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Akiko Yamazaki, who owns Steffen Peter’s Olympic


horse Ravel, also owns an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood Grand Prix competitor named Kranak. After competing Kranak for several years, Akiko had made the decision to retire him. Jennifer’s mother, Nancy Baker, had trained Steffen’s wife Shannon Peters many years before. The connection was made and Jennifer flew to California to see and ride Kranak. “He was just amazing. Everything he did—passage,


pirouette, tempi changes—all of it was perfect. I wish I could make him Horse of the Year. He’s the epitome of a schoolmaster,” she says. Akiko agreed to loan


Kranak to Jennifer and her dream of competing at the World Equestrian Games was back on track. She had eight weeks to get to know her new competitive partner— now her third mount to get her to the WEG. Just one week


after Kranak arrived in Cincinatti, Jennifer took him to a show, competing at MSEDA Dressage at the Park 2 in Batavia, Ohio. The pair did well, scoring 72.75% with their freestyle. At the same time, Jennifer was coordinating a fundraising effort for her WEG dreams, hoping she would have the funds in place to be able to make the trip. “It was just a really rocky, up and down road,” she reports.


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SUPPORT LEADS TO SUCCESS Finally, her WEG dream was realized. On October 7, the pair competed in the Grade IV Individual Championship finals. They scored 64.839%, which earned them an equal ninth place finish with fellow American Susan Treabess. The Games themselves, Jennifer says, were both


thrilling and exhausting. “It was a great opportunity to be there and to meet other U.S. equestrians. The whole atmosphere at the Games was very powerful,” she explains. “Going down the center line for the first time was simply incredible. I had made it! I was very proud of what we accomplished. I felt so lucky to be able to ride Kranak —he was absolutely perfect. Going down the center line for the last time was a little sad, knowing this experience


Above (and top of opening pages): Jennifer Baker and Kranak competing at the WEG. Photos © Lauren Giannini/PMG


Warmbloods Today 45


was ending,” she says. Jennifer is at a loss for words when she tries to describe


the experience of competing at the Games in detail. But one moment, during her freestyle performance, stands out. “In my freestyle, my lengthening is done coming down the center line to a halt. It felt like we were just flying! And everyone was there, cheering me on. I was able to get tickets for all the people on my volunteer committee—they worked so hard to help me get to the Games. They had seats behind the judge and they were cheering. It was just an amazing moment,” she says. “There are so many people I want to thank for their help,” she continues. “Shannon Peters, Akiko, my mom, Joanne Gerson, Janet Harms and all the volunteers who supported me and my fundraising efforts, plus all the people who contributed—thank you!” Two days after the


Games, Kranak flew home to California to return to his recently interrupted retirement. Once again, Jennifer found herself a rider without a horse. Despite that, she is optimistic planning for her next challenge. “Now I need to find myself a horse and a sponsor if I hope to continue,” she says. “Right after the Games, I wasn’t


sure about looking at the 2012 Olympics. But I’ve always pursued my dreams. So now I’m focusing my energy on London in 2012!” “At the World Equestrian Games, we paras were


acknowledged more than we have in the past,” Jennifer continues. “It was really great to be competing at the same place as the able bodied riders and it gave us a chance to show what we can do! Now we need to continue to build awareness of our program—and also our needs. In Europe, able-bodied riders hand down their well-trained horses to the para-riders. That doesn’t happen as much here and I hope we can build awareness of that option.” “In addition to my own competitive goals, I want to


help promote the USPEA,” this determined rider says. “As a group, our future is bright. So many people have been inspired to help us and we are so grateful. Now we just want to get better and better!”


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