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Isabelle Wirth: The Queen of Dressage Makes Way for Successors

Isabelle Wirth: The Queen of Dressage Makes Way for Successors

Doctor. Scholten Boomer

Isabel Wirth was a passionate showjumping and event contestant until she specialized in dressage. She was trained by Dr. Schulten Boomer, who laid a solid foundation. Then Madeline Winter-Schultz gave her horses to ride. Since 2004 she has been running her own stable in Rheinberg. I rode horses of different origins, colors and genders to the absolute top. And now he is again focusing on the “new” horses DSP Quantaz (by Quaterback) and Belantis (by Benneton Dream). In total, Isabelle participated in the Olympic Games six times and won seven times on her own! Gold Medals (Team).

You don’t get used to winning

In an interview with Hoefslag Magazine, the dressage queen previously noted that winning is never used. “It never gets normal, because there is always a performance expected. It also depends on the horse you start with. When I start competing, no matter what the horse is, I try to be completely focused at the start and to achieve optimal performance.”

Isabell Werth – Old Weihegold winner of the FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg 2019 © DigiShots – DigiShots

Isabel Wirth – Madeleine Winter-Sholes World Cup Hearing 2017 © DigiShots – DigiShots

Madeline Winter Schulze

Madeline Winter-Scholes has been the owner of Isabel’s horses for many years and is also their patron. Isabelle herself said: “Isabel is worth her weight in gold. She not only owns horses, but has become a part of my family. I can only consider myself lucky that she supports me through thick and thin. This allows me to focus fully on my sport.”


If you’ve been at the top for thirty years, a lot has changed. Only by “changing along” was Werth able to stay on top. If you compare her experiences on the Great Chestnut Gigolo – at the time she was competing with Anky’s Bonfire – with her experiences, for example, with a mare like Weihegold, you can see very well how the horses and the sport have evolved over the past decades.

Isabell Werth – Satchmo Reem Acra World Cup FEI Dressage 2011 © DigiShots – Leanjo de Koster

Horses have changed

When asked, Wirth emphasizes the fact that much has changed: “First of all, breeding has undergone tremendous development, as a result of which our current young horses have a very different basis than before Anne Great Jensen with Marzuq. Most of the horses before Marzuq were unsympathetic: It was a little lazier, more gently: less sharp. Or it was tasteless. There was almost nothing in between. Now the less sharp and very hot horses are the exceptions.”

Isabel Wirth – Bella Rose FEI European Championships 2019 © DigiShots – DigiShots

The most beautiful horses

She continues, “A large group of very good horses have come in, and are willing to work with them. They are motivated, they want to cooperate, they have a passion for running, in short, this group of horses is now average. Plus, they are more beautiful in terms of outward appearance. Have you ever seen a horse with a ram’s head? Not me. In addition, horses have also made tremendous progress in all three forms of movement.

Mondorf Les Pins

When I started (in 1989 at the European Championships in Mondorf les Baines ed.) eight countries started with a team and the 36 participants came from twelve countries. That number of countries participating in a European Championship is now about fifteen, and there are only 65 or more riders participating.”

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adapting to the situation

Wirth continues, “I’ve always tried to keep pace with developments. That means I’ve tried over and over again to incorporate the basic knowledge I gained from Dr. Uwe Schulten Bommer into the training structure. It also means that the horses didn’t have to adapt to me, but I had to. I think that’s It is the basis of my success. It also helps me to have the freedom to choose those horses that I think I can be successful with.”

Isabel Wirth – Emilio The Dutch Masters – Indoor Brabant 2019 © DigiShots – DigiShots

Emilio in El Santo

We’ve seen Isabelle Wirth successfully ride on larger and smaller horses. Going back in time with Satchmo, you’d think “that’s a real Isabel horse.” But when she won everything she could possibly win with Bella Rose, she was “the real Isabel”. How do you see this on your own? “No, there is no real ‘Isabel’ horse. Don’t count on shells. Emilio and Ernie (El Santo ed.) weren’t the horses I thought I could ride a championship with. We were convinced they could make great Grand Prix horses.” With Ernie, I was able to maintain the highest level in the sport for several years, because this horse always wanted and was able to perform above his own potential. Emilio arrived at my stable by chance, because his previous rider didn’t get along well with him. I thought ‘let’s give it a try.'”

