Dressage Grand Prix of the International Horse Championships: Ferndl finished 4th in the sport

For three and a half days the sun was shining over the Munich-Riem Olympic riding facility, Pferd International returned from its Corona twilight sleep and was able to offer a diverse program to a total of 75,000 horse lovers in the best of weather. Then, on Sunday afternoon, shortly before the tournament’s sporting highlights, it finally rained.

Suddenly the weather prevails in which athletes usually agree that there is no longer a beauty prize to be won. But when there’s a contest on the agenda whose essence is winning a beauty prize, that’s a very basic issue, of course.

The five-star dressage freestyle Grand Prix of Munich has to be the highlight of the competition, as it is the toughest test of all. Local champion Benjamin Werndel, 37, rode a rain jacket to the warm-up yard where the horses are relaxed and warmed before the test. Distances in Munich are short, and spectators and staff can watch the action right on the edge of the field. Werndl smiled widely and casually greeted the group, a rider from the German Olympic team who doesn’t let the rain spoil his mood! Even if horses don’t really mind the rain, a lovingly cared for dressage floor naturally turns into a deep bog under these conditions. Werndl had to fight hard and finished disappointingly fourth in the six field when Dorothy Schneider won. But this was not something that could overshadow his overall positive balance at Pferd International. “We missed the spectators so much, you can really feel the happiness of the people who are here,” Ferndl said.

“Jesse is an emotional person, I’m a more thoughtful person. That’s why we complement each other so well.”

There was something for everyone at the Olympics riding facility. In addition to the outstanding sporting features of dressage and show jumping, there were also disciplines of working dressage, dressage semi dressage, and show jumping as well as an impressive color show program. With so many exhibitions revolving around the welfare of the horse and rider, the feeling that the equestrian sport in Munich has returned from Corona’s sleep at night has been rounded off.

For Werndl, the Pferd International in Munich, not far from his farm in Aubenhausen, is a special event, where he was able to excel in the sport with his 18-year-old counterpart the Daily Mirror as well as the freestyle. On Friday he finished second in the Grand Prix on the Daily Mirror, and more good placements followed with his young horse Discover on Saturday and Sunday. For the Daily Mirror, the final season will likely be at the top level, and for Ferndl himself, the road is far from over. Together with his sister Jessica von Prideaux Werndel, he runs a farm in Oppenhausen, which gained international fame in 2021 thanks to Prideaux Werndel’s Olympic victory. With fifty horses and twenty employees, the Werndls have set up a dressage center second to none. “We train our horses there and we also train the youngsters at the highest international level, which we then sell,” the 37-year-old explains.

Werndl makes a good team with his sister: “Jessi is an emotional person, and I’m a more thoughtful person. That’s why we complement each other so well and have a clear division of tasks on the farm.” Simulating the Olympic victory itself would be ‘nonsense outside the window’, but Ferndl could be hitting lofty goals in the coming months. In the Olympic squad, he is grouped with the national crest.

In August, the world championships in Denmark were the goal, even if Werndl insisted, as befits a rookie athlete: “I’m just focused on the moment and trying to make the best of my horses.” But the work at Aubenhausen continues right after the big freestyle swim in Munich. Soon after the competition ended, the sun came out again – so Werndls and all other horse lovers could leave with smiles on their faces.

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