Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider, Sönke Rothenberger, Tina Bröring-Sprehe

Olympic Gold for German Dressage Team

No medal was such a sure thing for the German riders like for the dressage team – and they still had to be alert. After the Grand Prix the Germans only led 2 percent ahead of the British and so it was clear that they couldn’t make any mistakes in case the British team showed top performances. But the German dressage riders withstood the pressure. Germany won with 81,936 percent ahead of Great Britain with 78,595 percent, who won their second Olympic medal after their gold medal in 2012. The USA won bronze (76,667 percent).

By winning her sixth gold medal (she won the first one 20 years ago in Atlanta), Isabell Werth now is the most successful rider in the history of the Olympic Games. But she didn’t think about that: “First and foremost I’m very proud of my mare, not proud because of the statistics. And I’m proud to have won with this team. I can’t remember a team that is able to get 80 percent with all four horses.” However, the team’s joy was overshadowed by the car accident of the canoe slalom trainer Stefan Henze, who got critically injured. But it was no question that all four team members were proud.

Sönke Rothenberger’s 76,261 percent were the deleted score, even though this would have been a welcome result in any other team. His Olympic debut with KWPN gelding Cosmo by Van Gogh was extremely convincing. “From today on the world knows what a great horse Cosmo is,” Rothenberger said. “Today I would have liked to perform even better,  but I think we showed everyone that we deserve to be here. I’m still amazed by the beginning…” However, Sönke Rothenberger also had reason to be concerned: when his groom led Cosmo to the awards ceremony the horse hit the groom’s head. A short time later Rothenberger gave a cautious all-clear: “Robby is in hospital for a check, but everything looks good.”

The second German rider in the Special was Dorothee Schneider with Hanoverian gelding Showtime by Sandro Hit. They showed the Special at its best and only lost some points in the second piaffe. They grew beyond themselves and earned third place in this competition with their unbelievable 82,619 percent. “It’s excellent what the horse and I achieved here.” However, she also said that the pressure had been immense. “Everybody who says that there’s no pressure concerning the team ranking is simply lying.” Like in the Grand Prix Showtime was focused the whole time. “If a horse of vast talent, good riding and such a performance come together in such a difficult competition then I’m moved. If that wasn’t the case than I wouldn’t be myself.”

When Showtime halted during the pirouette “I had an adrenaline shock,” so Schneider, “but apart from that it was an unbelievable feeling, especially on the closing line.” That she’s now able to compete for an individual medal makes her speechless: “I knew that the horse was great, we have such a good symbiosis, but I never would have thought that he’d get better in the Special …. I just wanted to qualify for the Freestyle. Now we’ll simply relax and look forward to the Freestyle. I’m already looking forward to it. He likes it.”

Tina Bröring-Spreh and Hanoverian stallion Desperados by De Niro finished the Special with 81,401 percent in fourth place. They didn’t make any mistakes but the lightness was missing, the rider remarked: “He was so “on” that the returns were a bit difficult. He worked himself up.” Bröring-Sprehe didn’t really know the reason for this behaviour. However,she also felt the pressure: “If you’re so close to gold you don’t want to mess up.” Her goal for the Freestyle on Monday is clear: “I want to improve!”

The last German rider to compete was Isabell Werth with Weihegold OLD. The Oldenburger Don Schufro daughter delivered a perfect performance and finished the competition in first place. Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, who had a glitch in the trot half pass and the two-times flying changes still were placed second with 83,025 percent. Dujardin’s coach Carl Hester said jokingly:”We’ll bring Charlotte to Christ, he will forgive all her sins.” Werth is already sure about one thing: “I don’t think that the two of them will make mistakes on Monday. But we’re all really close, it’s going to be very exciting. If Weihegold performs like today then it is impossible to think of the outcome.”