Giesen, Werndl and Winkelhues, New European Young Rider Champions

The weekend of August 1 to 3, 2002, was not only the turn of July into August, but probably also the most busy and most important weekend ever for the European Dressage World. Four immense championships were being contested on European soil during those three days. The European Pony Championships were hosted at Ullrich Kasselmann's facility in Hagen, Germany, while the European Championships for Junior and Young Riders took place in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, which unfortunately had to deal with heavy rain showers the first day of competition. The arena for the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses was once again laid down in Verden, Germany, and produced Don Davidoff and Rubels as winners.

At the 2002 European Pony Championships, German pony rider Katharina Winkelhues was the undisputed champion. Aboard good old chestnut stallion Dressmann (pictured), Winkelhues scored 1137 points in the individual final. Already having won the golden team medal, Winkelhues shared her individual gold plaque with German team mates Annika Fiege (silver, riding Konrad) and Stephanie Janssen (bronze, riding Dornik B). Best non-German pony rider was British Lorna Edmonds on Maria Eilberg's former Euro Championship pony Manitu M.

Moving to Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, to the facility that hosted the 1998 World Equestrian Games, two new champions were laureled this weekend. Amongst the junior riders, German Jessica Werndl scored the most consistent and the highest. Riding Bonito, Werndl won team gold for her country Germany and the individual gold after a 76.01% marked kur to music. The silver medal went to Austrian Victoria Max-Theurer (pictured) who had been vying for gold over the past three years but was never able to achieve it (2 bronze medals in 2000 and 2001, silver in 2002). Max Theurer is the daughter of former Olympic Champion Sissy Max Theurer and trains at her own facility at Castle Achleiten in Austria. Dirk Viebrock and Willy the Kid received the bronze medal and contributed to the 12 golden medals the country won at the championships over the weekend.

Nicola Giesen secured her second consecutive Young Riders' title with her trusty mount Slow Fox V (by Saros xx). Giesen's entry at the EUYRC was uncertain for a while as her chestnut gelding got injured at the beginning of the 2002 show season. Only performing at the necessary qualifiers and one CDI, Giesen spared her horse in order to make a deep impact at the one show every Young Rider dreams of competing in.

For a long time it seemed that the Dutch Joyce Heutink would snoop into Giesen's golden plan, but Giesen, who is trained by the German chef d'equipe Holger Schmezer, scored 75.98% and won the freestyle. Eventually it was team mate Jan Andreas Viebrock with Muchocho who became Giesen's biggest threat. With 75.36% in the kur, Viebrock gained points in the overall ranking and was just 0,01 point short for a tie. The bronze medal went to Heutinck who rode three beautiful tests with her temperamental mare Berkel I Dancer (by Candyboy) during the event.

Text by Astrid Appels
Pictures by Dirk Caremans (archive photos)

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