Here we take a look back on 2021 and remember those top dressage horses who died or were retired this year...
Chagall (died March 2021)
Breeding: Contendro I x Graf Grannus
Rider: Isobel Wessels
Breeder: Hans J Twietmeyer
Owner: Isobel Wessels and Brigit Powell
Chagall enjoyed an illustrious career, competing at nine national championships, and winning 10 national titles including at inter I in 2012. He and FEI five-star judge Isobel competed at grand prix in Europe around Isobel’s judging commitments, as well as on the British circuit with much success. On Chagall’s final competitive outing, in December 2020, the pair scored 72% at grand prix.
“Chagall was the kindest, most sensitive horse – he was so big but so gentle with it and he always picked up on the mood; he sensed everything. He has touched so many people throughout his life – he just seems to throw a spell over anyone he came into contact with,” Isobel said.
Gentleman (died June 2021)
Breeding: by Gullit
Rider: Sir Lee Pearson
Owner: Lorna Harvey
Sir Lee Pearson claimed triple gold with Gentleman at three consecutive championships: the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, the 2009 Europeans and the 2010 World Equestrian Games. They were also a key part of the gold medal-winning British side at London 2012, where they added gold in the grade Ib team test, individual silver and freestyle bronze to their medal haul.
“He was quite a character,” Lee said. “ But as much as he was very sensitive to ride and train, he never let me down in the arena – he was one of those horses who would leave his opinions behind when we went in.
“He had an awful sense of humour. At a competition he would give the feeling that he could be naughty at any moment, when in fact he loved competing on the big stage and he never, ever let me down.”
Glock’s Zonik NOP (died July 2021)
Breeding: Blue Hors Zack x Romanov
Rider: Edward Gal and Hans-Peter Minderhoud
Breeder: Linette Jaeger
Owner: Glock Horse Performance Centre (GHPC)
Glock’s Zonik was Danish young horse champion as a four-year-old with Andreas Helgstrand, then competed at the World Breeding Championships as a five-year-old under Hans Peter Minderhoud, before Edward Gal took over the ride.
Edward and Zonik won the grand prix at Olympia in 2017 and in 2018 they finished eighth at the World Cup Final. They were selected for the Dutch team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA, where they finished seventh individually in both the grand prix and the special, and led the Netherlands to a fifth place team finish, and Tokyo Olympic qualification.
In 2019, they won team silver on home soil at the European Championships, and were also sixth in the grand prix freestyle, scoring 84.27%.
The GHPC described the stallion as “truly a king”.
Sandro Hit (died August 2021)
Breeding: Sandro Song x Ramino
Breeder: Reinhold Harder
Owner: Paul Schockemöhle
Sandro Hit can be credited as being behind a whole dynasty of modern dressage horses. He has more than 200 licensed sons, including top breeding stallions San Amour, San Remo and Sir Donnerhall I, and also has more than 490 daughters – including Poetin, the world champion and double Bundeschampion.
Among his offspring are top dressage medallists Showtime FRH (Dorothee Schneider), Salvino (Adrienne Lyle) and Sintano Van Hof Olympia (Gareth Hughes).
Sandro Hit was himself world champion and bundeschampion as a six-year-old under Ulf Möller. He was trained to grand prix, but stopped competing as a seven-year-old in order to focus on breeding.
Ramoneur 6 (died September 2021)
Breeding: Rohdiamant x Alabaster
Rider/Owner: Tanya Seymour
Ramoneur and Tanya made history at the Rio Olympics in 2016 when Tanya became the first dressage rider to represent South Africa at an Olympic Games. They also qualified and competed at the World Equestrian Games in 2014 and became the first South African combination to compete at the World Cup Final in 2019. Ramoneur qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 aged 19, and traveled to the Games, but was withdrawn after arrival when he was diagnosed with laminitis.
“He felt and looked amazing and loved competing more than anything,” said Tanya. “Anyone who knew him loved him; he was the most kind, loving and generous horse.”
Bayford Hall Daglaglio (died September 2021)
Breeding: Laurentianer x Potsdam
Rider: Dan Sheriff and Litta Sohi
Owner: Dan Sherriff
“Lawrence” won the six-year-old national title in 2005, and went on to be placed at the National Dressage Championships every year until his retirement aged 17.
