Trainer, Peridot Equestrian
Niki Clarke originally began her riding career as a Three-day Eventer. Early on, Niki trained with Three-Day Eventing greats Amy Barrington and David and Karen O’Connor. Her passion for horses and hard work ethic lead Niki to numerous Eventing accolades at a young age, including being long listed for the Sydney Olympics.
In 2004 Niki decided to make a career change and began her path up the ranks of the Dressage world. She moved to Holland to concentrate on her main love of Dressage, under the instruction of Bert Rutten. In 2005, Niki moved back across the pond to continue her dressage training in the U.S.
In 2006, Niki started Dressage Unlimited a full training barn with an emphasis on developing talented young horses for competition and sales.
Today, Niki is not only a highly respected FEI rider, her career accolades to date include USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medals, and a Centerline Scores 5* rated rider. She was Reserve Champion at the Brentina Cup in 2007, third place at the 2010 Brentina Cup, and multiple wins at multiple levels with a variety of horses throughout the FEI levels. In 2018, Niki was named to the USEF Dressage Development Program with Coral Reef Ranch’s Coral Reef Scoobidooh.
See a list of Niki’s accomplishments at USDF Scores.
In addition to her accomplishments as an FEI rider, Niki is equally passionate about her client’s success. Students enjoy her positive approach and love of the equestrian sport, complimenting Niki’s teaching and training abilities in producing success for numerous horses and riders.
Niki trains with Olympian Guenter Seidel in Rancho Santa Fe.
Trainer, Peridot Equestrian
Verena Sonstenes-Mahin of VS Dressage is one of our incredible trainers here at Peridot Equestrian. Verena's riding and training style/philosophy is the perfect fit for our facility and program, and we are so excited to have her here riding and training client and sale horses daily.
She has achieved her Bronze, Silver and Gold medals, and continues to compete at all levels.
In 2011 she coached two riders who qualified for the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Representing Puerto Rico, her students achieved one of the highest levels of competition in the Americas. And in 2018, Verena proudly coached Canadian Junior rider Chase Robertson to a Bronze and Gold medal at the NAJYC.
Verena trains with three time Olympian Juan Matute when he clinics in California and has since the early 2000’s. She began working with him after she met him in Madrid, Spain while she was still based in Europe. Verena also trains with Olympian Guenter Seidel on a regular basis in Rancho Santa Fe.
Verena has had the great privilege to train with Charlotte Dujardin both partaking in SH Productions Symposium in October 2016 and training with her privately whenever she is in California.
Verena loves teaching and regularly clinics all over the US, Puerto Rico and Canada. VS Dressage is a full service top-sport company that provides training through Grand Prix, clinics, purchase consultation and complete sales services.
Photo credit: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian
Trainer, Peridot Equestrian
We are thrilled to announce that the amazing and talented Dawn White-O'Connor has joined us at Peridot Equestrian as trainer! Dawn is one of the rising stars of our sport, and it is such an asset to Peridot to have her knowledge, experience and brilliance here every day.
Dawn, originally from a small town in Colorado, has worked for Steffen and Shannon Peters for over a decade. She began as a working student and groom, but has earned her way to great success in the competition arena.
In 2014, White-O’Connor placed 8th at the Festival of Champions in the Small Tour with Carla Hayes’ KWPN gelding Aristo.
At the age of 27, Dawn was given the opportunity to compete on Steffen's 2016 Olympic mount Legolas, owned by Four Winds Farms Akiko Yamazaki. In 2017, she competed Legolas in CDIs in both California and Wellington, Florida with great success. They won second place during the 2017 World Cup of Las Vegas, right behind Steffen Peters. A few months later they won the Grand Prix and the Special in San Juan Capistrano. They were then selected to represent the The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team in Grand Prix in Europe that summer.
It was with Legolas that Dawn was first invited onto the USEF Developing Rider list in 2017. Dawn competed Legolas until he was retired in April of 2018.
