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‘His artful horsemanship will continue to inspire’: Farewell to Dr Bechtolsheimer

The renowned trainer and rider Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer has died, aged 71.

The father of top British dressage rider and Olympic gold medallist Laura Tomlinson, who himself rode on the British team at the 1995 European Championships, passed away on Wednesday (8 April).

“It is with great sadness and profound regret that we say goodbye to our husband, father, grandfather, trainer, mentor and friend,” his family said in a statement.

Dr Bechtolsheimer is survived by his wife Ursula; his children Felix, who is married to Geraldine, Götz, who is married to Alida, Till who is married to Julia and Laura who is married to Mark; and grandchildren Annalisa, Amélie,Wilfred, Lukas and Hanni.

“His deep passion for our sport and his love of all creatures, but horses in particular, were at the heart of his artful horsemanship which touched so many of us and will continue to inspire,” his family said.

An intimate funeral for the family will be held on 11 April in Ascona, Switzerland. Details of a memorial service in Gloucestershire, home to the Bechtolscheimer family home and yard, will be announced later in the year.

Laura Tomlinson, with her husband Mark and parents Wilfried and Ursula Bechtolsheimer

“Dr B”, as he is affectionately known within the dressage world, was born in Germany but moved from Mainz to Ampney St Peter, Glos, with his family in 1986 when daughter Laura was a baby. He later switched his nationality to British.

The Bechtolsheimers are well known for having trained and mentored Carl Hester early in his career. Riding the Bechtolsheimers’ Giorgione, an Oldenburg licensed stallion (Grundstein I x Perser xx), Carl became the youngest British rider to ever compete in an Olympics, when he went to the Barcelona Games in 1992.

Dr B later took over the rider on Giorgione, representing Britain at the 1995 European Championships in Mondorf, Luxumberg, riding on the team alongside Jennie Loriston-Clarke, Joanna Jackson and Ferdi Eilberg. He and Giorgione were also selected as team reserves for the Atlanta Olympics the following year.

From 2006 to 2007 Dr B served on the Board of British Dressage as a director, stepping down so he could dedicate more of his time to training daughter Laura and travelling with her to shows. He trained Laura and the family-owned Mistral Hojris to win team gold and individual bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, and has continued to play a major role in Laura’s training and career since, as well as that of Lara Butler, who was selected as reserve for the British team in 2016, 2017 and 2018 with the Bechtolsheimers’ Rubin Al Asad.

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