Changing of the Guard in Dressage? We’ll See! Laughs Isabell Werth

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Isabell Werth on DSP Quantaz at world championships in Herning, Denmark. © 2022 Ken Braddick/

Aug. 23, 2022


When Isabell Werth arrived home from the world championships with a single bronze medal that the buzz showed a change f the guard at the top of the sport, she told her young horses there was a challenge to be met and not for the first time.

Since her first medal-winning championships, the Europeans in 1989, Isabell has experienced only four years in which she has not earned a medal of any color at either the Olympics, world or European championships and the World Cup Final. The last time that happened was a decade ago, the year of the London Olympics. This year, she earned bronze medals at the World Cup Final before the German took bronze at the world championships in Herning, Denmark. Many riders, including Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour, 30, who led Denmark to team gold on Vamos Amigos and Charlotte “Lottie” Fry, 26, on her individual and freestyle medal mount Glamourdale noted the youthfulness of the those on the medals podiums, that included the Netherlands’ Dinja van Liere, 32, on Hermes. And the representative of the FEI–the International Equestrian Federation that hosted the championships–shared that feeling at the post-competition news conferences.

At the age of 52, twice that of Lottie Fry, Isabell said a team needs at least one combination that can score 80-plus percent. Germany didn’t have that–world No. 1 Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB did not compete as the rider is nine months pregnant. Bella Rose and Weihegold OLD, the two horses on which Isabell was at the top of the world rankings for most of four years from the 2016 Olympics to Tokyo, were both retired earlier this year. Showtime that Dorothee Schneider rode for team gold at the Olympics in 2016 and in Tokyo was not fit for Herning.

As the most successful equestrian in history–a total of 42 golds, 14 silvers and seven bronzes, seven gold and five silvers at the Olympics alone–she knows a thing or two about the sport.

“I take it with humor,” Isabell told of the buzz about the “changing of the guard.” “We could see at these championships they all cook with water.

“I went home and the next day with the young ones I said: ‘ Come on boys and girls, there’s a challenge’!

“This is what I love to do. We’ll see what happens.

“I have had so many ‘changes of the guard’ in my life, in 35 years I don’t know how many. I’m still there so we’ll see what happens.”

Three horses Isabell has in the pipeline, she said, “are really, really talented” and potential for top sport.horses.

The horses, all bought from Helgstrand Dressage, are:

—Joshua–an eight-year-old KWPN (Sezuan x Voice) that Isabell describes as “outstanding” and plans to compete at Small Tour this year;

–So Unique, seven-year-old Rheinlander stallion (Sezuan x Donnerhall), and

–Majestic Taonga, a five-year-old stallion by Toto Jr.  Majestic was premium stallion at the 2020 KWPN stallion licensing.

The Europeans a year from now may be a “big challenge” for Joshua or So Unique, she said, “but I’ll try it.”