Ulla Salzgeber Returns to CDI Arena for 1st Time in 3 Years with Liberté

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Ulla Salzgeber and Liberté.

June 21, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Ulla Salzgeber, whose partnership with Rusty dominated dressage at the beginning of this century, is returning to the international dressage arena this week for the first time in three years on a horse she found by “accident” and has competed only three times so far.

Ulla will ride Liberté, eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding, at small tour at Mariakalnok, Hungary, the first CDI since mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic brought much of the world to a halt, including horse sports.

For Ulla, it will be her first international competition since competing Sir Simon NRW at Mannheim, Germany in May 2017 after which she declared she was going to focus on training and coaching.

Now 61 years old, the former German team rider said she found Liberté by “accident.”

“It was very good luck and I fell in love at once,” she said. “It will be his third show in his life and… we will see.

“For sure he has the potential for big tour. He is good enough but very ‘green’. I am happy to ride him every day and going to show him. Time will tell us how it will work.”

She is not thinking about the future, but enjoying the time “NOW.”

Ulla and Rusty, a Latvian warmblood gelding, were among the most successful partnerships in the modern history of the sport, becoming the top German combination after the retirement of Gigolo that had been competed by Isabell Werth.

Ulla Salzgeber and Rusty at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The record: team gold at both the Sydney 2000 and 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as individual silver at Athens and bronze in Sydney. Team gold at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome and again in 2002 in Jerez, Spain, along with a total of four individual bronzes. Team gold at the 1997, 1999 and 2001, 2003 European Championships, individual gold in 2001 and 2003 and silver in 1999.

The duo was World Cup champion in 2001 and 2002 and was placed first in 2003 but disqualified when the horse was found to have been doped. Debbie McDonald on Brentina was awarded the title, the first American to capture the annual world championship.

Ulla was ranked world No. 1 for years at a time when only the riders were ranked.

Since the retirement of Rusty after the 2004 Olympics, Ulla competed Wall Street, Herzruf’s Erbe that she competed at the 2011 World Cup Final, Wakana and Sir Simon. She was also coach of the Australian team in 2005/2006.