Weihegold Retirement, New Era For Isball Werth, Greatest Equestrian Competitor

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Isabell Werth acknowledging standing ovation as she rides Weihegold OLD out of the arena after the mare’s last competition, the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle in Leipzig, Germany. © 2022 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LEIPZIG, Germany, April 12, 202–At the age of 52, Isabell Werth dismisses suggestions of retirement from the sport in which she has become the most decorated equestrian in history and ranked 16th of all time and all athletes with 12 Olympic medals, seven gold, five silver.

With the retirements of both Bella Rose and Weihegold OLD, her top mounts over the past eight years and persistent questions from the media and rumors amplified by social media, the future of Isabell has been a frequent hot topic.

In an interviw at the World Cup Final here with dressage-news.com, Isabell made it clear she ain’t going anywhere from a sport she has written and re-written the history books and clearly plans to add a new chapter.

With what she describes as “really, really talented and potential horses” acquired by Isabell, her long time sponsor Madeleine Winter-Schultze along with Helgstrand Dressage, “It is quite exciting to see the next years.

“First of all I plan to build up horses for the next 10 years, as long as I can stay healthy and can do it.

“How long I compete will depend on how competitive I am, how good the horses are.”

For those thinking about filling her stirrups at the top of dressage, Isabell has three relatively young and talented horses she is preparing to compete as well as the 12-year-old DSP Quantaz owned by Victoria Max-Theurer and on which Isabell has become one of four horses on which she is a member of the 80% club at Grand Prix, and Superb, 10-year-old Hanoverian mare.

Isabell Werth on DSP Quantaz. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The next championship on the calendar is the world championships at Herning, Denmark in August with both Quantaz and Superb as German team prospects .

The World Cup in Omaha next April is also a goal, as it is for many of the world’s top riders who rated the 2017 debut Final as one of the best ever and which began the magical climb of Weihegold and Isabell to the pair’s triple championships.

“Omaha was fantastic,” she said of 2017. “It is a goal next year. I remember a lot of steak houses there…”

Isabell said she swaps training with Sweden’s three-time Olympian Patrik Kittel, based in Germany with Lyndal Oatley, his wife who rides for Australia and ranks second for her nation on Elive and third on Eros behind her cousin Kristy Oatley on Du Soleil.

Three horses Isabell has in her pipeline “are really, really talented and potential horses. It is quite exciting to see the next years.”

The horses, all bought from Helgstrand Dressage, are:

—Joshua–an eight-year-old that Isabell bought two years ago and owns with Helgstrand Dressage that she describesnas “outstanding” and plans to compete at Small Tour this year;

–So Unique, seven-year-old Rheinlander stallion (Sezuan x Donnerhall) bought by Madeleine Winter-Schultze, and

–Majestic Taonga, a five-year-old stallion by Toto Jr.  Majestic was premium stallion at the 2020 KWPN Stallion Licensing. Majestic is co-owned by Madeleine and Helgstrand.

Isabell said that she physically feels “really well.”

“As along as I feel like this,” she said, flexing her muscles  “I can can make my eight horses (a day), it’s good.”

She means by that she tries to keep her riding to eight horses because, she said, after that “it becomes really work in the sense that you lose a bit of your concentration.”

For the record:

From her first championships, the Europeans in 1989, Isabell has been a phenomenon with success and longevity like few others in any sport. On Gigolo, team golds and individual gold and two silvers in Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000. Antony followed with European Championship success. Satchmo became her top mount from 2003 though did not become a medalist until 2006 with team and individual gold at the World Equestrian Games and team gold and individual silver at the 2008 Olympics. In the same period, Warum Nicht won the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2007. Although competitive on El Santo and Don Johnson, until 2014 there was a drought of Olympic and worlds championship medals.

Bella Rose, at just 10 years old, changed that, leading Germany to team gold and second individually to Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro at the Tokyo Games team gold and individual silver.

Olympic team gold and individual silver on Weihegold in 2016, a sweep of all three golds at the Europeans in 2017, the World Cup Final in Omaha in 2017 beginning a three-year run before an historic fourth straight title was stymied by Covid-19. A healed Bella Rose was back in 2019 to sweep three golds at the 2019 Europeans then at the Tokyo Games for team gold and individual silver.