Steffen Peters Clinic | February 6, 2021

We were beyond lucky to host the four-time Olympian, three-time USEF Horseman of the Year and one of my absolute favorite riders to watch in person. We had a fantastic day learning from the best and it’s safe to say that our expectations of ourselves are firmly elevated. We’re all still basking in the glow of the enlightenment . Where do I even begin?

Let’s start with expectations.

If you’re enthusiastic enough to watch a full clinic with any trainer, you’ll generally notice that there is a common message that applies to every ride, no matter the level. With Steffen, it was undoubtedly that our expectations need to be elevated.

When I say that he elevates your expectations of yourself and your horse, I mean it in the truest sense. He was by far the most exacting coach I’ve ever ridden with. He didn’t expect us to be perfect, but he expected us to keep trying until we got it perfect. He said, “if you accept less than perfect, you will continually get less than perfect.”

An almost-perfect transition is not perfect, so try again. There was no bark to this demand, simply the fact that we should all expect more than we were. He was e x a c t i n g.

In the best way possible. He forced us to refine aids, transitions, movements, that we didn’t even realize could be refined to that level. Each rider expressed to me that his standards were eye opening. Our ‘good enough’ has flown right out the window. He mentioned more than once that the horse might break or show confusion multiple times, that is the actual training moment. Don’t be afraid of the mistakes, use them to train. Eventually they will realize, ‘oh ok, she’s going to be a stickler about this’ and rise to the standard we have set. He said, “it’s all in your expectations and your standards, how you expect them to listen to your aids.” For me, it was that I was continually asking for forward whereas I should ask for forward and expect the horse to continue without constantly nagging. For another rider, he reminded her not to carry the horse when he was heavy or long. He said, “I absolutely refuse to push him every stride.” Show him what you expect and tell him to keep it there. Set your intention and have high expectations for the response. When you don’t get the exact right response, try again, don’t accept almost-right.

“It’s all in your expectations and your standards, how you expect them to listen to your aids”

– Steffen Peters

Do you guys realize how much almost-right we all were accepting? I find it hard to explain how inspiring this new standard of expectation feels without it sounding like we want to be drill sergeants who suck the fun out of riding. Because that’s the opposite of what this feels like and what we intend. So here’s the thing… absolutely nailing it is SO MUCH FUN. It’s so fun to feel the difference in the perfect transition compared to the prior not-so-perfect transition. It’s SO fun to feel the difference in the perfect collected canter versus the really hard to maintain collected canter. There’s no ego, there’s no getting mad at the horses when they’re taking an easier way, it’s just the absolute dedication to nailing it. Every time. And being so proud and appreciative to the horse when you do. Hurrah.

We’ve all heard it before that every moment with horses you’re training, but he cemented it as he said to one rider, “every time you pick up the contact you’re training.” Every time, guys. He said, “we should teach our horses every single day. We should train them. Dressage at the end of the day is teaching.” He told us that they are entitled to their opinions, entitled to tell us that the work is hard or that they don’t understand, but they don’t need to argue about it. So we maintain consistent expectations for responses to aids and then the horse has clarity in our consistency.

He also reminded us regularly to ‘make a difference’ with the aids. He repeated to several riders that we should make a difference when we use the spur in particular, don’t just use it to maintain the movement. When one horse needed to move off the right leg and then had a very clear reaction when the right spur was applied well, he said, “make a difference with the right spur, yes! That to me is training!” A clear concise aid was given, and a clear concise answer was received. It was beautiful to see lightbulbs flicker all day.

The same thought about making a difference applied within the gaits as well. To one rider he said, “Never have the feeling that you’re struggling through a movement, make a difference.” Meaning, don’t just say this is hard for us, let’s just get through it. The point of this adventure is not to struggle through.

I was struck that for every pair, he worked with us to find what worked for that horse in particular. He told one rider, ‘we want to find for every horse the most appropriate frame where they say ‘here I can carry myself here I get a little bit lighter’. For my mount in particular, I hadn’t even realized how long he gets from the base of the neck. We are generally well connected in the bridle and seemingly through, but he was consistently wanting to stretch. Steffen told me that the stretch is (of course) a good thing at the right moment, but for this horse it’s where he wants to go constantly but it isn’t best for his body. We worked diligently to find a new balance where he can take weight off his forehand. As Steffen said, the horse as a creature is not designed to carry weight on the forehand. So if we teach them to carry behind, we’ll preserve them and do their bodies a service.

Expectations, it turns out, are everything. When I went from (what for me was a difficult to achieve) collected canter back out to medium, I kept encouraging him forward with my hand rather than keeping the neck up where it needed to be to keep him loaded behind. This very basic but difficult task brought everything full circle for me. Insert lightbulb here. If I’d had higher expectations of our level of forward from the beginning, it would have been lightyears easier to achieve a balanced forward out of the collection.

