Linked to every success, is a deep down fall that affects every sports champion and is a major part of the career of a true athlete, who enjoyed the benefits of stardom for a short period in his life. Double Olympic champion Nicole Uphoff experienced the cruelty of her waning stardom after the retirement of her top partner Rembrandt in 1997. Anky van Grunsven has not yet found a substitute horse that has the same greatness as her Oldenburg gelding Bonfire, and German Isabell Werth struggles for renewed success. She tried out Anthony and Aleppo, and although the former horse put her back into the top ten world rankings, Anthony was never able to even remotely resemble stall mate Gigolo.
It is said that every great horseman will only experience success with one horse. Reiner Klimke is probably the sole rider to date who became the number one in the world with two different horses, Ahlerich and Dux. Reiner Klimke's six gold and two bronze medals in dressage events stand as the Olympic record for the equestrian events. He won team gold in 1964, 1968 (both aboard Dux), 1976 (riding Mehmed), 1984 and 1988 (both aboard Ahlerich) and the individual gold in 1984 on Ahlerich. His two bronze medals came in the individual event in 1968 and 1976.
Especially for Isabell Werth, 2002 was difficult year. Her Olympic partner Gigolo FRH was retired in 2000 and although Isabell found some reconnection with the top aboard Anthony FRH, she never shone again. In 2002, her life long training relationships with trainer Dr Uwe Schulten-Baumer was ended due to quarrels with Schulten Baumer's stepdaughter Ellen. She switched barns, leaving Rheinberg for Mellendorf, to train with Madeleine Winter Schulze and Wolfram Wittig. Besides leaving her mentor Uwe, Werth also left behind several top quality horses. She only took Anthony, Apache, Satchmo and Richard Kimble with her and gave up a large collection of super star youngsters to the advantage of Ellen Schulten Baumer.
The Hanoverian gelding Anthony (by Argument) offered Werth several international victories and a team gold medals at the European Championships in 2001 but his difficult character and unreliable performances at competitions became worse in 2002, and Isabell had to rely more on her new Grand Prix horse Apache. The dark bay Oldenburg gelding Apache is still young and inexperienced at the level, but is currently becoming her new number one horse. Furthermore, in the autumn of 2002, Isabell broke her shin bone when Apache spooked and trampled her in the corridor at the training facility in Mellendorf. Werth was out for at least four months. It gave her sufficient time to reflect upon life, her current career and the future.
Q: What went through your head in those four months of recouperation after your shin bone fracture?
Isabell Werth: It was the apex of an already horrible year. First of all, competitions went bad, especially as I didn't qualify for the World Equestrian Games in Jerez. When the doctor told me that I had to take a four-month break, I started to doubt everything. Fortunately, I'm a fighter and I didn't give myself the time to lament on my problems. One day after breaking my leg, I started fysiotherapy. In 2003 I will start from scratch. My debut in Munster will decide where I currently stand with my sport career.
Q: How did it feel like to be back in the saddle after the accident?
Isabell Werth: After six days, I was back in the saddle and after two weeks, I already made my first walks aboard a horse. I owe much to my wonderful team. Madeleine Winter Schulze and Wolfram Wittig kept my horses in shape. It is very positive that all horses are now fit and in great condition. They have cleared their minds too. We can take a new start now.
Q: What are your plans for 2003?
Isabell Werth: First of all I hope to have a good ride in Munster with Apache. Then, I want to do the Kampmann Cup in Bremen in February, and I'll decide which horse to take; Anthony or Apache. Bremen will be an important show to determine where I currently stand. The world top will be competing there. We'll see how it goes.
In Munster, Isabell chose to ride Satchmo instead of Apache. They finished 10th with 66.40%. It was Satchmo's first international Grand Prix test
Interview Source: K-H. Frieler