This week German rider Isabel Werth won the European Dressage Championships. She also had the highest score, a PB for Isabel and her horse Bella Rose, in the Team competition. So…..Isabel is the European Dressage Champion. And it is not for the first time. This is the sixth time she is Champion. What makes a Champion? I think there are three important things.
Longevity. Winning one race in a record time or scoring a winning goal in an important game, or winning a championship once are all the signs of a talented athlete. But it takes more than that to be classed as a Champion. Isabel Werth is the most decorated equestrian athlete in the world. She has won Olympic, and World Championship medals, as well as multiple Championships. She has three, yes three horses in the FEI top ten ranked horse/rider combinations in the world. She is currently in first place, second place and sixth place. Isabel keeps coming back, riding different horses, and she keeps on winning.
Consistency. To be able to do so well on so many different horses over several decades makes it clear she is not just lucky, or just has a great horse.I have watched Isabel over two decades and I have seen her ride different horses, not easy ones either, and she is a consummate professional rider.
Champions’ Attitude. Having a Champions attitude does not mean having a big head and being impressed with yourself. It means complete dedication to your sport, the hours of practice, and the not so glamorous hard work that make it possible to get to the top. It means sacrificing a lot of your personal life and your time. It means having the courage to go out onto that skinny limb and risk it when you compete. Complete focus, endless patience, and the mettle that means you never, ever, give up. Five years ago Isabel’s horse, Bella Rose, had a difficult injury and it took four years for the mare to come back . Isabel had other horses, top horses, to ride but she never gave up on Bella Rose. Now the mare gives her everything she can in the competition ring. It is a Champion’s partnership.
For me those are the things that make the real Champions. Congratulations Isabel and Bella Rose. Here is a video of her winning ride. It is edited to show just highlights but it really does not get better than this.