Ulla Salzgeber’s Herzruf’s Erbe Better Than Feared – May be Out for Three Months

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The right hind foot of Herzruf's Erbe being led out of the competition arena. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The right hind leg of Herzruf's Erbe being led out of the competition arena. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

AACHEN, Germany, July 7–Herzruf’s Erbe, Ulla Salzgeber’s top prospect for Germany’s sputtering dressage team who went lame on his right hind leg as entered the competition arena in Aachen, now appears from a veterinary diagnosis that he could be out of work for about three months.

The initial fear after Saturday’s incident was the “Herzi,” as the 10-year-old chestnut gelding is nicknamed, could be out of competition for up to one year.

During the Grand Prix Special CDIO last Saturday, the horse pulled up as Salzgeber started an extended trot around the arena in front of the judge’s booth at “B.” The nearly full stadium that has a capacity of 5,000 spectators started to clap and Herzruf’s Erbe appeared startled and faltered momentarily.

Salzgeber, an Olympic and World Cup veteran, immediately halted and looked at the horse’s right hind leg.

Ulla Salzgeber looking at Herzruf's right hind leg. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Ulla Salzgeber looking at Herzruf Erbe's right hind leg. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

She dismounted, summoned the British judge Stephen Clarke who was in the booth at “B.” He quickly inspected the leg and Salzgeber then led “Herzi,” as she calls the horse, out of the arena.

Salzgeber reported on her web site Tuesday that a detailed examination found that the “Beugesehne,” or deep flexor tendon “is overstretched… the convalescence for such an injury amounts normally no longer than three months!”

“To me there falls a stone from my heart!,” she said. “‘Herzi’ is all right again, but I will wait anyway for the OK from Dr. (Walter) Brehm and then bit by bit rebuild. If it lasts longer than three months, I will give him this time anyway. ‘Herzi’ should return absolutely fit in the tournament sport and I will not entertain any compromises!”

Salzgeber disclosed the initial diagnoses as a severe “Sehnenzerrung,” or bowed tendon. She immediately withdrew her mare, Wakana, from the Grand Prix Freestyle at Aachen and went home.

The pair placed 15th in the Grand Prix on Friday, but have enjoyed considerable success at Grand Prix in the past 18 months including the recent German national championships.

The injury to Herzruf’s Erbe only about seven weeks before the European Championships at Windsor, England was another blow to German supremacy in the sport.

The top German rider and international superstar, Isabell Werth, was suspended on the eve of the Aachen CHIO where she has been the dominant force for years after a banned medicinal substance was found in her small tour horse, Whisper. She admitted that the small trace that was found was the residue of a drug that had been administered to the horse more than two weeks before a competition by her veterinarian to ease the effects of “shivers.”

The suspension of Werth and injury to Herzruf’s Erbe leaves Bonaparte, ridden by Werth’s 2008 Olympic team mate Heike Kemmer, as Germany’s top horse. However, the horse is 16 years old.

Matthias Alexander Rath has been successful on Sterntaler-Unicef, a 14-year-old gelding, but the talented rider is young and relatively inexperienced at the top levels of the sport.