2008 Olympic U.S. Dressage Team Bios

Meet the 2008 Olympic U.S. Dressage Team: Debbie McDonald, Steffen Peters, Courtney King-Dye and traveling alternate Michael Barisone.

Debbie McDonald

Steffen Peters

Courtney King-Dye

Michael Barisone (traveling alternate)

Debbie McDonald

Born: August 27, 1954

Home: Hailey, Idaho

Horse: Brentina (15-year-old Hanoverian mare; owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas)

Debbie McDonald and Brentina | © 2008 by Nancy Jaffer

A true Olympic success story at a mere 50 years young, Debbie McDonald set out to bring home a team medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics–a goal she saw through to the finish when she was an integral part of the Team USA Olympic bronze medal effort. McDonald again proved her mettle with legendary partner Brentina with team bronze at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

McDonald comes by dressage naturally, though it wasn’t how she started her riding career. She’s a former hunter/jumper rider who switched to dressage some 15 years ago after a riding accident, a misfortune that turned out to be a blessing for the United States. Her prowess has earned her a first among American dressage riders–the title of World Cup Champion in 2003–an honor she shares with Brentina. McDonald’s score of 78.89% in the Grand Prix Freestyle earned the combination the coveted title of World Cup Dressage Champion. In June of that year, McDonald was an integral part of the U.S. team finishing second in the Team competition at CDIO Aachen, where she also placed third individually. At the 2005 World Cup in Las Vegas, McDonald and Brentina had one of their most memorable moments, placing third overall on home turf, receiving a standing ovation from a packed house. In 2005, Brentina was named the inaugural 2005 Farnam®/ Platform™ USEF Horse of the Year.

McDonald’s accomplishments are many, including wins at both the 2005 and 2004 U.S. Grand Prix Freestyle/Championship/U.S. League Finals, 2003 Bayer Festival of Champions, U.S. Equestrian Team Grand Prix Championship, a Team Silver medal at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Spain, and both Individual and Team Gold medals at the 1999 Pan American Games. She was named Equestrian of the Year by the American Horse Shows Association (now the USEF) in 1999, as well as the 1999 United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year.

McDonald and her husband make their home in Idaho, where she trains for competition and coaches young riders. She and husband, Bob, have one son.

Steffen Peters

Born: September 18, 1964

Residence: San Diego, Calif.

Horse: Ravel (10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; owned by Akiko Yamazaki)

Steffen Peters | © 2008 by Nancy Jaffer

Ravel has been invincible this year–winning in every outing of the early 2008 season. Beginning with the CDI-W Burbank, where Ravel picked up two Grand Prix wins, and continuing at the CDI3* Del Mar, and CDI3* Burbank, he has a total of six Grand Prix victories through June. Though still relatively inexperienced, the gelding has demonstrated he is ready to shine on the world stage. Peters and Ravel swept all four classes (two Grand Prix, one Grand Prix Special and one musical freestyle) to win the 2008 U.S. National Dressage Championship.

Peters won his first Olympic medal, a Team Bronze, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics aboard Udon. At the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Peters and Floriano stepped up to the plate and were crucial in capturing the Team Bronze medal.

Born in Germany, Peters has been in the United States since 1985 and became a United States citizen in 1992. Peters and his wife, Shannon Barnes, operate a training facility in the San Diego area. Barns is also a noted dressage rider, competing at the 2005 National Intermediate I Dressage Championship in Gladstone, N.J., where the couple went head-to-head. Peters and Barnes finished one-two respectively.

Courtney King-Dye

Born: November 20, 1977

Residence: New Milford, Conn.

Harmony’s Mythilus (14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; owned by Harmony Amateur Sports Foundation and Leslie Malone)

Courtney King-Dye has spent the last year walking a defined line toward qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games. After gaining the necessary European exposure in Germany for two months, King-Dye came to Florida to compete for a spot at selection trials. Not only did she qualify for the selection trials, she was also chosen to represent the U.S. in the 2008 FEI World Cup Final held in Holland.

Courtney King-Dye | © 2008 by Nancy Jaffer

King-Dye had a banner year in 2007. In April, King-Dye and Idocus (who can be used as a substitute for Harmony’s Mythilus at the Games) represented the U.S. for the first time at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas finishing sixth against 30 of the best riders in the world. Later in June, the pair was second overall at the USEF/Collecting Gaits Farm Festival of Champions. They went to Germany over the summer and tested their skills against the world’s best.

Also in 2007 at Dressage at Devon, King-Dye entered 11 classes on five horses ranging from Fourth Level to Grand Prix, finishing first five times, second four times and third two times, and also earned the FEI High Score of the show with a 71.250%.

Based at two-time Olympian Lendon Gray’s Sunnyfield Farm in Bedford, N.Y., King-Dye was named to the USET Olympic Long List in 2000, and in 2004 she was named to the USEF High-Performance Developing Riders List. King-Dye is a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Gold medalist and a USDF Certified Instructor through Fourth level. King-Dye is a 2004 graduate of Columbia University in New York and holds a bachelor’s degree in literature.

A native of Michigan, King-Dye has been riding since she was nine years old. At age 15, she became a working student for Gray. She competed in the 1998 North American Young Riders Championships and by 1999, with a string of horses to show for clients, King-Dye became a force to be reckoned with in the competition ring.

King-Dye’s dressage education includes six years as Assistant Trainer to Gray, and in 2007 she supplemented that with a month in California training with U.S Olympian Steffen Peters and two months in Germany training with U.S dressage team coach Klaus Balkenhol.

Along with Idocus, who at 18 is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, King-Dye has another star in Harmony’s Mythilus who has proved very promising and is confirming himself as a worthy sidekick to the classy veteran. In the 2007 season, they performed spectacularly at the Intermediaire I and Prix St. Georges levels, and upon moving up to the Grand Prix level in the summer they returned home with the blue in all their outings except one. They finished third in the 2008 U.S. National Dressage Championship.

Michael Barisone (traveling alternate)

Born: August 17, 1964

Residence: Califon, N.J.

Horse: Neruda (13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; owned by Jane Suwalsky)

Michael Barisone | © 2008 by Nancy Jaffer

Barisone and Neruda solidified their place in the international dressage ranks in 2006 with two Grand Prix wins in Florida, then they traveled to Europe and gained valuable international experience against some of the world’s best. They returned to the U.S. and won the CDI3* Del Mar in April 2008. They were sixth overall at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions in June. The pair had excellent finishes at the Saugerties CDI3* and at Dressage at Devon during the summer of 2007.

Barisone was a member of the 1999 USET Developing Rider Tour, and earned a Team Silver medal at the Nations’ Cup in Hickstead, England. In 1997, he earned a Team Gold medal aboard Comanche at the CDIO Hickstead in England, the first time the U.S. had ever won a dressage Nations’ Cup, and finished a strong second in the Grand Prix Special behind teammate Susan Blinks.

Barisone is a U.S. Dressage Federation (USDF) Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist. He is also a former winner of the USDF Junior/Young Rider awards at the First and Fourth levels.

Barisone owns and trains at The Barisone Barn in Loxahatchee, Fla.

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