Ravel

Photo courtesy of Shannon Brinkman/USEF Archive
(1998 – )
Owned by Four Winds Farm and Akiko Yamazaki
Inducted: 2013
Ravel stands alone as the most accomplished American Dressage horse of his time. At every major event, the American team looked to Ravel to lead the way, and at every major event, Ravel came through. With rider Steffen Peters, Ravel broke new ground in individual competitions as well, igniting hopes that American dressage horses could keep pace with the rapidly-improving Europeans.

Originally slated to make his Grand Prix debut in 2007, Ravel incurred a severe leg injury that sidelined him for months, making some wonder whether his career had ended before it even began. But once he made it to the show ring, he never looked back. From his victory in his first Grand Prix competition in 2008 until his retirement in 2012, Ravel racked up win after win against top horses from around the globe, developing a close partnership with Peters along the way.

"Steffen and Ravel were a match made in heaven," said Akiko Yamazaki, Ravel's owner. "Steffen's way of riding really suited Ravel. When you saw them together, it was a true partnership, based on mutual respect. It was not that they were only technically correct, but there was artistry in their performances."

Ravel took first place in every Grand Prix he entered in 2008, including the Collecting Gaits Farm/United States Equestrian Federation Grand Prix Championship, and went on to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in Beijing. At his first international competition, he anchored the U.S. team effort while finishing just a notch off the individual podium in fourth.

Ravel's remarkable success in his first year of Grand Prix competition was a harbinger of things to come. 2009 saw him defeat Europe's best in a sensational victory at the Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas. Multiple Olympic gold medalists Anky van Grunsven, of the Netherlands, and Isabell Werth, of Germany, had to settle for second and third behind Peters and the magnificent Ravel, who joined Debbie McDonald and Brentina as the only American winners of the World Cup.

But Ravel didn't stop after taking down the best European horses and riders on his home turf. He headed to Germany for the CHIO Aachen, where he again faced top competition and again was unstoppable. He rolled to victory in the Grand Prix by a full five percentage points and went on to sweep the Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle. At the close of his 2009 season, the United States Equestrian Federation recognized him as Horse of the Year. He also earned the first of three consecutive titles as Adequan/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Grand Prix Horse of the Year.

Yamazaki credits Ravel's intelligence and competitive drive as key components of his performances. "What made him so successful in my mind is not only his athleticism, but the fact that he was a competitor in the true sense of the word," Yamazaki said. "He always seemed to know when he had to put his game face on and he always delivered."

After their breakthrough 2009 season, Ravel and Peters had set a high standard, but they refused to cave under the pressure. The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, gave them another chance to make the U.S. proud, and they outdid themselves. The pair put in consistently brilliant tests to earn double individual bronze medals, the only individual dressage medals ever claimed by Americans at the WEG.

In 2011 and 2012, Peters and Ravel pulled off back-to-back victories at the World Dressage Masters CDI5* Palm Beach. Ravel took on World Cup champion and WEG gold medalist Totilas at CHIO Aachen in 2011, finishing second by a narrow margin. He also repeated his 2009 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Grand Prix Championship, sweeping all three classes to win by over six percentage points.

In the 2012 Olympic Games, he pulled off a sixth place in the Grand Prix and a seventh place in the Grand Prix Special, making it possible for the US team to advance to the second round of team competition. While he was inexplicably not at his best for the individual competition, finishing 17th in the Grand Prix Freestyle, he was the highest-placed American finisher against the top horses in the world. After the Olympics, Ravel retired to Yamazaki's Four Winds Farm in Woodside, California. Yamazaki rides him and takes him for trail rides, and Peters visits on a monthly basis.

"In an era when the Europeans went through a talent explosion and the scores soared through the roof, Ravel and Steffen were able to keep up because of their discipline, intelligence and beautiful partnership," Yamazaki said. "I believe that it was encouraging for the U.S. dressage community to have a horse and rider combination that could keep up with and sometimes win against Europe's best. I believe it lifted everyone's spirits. We could all feel proud of them."