The 19-year-old gelding, who has been Anna’s faithful companion in competitions around the world since 2012, gets his well-deserved retirement
In fact, Donnperignon, who is called Pepe, came to Kasprzak Dressage in Autumn 2011 in order to accompany Anna to the European Championships in 2013 in Herning. But Andreas Helgstrand, Annas's coach, believed that they could as well try to qualify for the Olympics the following year. And so, the equality found a common melody so fast that after a ten-month partnership they were taken to ride the world's biggest dressage scene, namely to the London Olympics in August 2012. Here, Anna and Pepe performed a memorable first ride in soaking rain.
"That ride stands out for me. It was my first ride at the Olympic Games, and the rain was pouring down on us from the moment, we entered the arena. At that moment I thought that this should not ruin it for us, and luckily Pepe carried on without tipping an ear. So even though it was not very fun when we performing in the pouring rain, it's a great memory to have and think back on. And I also think other people remember us for that particular ride," Anna says about the experience at the London Olympics 2012.
In addition to the 2012 Olympics, Pepe has followed Anna to five other international championships: the European Championship in Herning in 2013, the FEI World Equestrian Games in France in 2014, the European Championship in Aachen in 2015, the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and the European Championship in Gothenburg in 2017. In addition, they have won the Danish Championship 2013 and 2015. And as a competition horse, Pepe is a character for herself, says Anna.
"Pepe is always aware when he attends an event. At home in the stable he is not so much of a talker, he would rather just relax for himself and he is happy if he has water, food and hay. But during competitions he is so awake and I'm always sure he enjoys it. He has always been great to travel with, regardless of it being on long flights to Qatar and Brazil or many hours in the truck around Europe,” Anna says.
Traveling around the world to enter competitions is not something you do alone, and there is one person in particular that has meant a lot for Anna and Pepe's success together. Jane Kallestrup, Annas groom, has faithfully followed Anna and Pepe to all international and national competitions over the years.
"I owe Jane so much. She has been a very important part for me and Pepe's partnership, and there is no doubt that Jane and Pepe have a very special relationship. For example, when Jane was weaving his mane before a competition, and she would suddenly leave him alone in the box for a few minutes because Pepe had signaled to her with a nod that he just has to pee before she can continue. And all the years I've had Pepe, Jane has driven Pepe to the blacksmith every time he needed it. She has a huge share in our success, because I've always been able to concentrate on what I should because I knew Jane had 100 percent control of everything around Pepe," Anna tells about her groom who fortunately continue to to follow Anna to competitions in the future, even though Pepe won’t be joining anymore.
In future the younger generation of competition horses who counts Rock Star, Quarton, Romanova and Patrik will be in position for hopefully many more international and national successes in the arena and while there is an exciting future awaiting, it will also be a different task for Anna.
"Pepe has always made me feel safe because I know him so well. The same security is still under construction with my other horses, and it's an exciting time and something I'm looking forward to have with them, but with Pepe, I knew that he would always go to the arena and do his very best for me. Pepe was the one who showed me the way, but now I'm the one who leads the younger and more unutilized horses, and I'll have to get used to that. But I hope that I get a lot of good results with the new ones as well, though I will definitely miss Pepe when we go to the big events. But fortunately he is still in the stable at home for hopefully many years to come," Anna says.
Andreas Helgstrand, who coaches Anna, also had a significant impact in Anna and Pepe’s success together.
"I owe Andreas a huge thank you as well because he has always believed in us. When we bought Pepe, he was the one who said that I could just as well try to qualify for the Olympics. He said, "It may not be realistic to you, but there is no harm in trying!" And I thought that if he says it can be done, it might be possible. Him believing in Pepe and I has given me great confidence and has pushed us further,” Anna says.
At home at the stables, Pepe's retirement will continue to include riding and going to the paddock which he enjoys a lot.
"Pepe's body and mind still enjoy activity, so as long as we can ride him, we will. Fortunately he is still healthy and strong, so he'll keep getting some good walks," Anna says.
19-year-old Pepe's last tour in the limelight will be during the show Saturday evening at the World Cup in Herning on October 20th. And even though it is a held partner, Anna now retires, she is also determined that Pepe no longer will enter competitions.
"I've always said that no results should decide when he's not going to ride competitions anymore. He has met all requirements, expectations and wishes. When we bought him, I hoped that he could teach me a lot, but I had not imagined that we should achieve that much together. He has been a great partner and I owe him the best retirement."