TOKYO (Reuters) – German equestrian dressage rider Dorothee Schneider came out on top of her Olympic qualifying group on Sunday just weeks after a traumatic accident in which the horse she was riding died and she broke a collar bone.
Schneider is part of a powerhouse Germany team including Isabell Werth, the most decorated equestrian Olympian, and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, the top scorer in Saturday’s qualifiers. Germany are among the favourites for team and individual gold on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“First of all, I am of course super happy that I am allowed to be in such a great and tough team. Of course, there is pressure but I believe it’s positive pressure,” Schneider told reporters.
In April, amid the worst outbreak of the deadly equine horse virus in addition to the human coronavirus, Schneider’s horse collapsed underneath her and died.
“It was hard to believe, first the equine virus and then the accident…In the beginning I couldn’t talk about it at all, to be honest. But then I worked through it mentally. I talked about it a lot with my husband and with a mental coach and it’s important to worth through this,” Schneider told reporters.
She started riding again after three weeks.
“Of course, it’s somewhere in the back of your mind, you don’t forget a thing like that ever in your life. But it’s not present here.”
“I am now mentally back on top.”
Schneider rode Showtime on Sunday, a horse which took part in no competitions in 2020, and they had little time to prepare.
“(Showtime) took super good care of me, it’s an unbelievable horse,” she said. “I am massively proud to make it to Germany’s top three in such a short time… It gives me goose bumps.”
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla, editing by Ed Osmond)