The pair enjoyed much success competing on the European international grand prix circuit, with wins in Pompadour, Vierzon and Compiegne. They were also named as reserves for the London 2012 Olympics. Lawrence went on to be partnered internationally by Iran’s Litta Sohi for two seasons before his retirement.
“Lawrence was a horse who never failed to amuse and surprise. During our international tours the biggest worry was never the travel or the competition, it was the trot-ups. He was known for escaping during a trot-up and was lost both in Saumur and Hickstead due to his high-stepping, rearing and stallion antics. So we led the way in using a double bridle and always wearing a hard hat in a trot-up years before it was the norm,” said Dan.
“He was a superstar to me. At one point we were in the top 30 of the world rankings.”
Lambrusco III (died November 2021)
Breeding: Uniform x Plesman
Riders: Deb Criddle, Ricky Balshaw, Anne Dunham, Jo Pitt, Rory Williams, Sophie Christiansen, Mari Durward-Akhurst, Susanna Wade, Michael Murphy, Alex Sutton and more
Owner: Di Redfern
This legendary grey gelding launched the careers of multiple top para dressage riders. It was with the late Jo Pitt that he won his first championship medal, a silver at the 2005 Europeans, before going on to win double gold and individual silver with Sophie Christiansen at the 2008 Beijing Games in Hong Kong. He spent many years as a schoolmaster at South Bucks RDA, taking numerous riders to national championships and international shows.
“If a horse could define para dressage, it would be Lambrusco,” said Sophie, who also won team and individual gold with “Brusco” at the 2009 Europeans. “He was a noble, regal horse and in any given situation, he simply assessed it and coped,” added Clive Milkins, who was stable manager and head coach at South Bucks RDA for 21 years.
Freeman (died November 2021)
Breeding: Foundation x Ehrnestolz
Rider: Hannah Biggs
Owners: Hannah Biggs and Laura Johnson
After making his name as a serious future prospect by winning the six-year-old young horse national title in 2019, Freeman twice finished third at the Winter Dressage Championships at medium level, as well as being regional champion.
“He was like a Ferrari without brakes – the most powerful thing I’ve ridden and I’ll miss that feeling terribly,” said Hannah Biggs. “Slowly we built up a bond where he trusted me and learned to control his power.”
Rufus Al Asad (retired in April 2021)
“Rufus” was a consistent performer at top level since making his international grand prix debut in early 2015. He and Lara amassed countless top placings at the highest level of the sport, and there were British team reserves for three consecutive championships: the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2017 European Championships and the 2018 World Equestrian Games.
“Rufus is so special in so many ways. You don’t find many horses who truly give their all in the arena with you, but he would always put in that extra oomph for me,” Lara said. “He was the first horse I trained up to grand prix – and he exceeded all expectations after coming back from a serious back injury as a young horse. He really taught me how to ride a sharp horse, as well as how to have patience.”
Vancouver K (retired in June 2021)
Breeding: Jazz x Ferro
Rider: Judy Reynolds
Breeder: G.M. Korver
Owners: Joe and Kathleen Reynolds
With “JP”, Judy became the first Irish rider to qualify for an Olympic dressage final, when the pair qualified for the freestyle and finished 18th at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They also represented Ireland at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Caen and the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam, where they once again made history by leading the quartet that would secure Ireland’s first ever team qualification for an Olympic Games. They also finished fifth in the freestyle with a career best score of 85.89%.
The pair were regulars on the winter World Cup circuit, qualifying for the final in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Their best result was in Omaha in 2017, where they finished fourth.
“He is a very intelligent horse so the early work didn’t satisfy him,” Judy said. “It left him with far too much brain not engaged that could think of all these other wild things to be doing. But at the same time he like to understand what he is doing and feels much more secure if he knows the way in a test.”
Super Nova II (retired in August 2021)
Breeding: De Niro x Weltmeyer
Rider: Spencer Wilton
Breeder: Eve Kirby
Owner: Jen Goodman
Spencer and the British-bred gelding were stalwarts of the British team, competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the European Championships in 2017 and the World Equestrian Games in 2018. Having won Olympic team silver, they finished fourth with the team and sixth individually at the Europeans in Gothenburg the following year, before winning team bronze at WEG.
In 2020, his final year of competition, Super Nova (aka Neville) scored double wins at both Lier CDI and Keysoe CDI.
“Neville has been my horse of a lifetime and has given his owner Jen Goodman and myself the most amazing journey with memories that will stay with us forever,” said Spencer. “It’s been a blast!”
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