German Olympic dressage horse Farbenfroh was put down on Monday 20 December after he broke the top of his femur (the bone running between the stifle and pelvis).

Farbenfroh had been coming round from the anaesthetic following a routine operation to his forelegs when he fell while trying to stand up in the recovery box. He fractured the piece of bone that links the femur to the ball and socket joint in the hip (the femoral neck).

“It is very sad that this wonderful horse died,” says Uta Helkenberg of the German Equestrian Federation. “He was one of the most famous horses in Germany. He was a champion and we are all very sad about his demise. He was only 14 years old so his career shouldn’t have ended this way.”

Known for his unpredictable temperament, the Westfalian gelding had long been the top mount of dressage world champion Nadine Capellmann, with whom he won the individual and team gold medals at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, in 2002.

Capellmann and Farbenfroh also landed the team gold and individual bronze medal at the 2001 European Championships in Verden, Germany, and were part of the team which won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Farbenfroh pulled a tendon after the 2002 World Equestrian Games and never made a full recovery. Although he returned to competition arenas early in 2004, he fell short of his previous performances.

Nevertheless, Capellmann was distraught at the death of her horse. “I am endlessly sad,” she told HHO. “Farbenfroh was an outstanding horse in many different ways: his look, his unique talent, his unbelievable adorable stubborness. I will miss him badly.”