Akiko Yamazaki Takes the Reins as Both Rider and Owner in Wellington

© Emma Miller: Akiko Yamazaki and Chopin R
Akiko Yamazaki and Chopin R

Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 21, 2017 – Famous for sponsoring Olympic bronze medalist Steffen Peters, Akiko Yamazaki of Woodside, California, has made waves in the world of international dressage as a performance horse owner. This year, however, Yamazaki is stepping into Wellington’s competitive arena herself with the goal of showing at a higher level.

“Coming to Florida has been on my bucket list,” Yamazaki said. “I’ve been here as a sponsor for Steffen a few times starting with Ravel, Legolas, Rosie [Rosamunde] and now Bailarino, and I felt it would be so fun to be here as a rider myself.

© Emma Miller: Akiko Yamazaki and Chopin R
Akiko Yamazaki and Chopin R

“I have been able to compete at the US Dressage Finals Nationals in Kentucky twice now with Donavan so I’ve had some experience with putting a horse on a plane and competing,” Yamazaki explained. “Coming to Florida in this environment is a totally different story, so I’m so glad that I realized it.”

Yamazaki competed in Adequan Global Dressage Festival’s (AGDF) Week Six national level show with her two horses, Chopin R and Donavan, yielding exciting results. Aboard Chopin R, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding, she won both of her FEI Intermediate 1 classes with scores of 66.447 percent and 71.184 percent.

“This was only his second Intermediate 1 test with me,” Yamazaki said. “I’ve had him since he was almost 7 — we’ve developed together. This was my first ride and it was decent, so I’m very happy about that and the horse. He can be quite hot. He just got here on Tuesday, so for him to just go in there and do what he did, I’m very happy with that.”

© Emma Miller: Akiko Yamazaki and Donavan
Akiko Yamazaki and Donavan

Yamazaki rode her 9-year-old KWPN gelding Donavan to success in their FEI Prix St. Georges tests, placing second with a 69.474 percent and first with a 69.605 percent on their second day of competition.

“Donavan is a very balanced horse,” Yamazaki explained. “Especially for his age, he has a very beautiful, natural trot. He’s a really steady-eddy kind of horse and nothing bothers him much, so when I go in there I can totally focus on the test and just riding it.”

© Emma Miller: Akiko Yamazaki and Donavan
Akiko Yamazaki and Donavan

In addition to competing, Yamazaki is also in Wellington to support Peters as a horse owner and sponsor. Rosamunde, a 10-year-old Rheinlander mare, and Bailarino, a 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding, have both yielded great results with Peters thus far in the CDI arena.

“My partnership with Steffen goes a long way back,” Yamazaki explained. “How I got to know him was I bought a horse through him — that horse was 7 years old and this year he is turning 24.

“As a rider, I have a lot of respect for him,” Yamazaki explained about Peters. “I really felt like we could continue to have horses and we could continue to showcase his riding, which is so beautiful. He was of course a huge asset for Team USA, and it’s been an honor to be able to sponsor him with multiple horses.”

Following the 2016 Rio Olympics, Yamazaki stated that her next goal with Peters is to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals in Omaha, Nebraska. As far as her own riding with Chopin R and Donavan, Yamazaki is aiming to compete in more prestigious CDI competitions in the future.

© Annan Hepner: Steffen Peters and Rosamunde
Steffen Peters and Rosamunde

“As long as the horse is talented, Steffen is one of those riders that can bring out the very best in them,” Yamazaki said. “It’s been a great partnership, for all of us. It’s not just Steffen, of course — it’s the whole team. We really feel like we don’t have to say much to each other, we just know how the team works.

“I’m hoping sometime in the near future when we get confirmed in the Prix St. Georges and the Intermediate 1, I can start riding a bit in CDIs myself,” Yamazaki continued. “I don’t have any major championships that I’m aiming for, but step-by-step I want to be able to ride at a higher level. If I can start coming more to Florida and next year do some CDIs, that would be a great goal.”

Outside of the world of dressage, Yamazaki is married to co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! Inc., Jerry Yang, and has two daughters. She also serves as chairman of the board of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California.

“The museum just celebrated 50 years,” she explained. “It’s a pretty old institution — it’s a great asset for the city and has around 18,000 objects spanning 6,000 years from 19 regions in Asia.”

Yamazaki and her husband also own Four Winds Farm in Woodside, California. Ravel, Peters’ mount in the 2012 London Olympics, World Equestrian Games and numerous other international competitions, is happily retired there and enjoying a life of leisure.

“Ravel is doing great!” Yamazaki said. “He’s turning 19 this year and he’s still the king of the barn.”

© Emma Miller: Akiko Yamazaki and Chopin R
Akiko Yamazaki and Chopin R

© Emma Miller: Akiko Yamazaki and Donavan
Akiko Yamazaki and Donavan

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