get a chance to ride once more in my career at home in a freestyle, it would mean so much. It would be a huge honor, and hopefully, Mopsie can pull off one more freestyle win in January.”

Until then, Peters is keeping his partner on a kind of post-Covid-flex-schedule of sorts, with a break-day mid-week to keep him content. “We’ve been pretty successful with Mopsie working four days a week,”  said Peters. “He works Mondays and Tuesdays, goes for a walk Wednesday, then we work Thursdays and Fridays.

“He walks quite a bit on the weekends,” Peters added. “Hopefully, we can keep him as happy and sound as he is right now.”

And, if all goes according to plan, the pair—already breakout TikTok sensations from the Tokyo Olympics in 2020—stand a good chance of bringing down the house. Peters, a sometime-DJ in a former life, uses his experience to put together vintage freestyle tracks that get the crowds on their feet.

“There is not a dressage fan in the world as loud, as enthusiastic, and as extremely inspiring as the American dressage fan,” Peters said.

The American rider will return with Mopsie to contest the last FEI World Cup class of the series during Desert Dressage IV, taking place January 5–8, 2023. Until then, he’ll be celebrating not just his latest victory, but his wife, Shannon Peters, who also took home a win in the FEI Grand Prix Special aboard Disco Inferno on a new personal best score of 67.766%.

Shannon Peters celebrates with husband Steffen Peters. Photo by Terri Miller

“That was just fabulous,” Steffen Peters said. “I was so happy for [Shannon]. It means just as much to me as Mopsie winning today.”

Featured image: ©Terri Miller