There is so much that I’m not touching on, but I can confidently say that all of our riders (and hopefully our auditors) all walked away from our day with Steffen with exceptionally raised expectations of ourselves and the clarity of our aids.

We had better do our homework because we’re insanely lucky to have Steffen returning to us for a half day on Saturday, February 20th! Somebody pinch me, I can’t believe our good fortune! We would love to invite friendly, socially distant, eager to learn auditors to join us again. Can’t wait to see you all soon!


Some of my quick notes:

  • Every time you pick up the contact you’re training.
  • To me it’s all about two things; the horse can either accept the bit and respect the bit or they spend the rest of their life working against the bit. They have to accept the leg aid seat aid and just as much they have to accept the rein aid. 
  • You don’t want to use the whip to punish him but you can use the whip a little bit the next time he goes against you when you pick up the rein.
  • Make a difference with the spur, don’t just use it to maintain the movement. 
  • We should teach our horses every single day. We should train them. Dressage at the end of the day is teaching. 
  • Never have the feeling that you’re struggling through a movement, make a difference. 
  • It’s all in your expectations and your standards, how you expect them to listen to your aids.
  • We want to find for every horse the most appropriate frame where they say ‘here I can carry myself here I get a little bit lighter’.
  • You can check in there, did my horse yield to the leg and yield to the rein? At the end of the day they should use their. muscles to carry themselves, not your muscles. Use your strength briefly to make a difference.
  • That needs to sink in, this giving in the top line (Proper connected halt walk transition) 
  • Stay on top of it. He’s entitled to an option about the contact but he doesn’t need to argue about it. 
  • A half halt in the most simplistic way needs to be totally understood and respected – in that order.
  • They have to understand the meaning of the half halt and the result of the half halt.
  • Make a difference with the right spur. Yes, that to me is training! 
  • They learn to offer the movement – if you have to force the rein back it’s always trouble. 
  • When you squeeze into the bridle he needs to respond.
  • When I have a horse that wants to dive a little, I do lots of transitions within the gait.
  • Don’t be too tough on yourself, if you give the right aid he should respond behind.

2021-02-20T12:55:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Steffen Peters returns to Copper Light!


About Steffen:

Memorably, at the Atlanta Olympic games, Steffen won team bronze on the U.S. Olympic team with his horse Udon purchased by his father as a three year old. In 2009, he rode Ravel to win 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. He earned both Individual and Team Bronze at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2010, also on Ravel. Steffen won Team and Individual Gold at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games (on Weltino’s Magic and Legolas 92, respectively).

Most recently, at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI4*, Steffen and Suppenkasper landed at the top of the leaderboard in both the Grand Prix and the Special, which he told Chronicle of the Horse is his favorite test with its “beautiful transitions from extended trot to passage.” For more information about Steffen and his training, please visit https://www.spetersdressage.com

Eat | Crockpot BBQ Chicken & Easy Coleslaw

Some days you just need something seriously easy to cook after a long day in the barn. Enter the world’s easiest Bbq chicken + the world’s easiest coleslaw. Add a little veggie and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat.

COLESLAW:

  • 1 16oz bag of premixed coleslaw
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a bowl, stir the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper together. Taste for acidity and seasoning then adjust as desired. In a larger bowl, add shredded cabbage and carrots. Pour dressing over and mix well.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken:

  • 2-3 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 jars of your favorite bbq sauce, I love Sonny’s golden
  • Hawaiian slider rolls

Ok are you ready for the easiest recipe ever? Plop chicken into crockpot. Pour jar of sauce over said chicken. Set to high and cook for three hours. Forget you were cooking and come back to house to yummmmyyyy scents wafting through the door. Transfer chicken to skillet, shred with fork, pour sauce over chicken to your moisture preference, cook for a few minutes until sauce caramelizes slightly. Serve on Hawaiian rolls with a dollop of coleslaw.

Cheers to Two Years

As our second year of calling Copper Light home comes to an end, we’re incredibly thankful for the lovely people and horses that have made the journey so fun. As any horse person knows, it’s not always roses. But somehow we’ve managed to find the most wonderful group of boarders a gal could ask for, and an incredible support team from vets to farriers. You all make this work life pretty special, and I thank you from the bottom of my horse-loving heart for being a part of the Copper Light family.

Can you spot your favorite pone in the gallery?

The first person who can name each horse in order wins a free lesson! Bonus points if you know the dogs’ names. Message your answer to @copperlightfarm or ride@copperlightfarm.com

Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season!

One of my very most favorite things about the holidays is the added bonus of supporting small businesses for gifting. It makes such a difference to local vendors and smaller brands, and is much more personal than that waffle iron on Amazon.

