Horse Health

Feel Good Sunday: Olympic Rider Adelinde Cornelisse quits Rio 2016 after horse falls ill

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“I am not much of a follower of sporting events so the Olympics fall under that umbrella of disinterest and of no concern.  (except it is difficult to live in the Greater Houston area and not hear about the local, gold winning Simones, hurrah)  But this week I did sit up and take note of a particular competing duo that stepped up and stood above the crowd, not because of what they did but instead because of what they did not do.  An Olympic rider decided NOT to compete for the safety and well-being of her sick horse.  Now THAT was something that touched me all the way down to my toes and back again; an athlete with a heart that was by far, much bigger than any ego.  I am forever moved.

My hat is off to one of the biggest winners of the summer Olympics in Rio, Ms Adelinde Cornelissen, thank you for showing us what a REAL winner looks like and for reminding us to continue to act from the heart, even when it hurts.  You will always be the biggest Olympic winner, ever!!!”  ~ R.T.

(CNN)A Dutch dressage rider’s Olympic dream is over after her horse fell victim to an insect bite at Rio 2016.

Cornelissen and Parzival won a silver and a bronze medal at London 2012

Adelinde Cornelissen shocked fans by quitting the Games mid-test after her horse Parzival contracted a fever the day before the event.

Cornelissen and Parzival, who won individual silver and team bronze together at London 2012, retired from the individual Grand Prix Wednesday after only a handful of movements.

And it’s likely to have been Parzival’s final Olympic performance because the Dutch warmblood gelding is 19 years old.

Cornelissen took to Facebook and explained she pulled out of the Games over concern for Parzival’s welfare.

The day before the event, she said her horse’s head was swollen and Parzival had developed a fever, the exact cause of which is still unknown.

Cornelissen said the Dutch team had asked to alter the starting positions of the team to give the horse another day to recover but the request was refused by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

On the day of the event, Parzival was deemed well enough to compete by FEI vets but during the test, Cornelissen realized something was not right,

“In the arena he felt totally empty and I decided not to continue. He did not deserve this,” she continued.

“In order to protect him, I gave up … My buddy, my friend, the horse that has given everything for me his whole life does not deserve this … So I saluted and left the arena.”

28 replies »

  1. There’s a LOT of articles and photos circulating FB…. Previous WEG games she was crying and disqualified; her horse was bleeding from it’s mouth…. She’s had violations…. Dressage has some cruel training methods as do any equine sports….

    I barrel race but don’t use studded nose bands or breast plates, schock devices or coke!!

    Where there’s money, there’s greed……

    Jury’s out for me on this lady….especially because I was thrilled when I first learned of her….only to be enlightened later…

    Sent from my iPad


    • She said there was no fracture on her facebook page. Sounds like hes ok. Seems like theres always a lot “circulating” on Facebook!


  2. Importantthing is she pulled out in favor of her horse. How many of them would make the pain or illness just tho compete pit push the horse just to win. And Judge there’s a lot of abuse in eventing like barrel racing. I had a mare that was at a rescue that got seriously injured during the event and web she couldn’t perform they dunked her on a rescue. She was here and for a long time I looked for a surgical scar from the surgery that try claimed she had and never found a thing. The mare was severely crippled and finally broke down. I called the vet and had her put to sleep after het leg collapsed. I give this woman credit for putting her horse first..that’s it in a nutshell.


  3. Based on her previous disqualifications I give this woman no kudos. She wasn’t going to win because her horse just was not up to performing. She’s had bloody spur sores, horse’s mouth bleeding etc. Extreme rollkur which is so injurious and unnatural. And that’s just what you see at competition. What has this horse endured when there was no one watching? This is just another abusing horse owner. There is no honor in anything she has done. Wouldn’t be surprised if this horse doesn’t find it’s way to the auction. You know, cuz she just loves and respects this horse that she treated so badly.


  4. Wow, I did not know all the above cruel training methods. I shared with: When does a Real Horse Warrior give up a shot at Olympic Gold? When it is in the best interest of her horse! Her horse is suffering from a toxic spider bite in the face… Read her story. , But now, I’ll have to go sleuthing to find the real facts behind this. Dressage is supposed to be like dancing with your horse not torturing it to do the moves…
    Well, at least she didn’t make the old guy, 19 yrs old, suffer thru it anymore and hopefully his show career is over and she won’t dump him in a kill pen…


  5. Well I attribute most of this abuse to the darn sport and judges. Reminds me of the QH assn’s peanut pushing head set for QH’s, utterly extreme, unnatural and therefore cruel. Yep, it’s the SPORT that needs to change it’s judging criteria and they write here that they are, but not enough, in my opinion.


