Olympic gold dressage horse rescued from major blaze as others perish

Several horses have been killed in a devastating fire that ripped through the stable yard of elite German dressage family, the Rothenbergers, in the early hours of this morning (28 February).

The Gestut Erlenhof dressage yard in Bad Homburg, home to international riders Sven and Gonnelien Rothenberger and their children Sönke, Sanneke and Semmieke, has suffered enormous damage, with the fire destroying the entire 50x50m indoor school as well as other buildings, including a stable block. Many horses were released to safety in the nearby forest, but some could not be saved.

“It is already clear that we have lost a large part of our life’s work: our riding hall, our stable, several young horses and retired horses,” said the family, who also confirmed that Sanneke is currently being treated in hospital for smoke inhalation, but “is doing so well”. It has been reported that two further people have been injured in the fire.

The Rothenbergers also confirmed that Sönke’s world, European and Olympic gold medallist, the 12-year-old Van Gogh gelding Cosmo, is among those horses who have been saved.

“Sönke was able to bring Cosmo into the barn of the Krause family and also save Goldi [Golden Girl]. Several other horses are injured,” stated the family.

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Sven, Gonnelien and 19-year-old Semmieke were away competing at the Lier CDI in Belgium, where Semmieke won the young rider team test with Dissertation on Wednesday. They have returned to the yard this morning. Sönke, 24, and Sanneke, 26, who were at home, had became aware of the fire when their dog started barking, and the fire brigade quickly attended the scene. The cause of the fire is not yet known. 

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