All of the demonstration riders and horses at the 2011 Adequan/USDF National Symposium were fabulous, but as often happens at these events, one horse stood out from the crowd.
No, I'm not talking about Grand Prix superstar Ravel, although with rider Steffen Peters he treated the audience at the Del Mar (CA) Fairgrounds to a run-through of his captivating new freestyle. I'm talking about another of Peters's new mounts, the seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding Sundance 8 (by Shakespeare in Love), owned by Margaret Koster Koerner.
Imported from Germany, Sundance was originally called Stuart Little, according to Eurodressage.com. The chestnut gelding had a few riders before arriving in Peters's barn in San Diego in March.
Owner Koerner is a respected art historian from Cambridge, MA. Her husband, Joseph Koerner, is also a well-known art historian.
Now, about Sundance. Introducing him, US Equestrian Federation national dressage technical advisor and high-performance coach Anne Gribbons called his talent "scary" and repeatedly noted how easily collection and upper-level work come to him. Coupled with the horse's remarkable temperament, it was easy to see why Gribbons and Peters actually worked to ensure that Sundance didn't try to do too much for his not-yet-fully-developed physique.
I've seen a lot of great dressage horses, but Sundance blew me away with his elasticity, grace, ability to collect, temperament, and range. This horse has more octaves in his range than I've ever seen--and I've seen Totilas, who until the other day was my benchmark. Of course, Sundance doesn't have nearly the training of a Totilas or a Ravel yet, but it sure will be exciting to see how he develops. Gribbons is already referring to him as a possible horse for the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in France.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video should be even better. Enjoy these clips of Peters and Gribbons showing the symposium audience what Sundance is capable of.