Rumor has it that shipping and production delays are going to be a bit of a bear this year, so we thought we would share some of our favorite finds from small and local businesses that we’ve personally added to the farm, gifted or received and LOVED. Perfect gifting awaits you! Fa la laaaaaa

We are not sponsored or receive any promotions from these brands other than Devoucoux, we just love these items!

Anything from SP Rhodes

I’ve had a long relationship with boutique branding firm SP Rhodes. They’ve helped with logo design, tack shop signage, saddle pads, awards, gifts, stall plates, barn signage and a full custom barn map dry erase board. I’ve been thrilled with every item we’ve received! 10/10 will order (lots) more.

shop now

Tack Room Studio Whip Rack

Customize with their barn name or a cute expression, it’s functional AND a daily reminder of how sweet you are! Tack Room Studio offers multiple sizes and stains, plus oodles of coordinating items like this saddle stand!

shop now

Anique Sun Shirts

It’s no secret that we love our Anique sun shirts. They’re just soooo cooozzyy. The fabric is so soft it doesn’t make sense, the colors are on trend and the cut is always flattering. If anyone is asking, I’m dying to add the ‘night’ color to my collection!

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Milk & Honeybell Bakery Cookies

(Or anything else they make for that matter) Part of our client gifts last year included these phenomenal cookies from local small baker milk & honeybell. They’re SO GOOD. We’ve also sampled some pastries and sourdough and have yet to be let down. Ordering available from Tuesdays on, follow their Instagram for the best updates.

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Kingfour Faux Antler Rack

So in round two of barn updates, I wanted a fun bridle cleaning station hanger for the south barn. I bought one of these faux antler racks as a test and loved it so much I got a second one for our home. The house rack is bronze (which is decidedly my favorite) and this one in the barn is black with rose gold tips, which is also pretty and many colors are available. It’s so simple, but so unexpected and fun! What’s life without a little whimsy?

Shown here with a custom saddle rack by Saddle Stackers holding a Devoucoux Biarritz Lab

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Devoucoux Bridle

Have you ever met an equestrian who wouldn’t be thrilled with the gift of tack? We thought not. We’re absolutely over the moon with our Devoucoux saddles and gear and can highly recommend their quality and comfort. Next on this rider’s wishlist is a blingy Harmonie bridle to match my saddle bling, but they also come in hunter, figure eight and other models. So much to love.

If you have any Devoucoux questions, reach out to Lindsey or Teigan and we’ll put you in touch with our wonderful rep Chloe!

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Highland Design Co Raised Dog Feeder

I like to think that our danes appreciate the elegance of their new custom stained water bowl, but if they don’t – I sure do! The seller was kind enough to customize the height, stain in their signature blend and adjust from the standard (and more chic) porcelain bowls to more basic stainless steel bowls for my dogs. Love this!

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Custom Wood Slice Bridle Hooks

I knew EXACTLY what I wanted in the tack room for saddle and bridle storage, but not many people could see my vision. I’m pleased to say that both came out better than I had imagined! This Etsy vendor kindly made samples and customized the bridle hooks to my specifications. I’m happy every time I see them.

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Fairfax & Favor Belts and Boots

I became an instant fan the first time I laid eyes on a pair of Fairfax & Favor boots jogging in a trot up. It’s no secret that we Floridians don’t get often get to enjoy the type of fall layering that normally comes with suede boots, but fret not! They also have super cute ankle boots, drivers, belts and an amazing bag collection.

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The gift of experience….

Lessons

Who doesn’t love a riding lesson?! If you said you don’t, you might be in the wrong place, ‘cause around here we like to learn! The gift of a lesson with a good coach is such a wonderful treat. Some of our local favorites:

Teigan Mercer

Pam Sbarra

Claudia Tarlov

Meghan Michaels

Jackie Kinney

Photos

I’ve found that nearly all equestrians want riding or barn photos, but decidedly fewer are comfortable splurging on the experience. Why not take the guess work out of it for your favorite equestrian? A few photogs that we love:

Nicole Schultz / Boss Mare Media

Lauren Pitylak Fine Art

Erica Hills Photography

A Blanketing Guide for Floridians

As the temperature (and humidity) drops, you may have noticed your horse looking a little fluffier than usual. Even though our South Florida winters are mild, the horses start to hold weight by fall in preparation for winter and we see hair coat development triggered by shorter day length and lower temperatures.

During chilly days, our horses’ hair stands up to trap and retain body heat as a clever built-in insulation. Unfortunately in Vero Beach, it is pretty common to have large swings in both the temperature and humidity within a single 24 hour period. A 20° temperature swing between day and night is typical. We find, particularly in October, that the horses have a hard time with the moody weather. ‘Chilly’ one day, back to humid and 90° the next. Not funny, Florida.

