Benjamin Werndl's Famoso OLD Passed Away

Wed, 04/03/2024 - 11:47
Benjamin Werndl and Famoso OLD at their career highlight show, the 2022 World Championships in Herning :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Famoso OLD, Benjamin Werndl's World Championship team bronze medal winner and Olympic hopeful, has passed away. The 15-year old gelding had to be put to sleep following an accident in the paddock.

Famoso was by  Farewell III out of Donna Weltina (by Welt Hit II x Landadel). He was bred by Lambertus Schnieder

Licensed Stallion

Famoso was licensed as a 2.5-year old breeding stallion at the 2011 Oldenburg stallion licensing in Vechta, where he was presented by Erich Stevens and appeared rather weak in his movements at the time. 

He did his 30-day performance test in the autumn of 2012 in Schlieckau and scored 7.55 for dressage and 7.30 for show show jumping. He never produced any offspring registered with the German FN and ended up proving his worth as a sport horse. 

Famoso at the 2011 Oldenburg Stallion Licensing
He was first competed as a 4-year old by Tim Kressdorf in 2013. Falk Rosenbauer showed him at the 2013 Oldenburg Young Horse Championships in Rastede where they finished 9th. In 2014 owner Mario Stevens sent the horse to Laura Hesse , who showed him for a year under the supervision of Juliane Dahlmann (née Erben).

Famoso ended up being gelded and moved to Dimitri Polanski's yard in Austria, where business associates Jochen Arl and Henri Ruoste tried and bought him. Famoso moved to Ruoste in Germany, who trained him from M-level to Grand Prix in less than a year 

Benjamin Werndl

German horse dealer Jochen Arl sold Famoso to sponsor Flora Keller in June 2016 and she allocated the ride to Benjamin Werndl.

"The exercises in the highest collection were very easy for him and so piaffe and passage soon became our favorite movements," Werndl reminisced. "I will never forget this feeling on him, this lightness, this smoothness in the movement and this joy of going."

In the louisdor cup qualifier in Hagen 2018
Werndl premiered Famoso at M-level in August 2016 and by December rode him in his first small tour test. They made their international show debut in April 2017 at the CDI Mariakalnok, winning the Prix St Georges. Nationally they competed in the Nurnberger Burgpokal circuit that year but did not make it to the finals. 

He moved up to Medium tour level at the start of 2018 and competed in the Louisdor circuit that year. At the 2018 Louisdor Cup Finals in Frankfurt they were second and bestowed with the Otto Lörke prize. 

German Team Horse

The pair's international Grand Prix debut was in November 2018 in Munich, scoring 75.413%. In 2019 they competed in Ebreichsdorf, Hagen, Munich, Donaueschingen, Fot, and Frankfurt and continued strongly into 2020. They were 11th in the Special at the 2019 German Dressage Championships.

After the CDI Donaueschingen in August 2020 a long break followed.  "Small injuries always set up back, but never stopped us," Werndl stated.

At the 2022 CDIO Aachen
They returned to the international scene at the 2022 CDI-W Neumunster and after super mid seventy scores in Hagen and Aachen, and placing fourth at the 2022 German Championships, they were nominated on the German team for the 2022 World Championships in Herning, where they won team bronze and became Germany's strongest performing pair, finishing fourth in the freestyle. 

"It was a dream come true for me. I had the feeling back then that he not only gave everything for me, but even more. He grew beyond himself," said Benjamin.


Famoso missed out on the majority of the 2023 show season due to an injury. After the CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch in March 2023, the pair pulled out from the first German team selection trial in Balve and missed out on the 2023 European Championships in Riesenbeck.

The duo made its come back at the CDN Ising on 4 November and posted a winning 76,867%. At the 2023 CDI Frankfurt they were 10th in the Grand Prix with a below par score of 68.630% as the horse spooked an refused, but in the Special they were back on form with 75.745%.

Team bronze at the 2022 World Championships
The pair was entered for the 2024 CDI Aachen Festival 4 Dressage last weekend as first CDI in the Olympic year, but did not show up.

Paddock Accident

On 3 April 2024, Werndl announced that Famoso sadly passed away. 

"We don't know exactly how it happened," a devastated Benjamin wrote. "Suddenly he was standing on three legs in the paddock. Comminuted fracture. No chance of healing. We had to put him to sleep. A world collapses for me. He was so special. So intelligent, so mischievous, so playful, so cheeky and so sweet. And so talented. We still had so much to do, especially this year."

Benjamin concluded, "he was the undisputed king in my stable track and made all the horses and people around him feel this in a loving and mischievous way. He really enjoyed his life in Aubenhausen and I would have loved to give him so many more years with us."

Photos © Astrid Appels - Barbara Schnell

Related Links
Eurodressage Photo Database: Famoso
Fendi's Come Back, Toto Jr Resurfaces, and More in Store at 2024 CDI Aachen Festival 4 Dressage
German Dressage Squads for 2024 Announced
Weekend of Comebacks - Part 2: Famoso and Mount St John Freestyle
Escolar and Famoso Win 2019 Otto Lörke Prize
Famoso, New Rising Grand Prix Star at Werndl Yard in Aubenhausen