David Blake is in the enviable position of training and riding with Steffen and Shannon Peters on a daily basis since he operates his David Blake Dressage Training facility out of Arroyo Del Mar in San Diego, California, a world-class training center led by the Peters.
“Scott Hassler introduced me to Steffen in 2006 and I began trailering my six-year-old Holsteiner gelding to Arroyo Del Mar for lessons in preparation for the Young Horse Championships in Lexington, Kentucky. After the Championships, Steffen would give me lessons at shows and I would go to San Diego as often as possible for lessons,” David said. “In the spring of 2009 the Peters officially asked me to move into Arroyo Del Mar so I moved there with my wife, Andrea, and two horses.”
David said, at the sake of sounding cheesy, it has been a dream come true for him. “It is such a beautiful environment for both the horse and rider. I get lessons from Steffen, especially in preparation for shows, but the daily lessons I get from watching Steffen and Shannon have made an incredible impact on my riding,” he said, adding that the little details he has picked up from watching riding at that level have been insurmountable.
Sidelines: You competed at the 2011 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions in Gladstone on your horse Lord Albert, what was that like?
DB: It was my first time there and it was such a wonderful experience. I felt very honored to be in a class of incredible horses and riders, some of the best in the world. In our Prix St. Georges class we were both a little tense and nervous and ended up 13th with a 67.3%. In the Intermediaire I class we ended up 6th with a 69.47%, which was thrilling. Places 1-5 included some soon-to-be world famous horses and the 2010 Intermediaire I Championship winner. We ended up 9th overall in the Intermediaire I Championships and couldn’t be happier with our first trip there.
Sidelines: You had great support getting to Gladstone, who helped you?
DB: There were many fundraising parties for us, in addition to some very generous donations from a few of our clients, and that helped get us to Gladstone. We were surrounded by such loving and generous people, it really was amazing. It was such a huge relief to be able to concentrate on my riding with Albert and stay focused on that.
Sidelines: How did you become partners with Lord Albert?
DB: Lord Albert is a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding who was imported to be a breeding stallion when he was four, but proved to be too difficult and naughty for his owner and anyone else for that matter. He was brought to Arroyo Del Mar in hopes that he could find a partner but was too unruly there as well. They suggested I come try him and right away I had a connection with him. We rode a lot of bucks together but somehow always seemed to pull it together for the show ring.
Sidelines: When did you and Lord Albert really connect?
DB: In 2007, Albert and I won the West Coast Regional FEI Five-Year-Old Championships and qualified for the Young Horse Breeding World Championships in Verden, Germany. We had only been together for about six months at that time and he had one more test for me before we really connected. The day we arrived at the show grounds, Albert took off with me while I was hand walking him and I ended up breaking my collarbone and dislocating my shoulder. I knew it was what he did to “win” and get his riders to give up on him. I knew if I gave up on him during that show our partnership would never happen so I rode him the following day. We ended up ranked in the middle of the class and both went home with a new respect for one another. Albert just seems to get better and better every year and I plan on showing him at the grand prix level next season. Albert is now the most reliable and the sweetest horse I have in the barn. We understand each other and have a great relationship built on mutual respect.
Sidelines: What is it like having your wife as your business partner?
DB: Having my wife run my business with me by my side is the most recent highlight of my career. She has been instrumental in my success and it makes me feel blessed every day to have here in my life. Andrea and I knew each other in high school but never dated. We went our separate ways after we graduated and met up again 10 years later. She has a twin sister who married my best friend from high school in the Bahamas in 2006. We reunited on the island and have been together every day since. Andrea had never been around horses until we started dating and it wasn’t until we moved into Arroyo Del Mar that she actually worked with them. She was my groom for the first six months at Arroyo. It was a sink or swim type of situation and she did great. We now have a groom and an assistant so she can concentrate on what she is really good at, which is marketing and sales. I’m very lucky to have her working side by side with me; I know not many riders have that.
-By Jan Westmark-Allan