A Q&A with Isabell Werth

As the world’s most successful dressage rider with seven World Championship titles, 10 World Cup medals, 10 Olympic medals, 17 medals at European Championships, and 14 German Championship titles, to name a few of her accomplishments, Isabell Werth’s name will be stamped into equestrian history forever.

Although she is now the most decorated rider in dressage history, Isabell started with humble beginnings. Follow along as we chat with her about how she got her start in dressage, how she has seen the sport evolve over the years, and where she sees it headed in the future.

Equine Journal: How did you get started riding dressage?
Isabell Werth: I grew up on my parents’ farm with different kinds of animals and, of course, horses. I started in our local riding school, which encouraged dressage, jumping, and eventing. I always enjoyed dressage the most.

EJ: What made you want to pursue dressage professionally?
IW: I was very lucky to be given the chance by Dr. Schulten-Baumer to ride his horses. There I learned to train horses. That changed everything for me and opened the door to international competition.

EJ: You’ve been in the industry for quite some time now, how has dressage changed over the years?
IW: I think the main difference is that the quality of the horses has become better. The breeding systems developed have really worked, and we see the results in the competition arena. The sport has also become much more global with riders coming from all over the world. The introduction of the Freestyle has made a big difference making dressage more interesting and attractive for people who don’t understand the intricacies of the movements.

EJ: What about the sport has remained the same over the years?
IW: The testing of the basic paces beside the exercises is still the most important factor in dressage. The art of being able to present the horse, to show how attractive and beautiful he is, and to show his full quality, is still the aim of what we try to do.

EJ: What is your most memorable moment of your professional career so far?
IW: I have had many memorable moments during my career. The ones that really stand out for me are the [1996] Olympic Games in Atlanta with Gigolo, the World Championships in Aachen with Satchmo, and [the 2016 Olympic Games in] Rio De Janeiro with Weihegold.

EJ: Do you have a favorite event to attend? Why?
IW: Aachen is a very special competition. The atmosphere cannot be topped.

EJ: What is your favorite post-competition ritual?
IW: Post-competition: Analysis. Pre-competition: Concentration in the stables.

EJ: Are there are prospective horses that we should keep an eye out for?
IW: I am very excited about all of my young horses! However, I hope that Belantis, Quintus, and Super B will all become top horses.

EJ: Who do you think are the up-and-coming riders to watch out for?
IW: There are a few really talented young riders. We will see who will succeed!

EJ: What is it like being the top dressage rider in the world?
IW: To be honest I really don’t see it like that. I get up every morning and look forward to riding my horses! I am happy to have the best job I possibly could have!

EJ: What advice do you have for aspiring dressage riders?
IW: Believe in your horses and never give up. Try to find the right key to each of your horses.

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