In 2018, Dawn competed on Four Winds Farms’ 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Bailarino (Breitling W—Schila, De Niro). The pair won the 2018 USDF National Developing Grand Prix Championship at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois. That same year, they were also selected as the demo Grand Prix pair for the Isabell Werth Clinic in Encinitas, CA. In 2019, White-O’Connor and Bailarino were selected for the USEF Developing Rider list.
Dawn has a large string of up-and-coming horses that she trains and competes on, and she is often at the top of the leader board at any CDI or national show.
To learn more about Dawn, check out her website here: https://www.dawnwhiteoconnor.com/
For information on Dawn's training or sales program, contact Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org
FEI Junior and Young Rider
Katherine (Kate) is the daughter and granddaughter of the owners of Peridot Equestrian, and is an up-and-coming youth rider in the US.
Kate is an experienced rider and competitor, riding for the first time at age 4. Her first lead line show was that same year, and her first walk/trot class was in 2011 at the age of 7.
She won the US National Championship in Sport Horse Show Hack at the Arabian/Half-Arabian Youth Nationals in 2015 at age 11, and she won many national top tens and many regional championships in Dressage, Training Level, Sport Horse Under Saddle, Sport Horse Show Hack, Hunter Pleasure and Hunt Seat Equitation in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
At the end of 2017, Kate was awarded with CDS Fourth Level Champion for the year on Roosevelt (Teddy), her 17.3h Bay Oldenburg gelding. She and Teddy were ranked as high as 5th on the on the FEI Dressage World Youth Ranking-J in the US that year.
She and her new approved Hanovarian black stallion, Soliere (Sandro Hit x Donnerhall), are competing this year in Young Riders, and are currently ranked 3rd in Region 7 and 10th in the US on the FEI Dressage World Youth Ranking-Y. With Soliere, Kate recently earned a 76% on her Young Rider Freestyle test. They recently competed at the North American Youth Championships in Old Salem Farm in New York and ended up 6th in North America for the Young Rider Individual test. They also just competed at the US Dressage Festival of Champions national championships in Lamplight, Illinois, and ended up 3rd in the Young Rider Freestyle and 4th overall in the US for Young Riders.
Kate and her gelding, Roosevelt (Teddy), competed this year in Juniors, and finished the season 2nd in Region 7 and 5th in the US on the FEI Dressage World Youth Ranking-J. They were on the nominated list for the Region 7 Juniors Team for the North American Youth Championships.
Kate trains with Olympian Guenter Seidel in Rancho Santa Fe.
Head Groom, Peridot Equestrian
We are so lucky to have Jorge as our groom for Peridot's horses. He has many years of top level international FEI grooming experience, having served as head groom for International Jumper, Karl Cook at Pomponio Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
Jorge has extensive travel and FEI grooming experience, having served as groom for Cook's horses as a park of Team USA at International competitions all over the world, including:
2017 World Cup
Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix 2018
Longines Masters Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping CSI5* 2016
2016 World Cup
Jorge is a critical part of the success of Peridot, and he is incredible at keeping our horses healthy, happy and show ready!
Vice President & Farm Manager, Peridot Equestrian
Jessica wears a lot of hats at Peridot: barn mom, farm manager, lawyer, HR director, cheerleader, decorator, event planner, graphic designer and branding fanatic, construction foreman and poop scooper. Some days, she just calls herself a Gladiator who champions this amazing barn family, the horses and our beautiful facility.
Jessica has been passionate about horses since she was 2 years old, and has been riding since her aunt bought her a horse when she was 8 years old and her parents were away on vacation.
She fell in love with Dressage in her 20s, but didn't really get the time to pursue it until her daughter, Kate, decided she loved it too. There are many days that Jessica thanks her lucky stars her daughter didn't prefer a different sport like soccer. It has given Jessica the chance to fully immerse herself into not only her own passion, but her daughter's.
Jessica is also an amateur rider, who dreams of showing at the FEI level and winning a national championship. For now, she is learning to ride her beloved mare, Gianna (nicknamed Shakira for the sway in her hips) and is loving every minute of being on a horse farm every day. It is a childhood dream come true.