Isabel Wirth – Weihegold Old Longines FEI Dressage European Championship 2021 © DigiShots – Leanjo de Koster

Isabel Wirth – Weihegold Old Longines FEI Dressage European Championship 2021 © DigiShots – Leanjo de Koster


“I also have lighter, sleeker horses in my stud, but the big question is: How does the horse get to you and how does the horse evolve? I always make an effort to find out what is in the horse. This leads to positive as well as negative surprises. Take Weihegold, a beautiful black mare, which is A completely different horse. The others are good and maybe very good.”


Wirth is quite convinced that you often cannot see from the outside whether a horse will be a good dressage. Wirth: “Actually. Posture and preparation to perform are very important. Of course we need a good walk, trot and trot, combined with flexibility. But with us, the basic trotting is not judged, as in the World Championships for dressage horses. I get my points from Deceptive changes, which we have to make in just the right place.”

Isabell Werth with elderly Satchmo on the pasture – Isabell Werth 2020 © DigiShots – © DigiShots

horse care

In those 30 years of premium sport, the rise of social media has also had an impact on (top) sport. Furthermore, the discussion on the welfare of horses is a substantive one. How does Isabel see this? “It is important that we succeed in conveying the amount of care and attention we give to the horse. I am convinced that many people would like to trade with our horses. However, we must also engage in discussion with those people who would rather see the horse in the zoo.”


In addition, there is a large group of motorcyclists who just want to travel along the field and meadow with their horses. We must continue to make it clear that it is legitimate to exercise with horses. It should still be possible for the horses to be trained and to show evidence of good build in the sport. Without having to defend ourselves! Of course we sometimes make mistakes in training our horses, but the entertainment jockey makes mistakes too.”

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“What we must continue to resist is the view that if a horse bites its tongue, we will engage in animal torture. I have noticed that many young riders find it important to get a lot of ‘likes’. I think that’s nonsense. What matters is that we keep our sport We refute a few criticisms for objective reasons.”


She continues: “I grew up on the farm myself. Not only me, but all the other children who grew up on the farm were riding horses or ponies. But the small farms, where at least one horse roamed, no longer existed. As a result, something was lost that served as a foundation. For our sport. On the other hand, many urban children have more opportunity to ride a horse or pony than in the past. This does not change the fact that the love for horses and equestrian sports that we inherited from the homeland is fading away. It worries me that many children no longer grow up with knowledge This is not directly related to the future of domestication, but has to do with the correct handling of the animal in general.”

Isabel Wirth- DSP Quantaz World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen 2021 © DigiShots – DigiShots


Isabel Wirth recently stated that she may retire from top sport after the Olympics in Paris. “Until Paris, whether it happens in 2024 or 2025, the focus will be on sports,” she said. Wirth has now set her sights on 11-year-old Qantas, who will start this week in Aachen. Additionally, she has high expectations from her 9-year-old Superb. This mare is owned by Madeline Winter-Scholes, and according to Wirth, she could follow in Bella Rose’s footsteps.

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She previously told Hoefslag about it: “My racing career will end one day, but nothing will stop me from driving home. Plus, I feel very comfortable training the riders. I feel fit and let the future come to me. And then I see how it unfolds itself.” Madeleine has a charity that I can also identify with and which I am committed to. You know, I have some talented young horses in my stable. It might be good if they are released by someone else in the sport. On the other hand, one thing is for sure: within ten Years I will remain involved in taming in one way or another.”

Isabel Wirth 2020 © DigiShots

Isabel Wirth 2020 – © DigiShots

Above Isabel Wirth

Isabel Wirth (1969)
Woonplaats: Rheinberg / Niederrhein
Occupation: dressage rider/trainer
Sporting Highlights: Isabel has been part of the world’s best players for thirty years, and is a multiple European, world and Olympic champion with many horses with the team as well as individually.

Text: Jacob Milesen and Karen de Haan

Source: Hoefslag, copying without quotation and permission via [email protected] not allowed.