Brentina, America’s Sweetheart, Olympic, World Championship Medalist Ridden by Debbie McDonald, Euthanized at the Age of 31

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Debbie McDonald retiring Brentina in 2009. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

April 22, 2021

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Brentina, the mare that became America’s sweetheart when ridden by Debbie McDonald in two Olympics, two world championships and the first United States World Cup champion, has been euthanized at the age of 31 after the horse had difficulty standing.

Debbie McDonald, the U.S. team coach, was “devastated” at having to make the decision about Brentina who had been retired at In the Irons Farm in Santa Barbara, a California Pacific coast city about 90 miles/145 km north of Los Angeles. (A look back at Brentina’s life will be posted later Thursday).

Debbie said: “This horse meant everything to me. Through the support of the Thomas family, and training from my mentor Klaus a Balkenhol, Brentina became my partner and really MADE my career in dressage.  And look what adventures we had!

“We went, literally, all over the world. I’m so proud of Brentina and how she contributed to putting American dressage horses on the international map. She earned the R-E-S-P-E-C-T that she deserved!

“After retirement, she lived in California where she was cared for like the queen that she was. She lived a wonderful life.  But today, at age 31, it became clear that her time had come.

“Our goal was always to make sure she never, ever suffered.  So, as hard as this is for all of us who loved her, we knew our only job was to make sure she was always comfortable and happy. It was the least we could do for a horse that did so much for us.

“She won’t have to worry about being on a diet any more, and have all the bananas she wants.”

Debbie named several other people who had played a significant role in Brentina’s life–Theresa Englehart, her groom in early years; long time groom, Ruben Palomara; Dr. Rick Mitchell, former veterinarian who continued caring for Brentina after retirement, and Dr. Kirsti Timm, the veterinarian who took care of Brentina in retirement.

Brentina was a Hanoverian mare (Brentano II x Lungau) bred by Wilhelm Rethorst in Germany.

Correction: An earlier version inadvertently did not include the title Dr. for Kirsti Timm as a veterinarian.