The swing in humidity in particular can really affect their ability to sweat and thermoregulate. Especially for an unclipped horse, this can mean that they’re comfortable overnight but can overheat during the day. For that reason, we recommend clipping as soon as your horse seems to be struggling with the weather or has bloomed a coat, and continuing to clip throughout the winter as necessary. Of course if he or she isn’t in work and can stay out of the peak sun, your furry friend might sail through this awkward season for Floridians.

If you have a dark horse or non-sweater, we’ve probably chatted with you and your vet team about supplementations that can help them acclimate to the humidity (One AC, Sweat More, Platinum Refresh, electrolytes), which we start in April and continue through October for horses with sweating issues.

When real winter hits, our horses smartly thermoregulate. The thermoneutral zone is the temperature range at which a horse maintains its body temperature with little to no energy expenditure. The lower critical temperature (LCT) for each horse is influenced by their hair coat, body condition, location, age, wetness and wind chill. Once the temperature drops below that LCT, their hair coat and normal calorie intake alone aren’t enough to keep them warm. The temperatures a horse is used to can impact his LCT, which is why horses in warmer climates often get blanketed at milder temps than horses in colder areas – we’re not just wimps! The LCT for most Floridian horses ranges between 30° and 50° Fahrenheit.

To help a horse maintain warmth in the winter you can do three main things;

  • Feed more // Good nutrition is key and it is important that your horse gets enough hay.  The fermentation of hay in the horse’s hindgut produces an incredible amount of heat.  Basically, they have a built in furnace that is fueled by hay.
  • Blanket // Help them insulate, stay dry and block wind
  • Don’t clip // Let them self-insulate

BLANKETING

The below chart is the general blanketing guidelines we use for our seaside pones. Keep in mind that each horse is unique and you need to modify for their individual comfort (and owner preferences), which we do here at the farm. Fritzy, for example, runs warm. He is a big bodied warmblood and prefers to be mostly naked until it’s about 45-50° and then he’ll let us put his PJs on. Conversely, we’ll make sure an older Thoroughbred mare who is a harder keeper is bundled up sooner than later so she doesn’t burn calories trying to self heat. If you’re not sure to blanket or not on a particular night because there is a big fluctuation in weather, keep this rule of thumb in mind; I find it generally healthier for horses to be a little chilly than to overheat preceding a temperature drop which then makes them get a chill from their damp coats.

Copper Light Farm Florida horse blanketing chart, blanketing temperature guide

We all seem to accumulate mountains of blankets but we really only request everyone to have two necessities – a turnout sheet (0g weight) and a turnout blanket (in a 100-250g range). The third recommendation in line of use is a stable sheet which can be worn on nights that require slight warmth or under the blanket to layer.

You are welcome to keep a more broad range of blankets here at the farm but with these two suggested blankies at a minimum, your horse will stay pretty cozy. As a note, I personally prefer turnouts so that they are multi-purpose and can be used in stall and also in when the horses are outside. For those that aren’t familiar; a turnout sheet or blanket is made with some level of waterproofing, whereas a stable sheet or blanket is not waterproof. Stable sheets are generally cotton and stable blankets are squishy snuggly fellows. Stablewear is easier to layer, but they retain moisture if they get wet and don’t block the wind as well. Their turnout counterparts are a touch heavier in the lightest ‘sheet’ version but the blankets are generally comparable in weight. There are a million blanket variations, layering options and other styles that I’m not covering here, so if you want to talk blankets don’t hesitate to reach out!

OTHER COZY DETAILS

In addition to blanketing on chilly nights, we also make sure every horse in the barn is well hayed. Remember that the hay fermenting in their guts is a prime source of heating.

We generally don’t believe in closing the stall windows against the air, ventilation is paramount to equine respiratory health, but we will close the barn doors if it’s going to be frosty.

If we’re experiencing one of our big temperature fluctuations, we might also either wet grain meals or make a meal into mash (regular grain + bran + oil + water) to encourage hydration and gut motility. Year round, our horses have access to salt so they are encouraged to drink.

We also keep our horses more hydrated with the use of steamed hay from our beloved Haygain hay steamer. Feeding steamed hay can increase water intake up to three times – that’s major! Read about Haygain here: https://www.haygain.us/ (not an ad, we just love them!)

If you’re a boarder and have questions, never hesitate to ask!
and also… if you’re not a boarder and have questions, never hesitate to ask!

We are happy to share our experiences and collective research with anyone who wants to dive into it. As with most things with horses, there are a million different opinions and approaches. Ours have been developed from experience and with the input of trusted veterinarians and professionals. But remember what works for us might need to be tweaked for your own horse. Cheers to a cozy season for all!