“When I train, 75 percent of what I’m doing is really training the horse mentally. The other 25 percent—getting the horse fit and developing the muscles—really isn’t that complicated. It’s such a big passion, and we absolutely love it. It’s not just about competition—it’s a serious love for animals.” - Steffen Peters
Born in Wesel, Germany, Steffen is a four-time Olympic dressage competitor and three-time USEF Horseman of the Year. He marks as his good fortune to have trained and ridden a number of remarkable horses, reaching back to his teenage years in Germany when his father bought him a three-year-old KWPN gelding named Udon.
The two trained at Jo Hinnemann’s barn in Voerde, Germany, where Steffen met American trainer Laurie Falvo who invited him to work at her barn in San Diego in the summer of 1984. Captivated by the lifestyle and weather, Steffen made a life changing choice and moved to San Diego with Udon. Living in a $200 a month garage, riding a motorbike for transportation, he worked for others for five years, including Guenter Seidel, before going out on his own in 1991. In 1992 he became a U.S. citizen.
While riding in a clinic with the late Dr. Reiner Klimke, Steffen was spotted by Lila Kommerstad who would become his first sponsor, purchasing Udon from the Peters family. With the horse he had brought up from a three year old, Steffen saw his dream come true as they were honored to represent the U.S. in the Atlanta Olympics where they won team bronze.
Other great horses came into his life, including Akeena and Grandeur whom he rode in the 2002 World Cup and competed in the CHIO in Aachen. These two campaigners spent several years retired at Steffen’s barn.
Dawn White O'Connor
Dawn White-O'Connor, originally from a small town in Colorado, has worked for Steffen and Shannon Peters for almost a decade. She began as a working student and groom, but has earned her way to great success in the competition arena. At the age of 27, Dawn was given the opportunity to compete on Steffen's 2016 Olympic mount Legolas, owned by Four Winds Farms Akiko Yamazaki.
Her most recent achievement was her success at the United States Dressage Federation Festival of Champions event at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Michigan. Dawn is the reigning 2018 USDF National Developing Grand Prix Champion on Four Winds Farms Ballerino. Since then, they have debuted as the selected demo Grand Prix pair for the Isabell Werth Clinic in Encinitas, CA.
Shannon is a U.S. Dressage Federation Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist, and three-time National Championship competitor: on Luxor in 2007 when the two were crowned Reserve National Champions Intermediare I; on Flor de Selva in 2009 when they took home 4th place in the Intermediare division; and on Akiko Yamazaki’s Odyssey in 2011 after winning the Grand Prix Special at Del Mar and Burbank CDIs.
Shannon loves to bring young horses through the levels, one of the most successful being Weltino’s Magic, with whom she won Reserve National Champion at the 2008 Young Horse Championships.
The creator of ShowRingShine, The Boot Care Kit, (www.showringshine.net), Shannon is well known for her attention to the details of riding and competing. A native of Michigan, Shannon’s early riding life included success competing as a western and saddle seat rider. Work in a tack shop as a teen was one of the places where she learned how to create the elegant, finished look of an accomplished rider.
College brought her to Boulder, Colorado. It was there that she developed her successful dressage training business which she moved to San Diego in 2002. Her own dressage education began with Nancy Baker and “S” Judge Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez. For the past 20 or so years, her mentors have been Karl Mikolka and Steffen Peters.
Today, as a popular clinician and teacher, and coach to her husband Steffen, she is featured in dressage symposiums around the country, often focusing on a subject most important to her, the rider’s position.
“What we may not realize is the extent to which the rider’s position affects the execution of movements by the horse. It’s about so much more than just pretty riding – it’s effective riding, and preparing our horses to perform their work correctly.”
Her days are filled with training, managing the business of Arroyo Del Mar and six days a week riding her bike. A competitive rider at one time, “I do it for the fitness, and to get out on the road for a peaceful couple of hours on my bike.”
Born and raised in Victoria, BC, Ehren has been working for SPeters Dressage for over 5 years. Before moving to San Diego, Ehren achieved her HA level in Pony club. After starting with a base of eventing, Ehren found her passion of Dressage and never looked back. She started as a working student for the Peters’ and now works for Shannon Peters as her assistant coach. Mentored by Karl Mikolka, Shannon’s classical and harmonious training program has always an inspiration to her to be the best, most harmonious partner with every horse she works with.
In the show arena, she has successfully achieved her silver medal. Ehren has ridden multiple horses at the Prix St. George, and competitively in the Young Rider division.
In 2016, Ehren had the ride on Weltino’s Magic. The team won multiple CDIs at the Young Rider level and qualified for the NAYRC. Unfortunately due to a severe colic, they were unable to attend.
Ehren also has a passion for starting and working with young horses. She currently has a small training business at Arroyo. She is incredibly thankful to be able to train and learn from the Peters’ everyday.
2004 — Steffen was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team with his horse Floriano who was in 2005 purchased by Laurelyn and Stephen Browning. In 2005 Floriano was U.S. Grand Prix Champion, victorious in the group 1 CDIO Grand Prix at Aachen, and in 2006 highest finishing American horse on the U.S. bronze medal team at the Aachen World Equestrian Games.
2006 — Akiko Yamazaki’s Ravel performed his first ever Grand Prix test with Steffen aboard.
2008 – Steffen and Ravel became the highest placing American pair at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, coming in just out of the medals at fourth place.
2009 — Peters won the FEI Rolex World Cup finals, then swept the Grand Prix, the Special and the Freestyle at Aachen – a feat no American had ever done. That same year United States Dressage Federation named Ravel horse of the year.
2010 — Steffen and Ravel represented the United States in Kentucky at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, where they earned two bronze medals.
2011 — Steffen brought home team and individual gold medals from the Pan American Games with Jen and Bruce Hlavacek’s Weltino’s Magic.
2012 — The London Olympics saw Steffen and Ravel come in 17th in the individual dressage and as part of the U.S. team which came 6th.
2013 — He looks forward to a great future with Akiko Yamazaki’s Legolas 92. The pair finished third in the Exquis CDI5* Grand Prix Freestyle at the World Dressage Masters in Florida with an 80.175%. They went on to win the Grand Prix Freestyle in Del Mar, CA at the Dressage Affaire.