    • As in all of the equine “sports” – when it involves money, awards or power – the treatment of the horse gets less & less important. There was an article in the latest Equus magazine regarding researchers in Australia measuring stress responses in horses (12 of them) wearing double bridles with “crank” nosebands. Now to me that description of a noseband would tell me – yeah it would be stressful! These nosebands have a “leveraged buckle that allows a very tight fit and are used to keep a horses mouth closed”. I’ve seen the figure 8 nosebands that probably are used for the same purpose. So, tell me, do we need a study to find that the horses are stressed by them?????? Look at Western “pleasure” or Tennessee Walking Horse soring or dressage “collection”. Yeah, the sports AND the judges are to blame.


      • Bless your soul for reaffirming what it is to have a valued partner in life. The love and heart shared souls of horse and rider should always be protected. Let no one eve tell you otherwise.


      • Figure 8 nosebands ate usually used to keep the horse from running away with you. The military used them standard. Race track horses sometimes what them. It pushes down on an impirtsnt part of their nose.


      • The figure 8s I remember were used on dressage horses – seemed to be the in thing at that point.


  6. A big unanswered question here is why the FEI would not allow her horse to compete a bit later in the interests of Parzival. It’s not like he was drugged, this was evidently a problem caused by something in the provided stables, and not foreseen. Why would the FEI force them to an “all or nothing” test time, riders reschedule all the time at horse shows for various reasons, and as long as they don’t hold up the whole show schedule there’s usually no problem.


  7. Good Grief, I clearly stated in the VERY FIRST LINE of this post, “I am not much of a follower of sporting events so the Olympics fall under that umbrella of disinterest and of no concern…”, hell, I don’t know a Cardinal from a Tiger or a Bear except for the real animals so I definitely do not know anything about ‘her’ style of training or past.

    This news just stood above the rest with the idea that someone, at face value, cared about their horse so I thought it was worth sharing today. Instead it turns into a cat fight about discipline, training and Facebook.

    I just wanted to share what I thought was a good move and in doing so only proved ‘that no good deed shall go unpunished’.

    I guess that I will just stick to Dodo featured videos in the future.


    • Sorry, RT – I agree that this gal did the right thing in this instance. And I read the article regarding her method of training – which sounded good. I guess it sort of flowed downhill after that!! I’m not a big fan of the Olympics, either.
      You have to admit it certainly did create conversation, right???


      • Roger that but Sunday is the day that we attempt to reflect upon what is good as there is the entire rest of the week to shovel through all that is evil and stupid out there.


      • Guess it just proves the point that there is so much bad out there. You deserve so much credit for the uplifting Sunday articles – I know there’s good stuff out there – but we all get overwhelmed, I guess. I just finished reading Farm Sanctuary. I’ll leave it at that.


    • Hey, no worries! I rarely ever pay attention to sports, not even equestrian sports surprisingly, so I knew nothing about her. Heck, as a young kid, I went to SeaWorld, circuses and a rodeo, having NO idea about what goes on behind closed doors or practices that are abusive. Don’t feel bad. ❤


    • RT whether she’d or not…or her training methods are in dispute…violations or not in the past…

      For this singular moment in time can we simply not celebrate her choice? Not sure why she was forced into the dressage ring…but she did the right thing.


  8. Folks we are talking the Olympics here–regardless what happened before she got there, her and her horse were going for team gold-the whole team was affected by her decision, just how many times in her life will she get a chance at a gold metal in the Olympics?
    When she rode out of that arena it was probably the hardest decision she had ever had to make (because that decision affected not only team mates who worked as hard as she did, but her whole country). I would ask how many would have made that same move?
    If we start thinking everyone is an animal abuser, what is that saying about us .Her saluting and riding out of that arena was selfless, because she put her horses health before everything else


  9. Poor baby. I hope Parzival will be ok. I always worry that taking horses and other animals traveling long distances and then with the stress of competing on top of it is recipe for disaster. I wouldn’t say everyone is an animal abuser, but human beings have the mindset that animals are here for our use and for service to us primarily, and that is wrong. I’m glad she put her him first. Fever and head swelling is worrisome. I pray he will recover.


  10. Rt. I have nothing but admiration for you and your writings. And like you, I don’t follow the athletes/sports especially the greedy world of professional/Olympic horse events; And like you, went to give her Kudos thinking, like you…Yay someone cares for the animal above the greed/adulation…However, upon closer inspection I realized she is just what you, I and millions of others are fighting against! Rollkur, and that horrible torture bridle, etc. She has no compunction admitting using these and defends the torture she imposes on her horse. She used the horse’s bad health (and broken jaw among other things) to her advantage knowing she had no chance of winning anyway…And as per usual the media jumped on it as only the media can do, without revealing her horrible torturous ways. That horse is in bad shape because of her greed for winning/trophies. I know its feel good Sunday and I apologize I am baring bad vibes, but I cant feel good about her. In fact I’m reviled. And I know once you look a little deeper you will be too.


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