byNina Fedrizzi| Apr 1, 2017
Published April 1, 2017
As Germany’s Isabell Werth turned toward the centerline near the midway point of her test in the Freestyle World Cup Final, some of the more than 8,500 spectators and photographers in the stands were treated to an unexpected surprise: a big, broad smile. Though many riders may have worried about jinxing the remainder of their ride, Isabell—comfortably seated on her 2016 Olympic medal-winning mare, Weihegold OLD—had no such qualms. She had the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in the bag, and she knew it.
“Today, I felt it was our day in the competition,” Isabell said. “To go [on] to then end with this music, and with the passage where you can really celebrate [Weihegold]. I was really enjoying the ride and it was just fun. I was happy to go to the last centerline because I know how great she can be there, and she did it and today it was really just perfect.”
Despite a strong showing (including a Freestyle score of 85.307%), even crowd-favorite Laura Graves had to hand the win to the World #1. “I’m very competitive—I know I said it Thursday, but we [tried] to give it a run for the money,” Laura said. “I was a little disappointed to know that I had come in second, but it’s true… coming second to Isabell, who’s number one in the world, and has done this on so many horses, still feels an awful lot like winning.”
If her smile is any indication, it’s clear Isabell—who plans to try and qualify Weihegold for the European Championships this year—couldn’t be happier with her World Cup performance or her talented mare.
Here are a dozen things you might not know about this indomitable duo:
1. Isabell and Weihegold OLD are currently ranked number one in the world. Last year, the won Team Gold and Individual Silver at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
2. Werth has a total of 10 Olympic medals, a record for an equestrian athlete. Her collection currently houses six gold medals and four silver, and she has won a gold medal in every Olympic Games she’s attended.
3. Weihegold OLD is a 12-year-old Oldenburg and the daughter of Andreas Helgstrand’s Blue Hors Don Schufro, who himself has won World Cup qualifiers.
4. Weihegold has been competing at the five-star level since 2016. Her first competition at that level was at the CDI-W Amsterdam, where she and Isabell finished 6th in the Grand Prix and won the Freestyle.
5. The last Werth won the World Cup Final was also in the United States 10 years ago in Las Vegas. The first World Cup Final Isabell won was 25 years ago. “It may be a good reason to keep on going 10 more years!” she joked. “It’s a great situation to be here again.”
6. Isabell shares her champagne. During the prize giving at the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, she gave the other podium riders and all the grooms a sip. (Laura Graves’ Verdades tried to take a taste too!)
7. Previously, the rider’s Freestyle record was 90.09%, which she earned at the FEI World Cup of Lyon. Her score today—90.704%—takes over her personal best.
8. Werth studied law and after working as a lawyer in the marketing department of one of her sponsors, she moved to a stable near Hamburg, Germany. In 2002, she set up her own dressage training stable at her family home in Rheinberg, Germany.
9. Isabell has her own merchandise empire—relatively speaking. She assisted in the development of the Bates Isabell Dressage Saddle, which is sold worldwide. She also developed her own sportswear collection that specializes in riding clothes, and was even featured in a computer game called ‘Isabell Werth: Equestrian’!
10. Werth began riding at age five on her parents’ farm in Rheinberg in Western Germany, initially concentrating on showjumping and eventing.
11. At age 17, Isabell began training with Uwe Schulten-Baumer, a dressage coach and the father of one of her friends. When Schulten-Baumer asked if she wanted to try riding one of his dressage horses, Isabell took him up on it, she’s been hooked on the sport ever since.
11. Weihegold and Isabell are also the 2016 German Champions. In total, Isabell has won seven World Championship titles, 13 medals at the European Championships, and 14 German Championship titles.
-Photos by Erin Gilmore. Additional reporting by Yasmina Bello.