Germany’s reigning dressage queen Isabell Werth is back in the show ring after giving birth to her first child Frederik in October. She’s agreed to answer some questions and give periodic updates as she prepares for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Read about her preparation with her horses and her thoughts on the German chances at the WEG this year courtesy of Rolex.
Q. What are your plans beyond the CHIO Aachen (Germany) and before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky?
A. I was back in the saddle very quickly after the birth of my son, Frederik, and I´m feeling really well. My plan is to get in the best shape possible before Kentucky, and it’s encouraging that Satchmo and I have become more and more consistent in our performances as the months have gone by.
I was really pleased with how both horses (Satchmo and Hannes) performed at the Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, and with a score of more than 75 percent, I feel we can be quite satisfied and happy. However, we have higher expectations over the coming weeks and months, and the plan is to sort out the mistakes and concentrate on the finer details of our program.
Between now and WEG we will go to the German Championships in Münster and following that the nominations will be announced, so I’m hoping that we can find our best form for that performance.
These happened Aug. 12-15. Werth placed first aboard Warum Nicht. She has officially been named to the German nominated team entry for the WEG with either Satchmo or Warum Nicht. Other team members include Anabel Balkenhol on Dablino, Matthias Alexander Rath on Sterntaler UNICEF and Christoph Koschel on Donnperignon.
We now know that the Dutch riders are very strong and so is Laura Bechtolsheimer, so we will be hoping to finish closer and closer to Laura and Adelinde (Cornelissen). Edward (Gal) seems to be in a league of his own but the other two riders are definitely within our reach.
Q. Tell us about your top horses—Satchmo, Hannes, El Santo and Don Johnson.
A. As it stands, Satchmo has qualified as my No. 1A, and Hannes as my No. 1B, although four years ago in Aachen it was the other way around. I am happy to have both horses on this level, and it is pleasing that Hannes has been so consistent and is not as spooky as he used to be.
Over the next two years we will see what happens to my two big hopes—9-year-old El Santo and 8-year-old Don Johnson—who have both improved a lot. El Santo has already shown his talent in Grands Prix; however, Don Johnson still has to show his, so at the moment he will only compete in the small shows before he is ready for the Grand Prix circuit.
Q. What was it like to work with Roberto Blanco?
A. I have some new freestyle music, which I am really excited about; it is mixed by Roberto Blanco and is really different to my old style. My thinking is that if we can’t win, we want to have fun; the music just really inspires me, and I hope it inspires the crowd, and of course the judges!
We had a meeting in the studio, and Roberto was singing his famous song Ein bisschen Spass muss sein, and the Tom Jones song She’s a Lady. His music creates a real party atmosphere, which I think suits Satchmo really well. It was surprising how great Roberto was; he was really positive and motivated and he even met Satchmo!
It will now be interesting for me to see how the music works in a competition environment and how the crowd will react, so I’m looking forward to it very much.
Q. What are your thoughts on the German Dressage team at the WEG?
A. I am sure that Christoph and Annabel will do a really good job, and it’s normal that they will both need a bit more experience. Christoph surprised everybody with the improvements that he has made over the last few months, and his horse has huge potential. He had extra pressure on his shoulders at CHIO Aachen when he was the first team rider, but he performed well and he will now just grow in confidence.
Annabel and Christoph’s horses are both young and inexperienced, so it will be a few more years until they reach their best form. This year and next will therefore be difficult for the German team, and I don’t think it will be possible to beat the Dutch, but give us a couple of years and we will be competing with the best.
Isabell Werth, 40, has represented Germany in multiple Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, European Championships and FEI World Cups. Most recently she won team and individual gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, she captured the 2007 World Cup Final in Las Vegas, Nev., and earned team and individual gold at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. She is a Rolex equestrian sports Testimonee.