Several weeks after the dust has settled in Rio, we're taking a look back at the 2016 Olympic Games. For equestrians, the Olympics were both an exciting and an emotional time. Take Nick Skelton from Great Britain. In 2000, a riding injury broke Nick's neck and he was told he would never ride again. Sixteen years later, Nick now has two gold medals, including an individual Olympic gold in show jumping at the young age of 58, which he won at the Rio Games.
Meanwhile, the French team had a catastrophic start to the week that included a fall, a colic scare, and the withdrawal of their top-ranked rider. But the show jumping team overcame their early adversity to take a team gold. Not far behind them was the U.S. team, pulling off a silver despite the heartbreaking withdrawal of fan favorites Beezie Madden and Cortes 'C' due to injury.
To no one's surprise in eventing, Michael Jung took home the individual gold, making him the first simultaneous World, Olympic and European champion. Jung and his horse, 16-year-old Sam FBW, jumped two double-clear rounds to secure their gold. Also showing spectacularly, Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice took home the bronze for the U.S.
But it was out of the dressage ring that came the most incredible act of horsemanship. Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen's 19-year-old horse, Parzival, became ill after being bitten by an insect. Cornelissen spent all night in the barn by his side. When his temperature fell by the morning, Parzival was cleared by the veterinarians to compete. In the middle of their individual Grand Prix test, Cornelissen stopped. She sensed something was still off with Parzival. In her own words, "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."
And at the end of the day, that's really what it's all about. It's not only the spirit of the Olympic Games, but the spirit of equestrians. Our horses are our best friends. Their well-being comes first, even in the face of years of hard work. Even in the face of walking away from Olympic dreams.
The NIGHTWATCH® team salutes Adelinde Cornelissen and the brave move she made for the sake of her horse's health. She is an inspiration to us and to equestrians across the world.