Holger Schmezer, German Dressage Coach, Dead at Age 65

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Riders and officials paying tribute to Holger Schmezer at the World Cup Final. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands, April 20–Holger Schmezer, the German dressage coach, died suddenly and unexpectedly in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands where he was present for the World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping.

The 65-year-old was found dead on Thursday in his hotel room. The cause of death was unknown. Holger is survived by his wife, Martha, and his six-year-old daughter, Olenka.

Holger Schmezer had accompanied Isabell Werth, Nadine Capellmann and Helen Langehanenberg to the World Cup.

The three riders and assistant coach, Johnny Hilberath, were deeply shocked at the news of the death of the national coach.

Helen, who was the top finishing of the Germans in the Grand Prix, said the riders were shocked and stayed up late Thursday night talking about their coach.

“We sat together last night, the whole German team,” she said. “It’s hard. We talked about what to do. We all had the same opinion that Holger would want us to ride. That was his life. That’s why he came here.”

Steffen Peters, the top U.S. dressage rider, offered his condolences to Holger’s family.

“I was very sad to hear about the passing of Holger Schmezer. I admired him for always complimenting a good performance in the dressage arena, even to non-German riders. Not only did the German federation loose a dressage icon, all of us did.”

German Federation President Breido Graf zu Rantzau said: “We cannot believe that Holger Schmezer is no longer with us. The dressage sport loses one of its most dedicated trainers and a straight-talking man who always wanted the best for dressage. We are very sad. Our deepest sympathy to his family.”

This was his last year as head coach. He planned to retire after the London Olympics to focus on training and judging.

He was born in 1947, the son of a naval officer in Bad Rappenau at Heidelberg, but grew up in Schleswig-Holstein Plön. At the age of 15, he took up Modern Pentathlon. He concentrated on horses and competed initially in jumping and eventing.

He trained in dressage with Willi Schultheis in Hamburg.

He scored over 100 wins in dressage class S to Intermediaire and numerous placings in Grand Prix. In 1996, he became national coach of the junior and young riders, four years later became before national coach of the senior squad.

The German Equestrian Federation awarded Holger the NF-decoration in gold.