Since competing in Aachen, we had the German Championships (Münster) where I took Hannes (Warum Nicht), my second horse after Satchmo, to compete. He did very well, winning twice. Then a week later, Satchmo competed in Cappeln. Unfortunately, we made too many mistakes in the grand prix, but we had a good grand prix special which was very encouraging.
I won’t be competing again now until WEG, but from the 12–15 September we will have our last team training session, and on 16 September the horses will fly out to Kentucky via Cincinnati.
This will be a really important week for me as I have to decide which horse (Satchmo or Hannes) I’ll take to Kentucky. It’s quite exciting as both horses are in great shape, although to be honest, Hannes is more consistent at the moment. It’s a wonderful luxury to have, as they were so good in Aachen, but it will be a difficult decision to make.
I have never competed in Kentucky before, but I am excited as I have heard so many positive stories about the facilities and the big showground there. However, I have previously competed in the USA, in Las Vegas and Wellington (Florida), so it isn’t completely alien to me.
German dressage team gears up
The atmosphere in the team is really relaxed and the situation we have is interesting as we have two very young horses with less experience, and two new riders — Anabel Balkenhol and Christoph Koschel. Of course, Anabel and Christoph are not completely inexperienced, but this is the first time that they have made the German team so I’m sure it’s a proud moment for them. It’s a good mixture with Matthias (Alexander Rath) and me as the two experienced riders.
It’s also the first big championship for Anabel’s and Christoph’s horses (Dablino and Donnperignon), and to be fair, they probably need a bit more experience in order to compete successfully at the highest level. They both have potential so we just have to hope that the experienced horses (Satchmo or Hannes and Sterntaler-Unicef) will show them how to behave.
For the moment, everything has gone to plan and over the five or six days that we are all together, we will train, analyse our performances, as well as speak about our tactics and expectations for Kentucky. This year, I’m actually the oldest member of the team so I consider myself to be the ‘mother’.
Preparations for the horses
Hannes had a rest after the German Championships, which was then extended as he needed to get three more inoculations against the special flu in the States, and that took up quite a lot of time. At the moment we are trying to be totally focused on the finer details needed to prepare the horses for this event, especially the horses’ suppleness so that they will be as fit and relaxed as possible.
My horses are all good travellers and after they arrive in the USA on 16 September, they will spend about 72 hours in Cincinnati before travelling on to Kentucky. Then there will be about a week’s break before the competition begins.
Looking ahead beyond WEG
After WEG we fly back to Germany on 2 October, and once back that horse will have a well deserved rest. The challenge will be to bring the horse back fit and healthy, and they will then have the whole of October off. At this stage we will prepare them for competition towards the middle to end of November.
I, on the other hand, will continue to be very busy, but I love to compete, especially with so many horses. It’s so exciting for me to see how my young horses manage to deal with everything, and to ultimately see and help develop their talent.
While my WEG partner is resting, it will give me an opportunity to compete with my younger horses, El Santo and Don Johnson. This will be crucial for me to see how they are both progressing and to decide which horses will compete in which shows. The aim will be to expose both horses to the 9-10 year old classes and to see how they both react.
I am really looking forward to the 2010/11 FEI World Cup Dressage season and feel a lot stronger than I did last season. Satchmo will be 17-years-old so we will be looking for some nice competitions for him, but we are also aware that he won’t be the horse for the major competitions. Hannes will be 15-years-old — the best age to show dressage horses — so we will put a lot of emphasis on him. I think that there is an extra 2-3% more that he has to show so my personal challenge will be to realise that potential.
Isabell Werth, multiple Olympic Games gold medal winning dressage rider, is a Rolex equestrian sports testimonee