The biggest shock in yesterday’s Grand Prix competition in Rio was when the Dutch pairing of Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival retired mid-test.
The combination had been scoring in the 70s when Adelinde brought him to a halt and signalled her retiral.
Later she posted on Facebook to explain to dressage fans that Parzival had had a toxic reaction the previous day.
“I planned to train early on Tuesday morning, so I was at the stable at 6am,” she wrote. “Saying good morning to Parzival, I saw the right side of his head was swollen, he had been kicking the walls. I took his temperature: he had a fever of over 40 degrees Celcius, but he still didn’t look sick. He was eating and drinking and while walking I had a hard time keeping up with him, as always.”
After seeking veterinary attention, the verdict was the 19-year-old gelding had been bitten by some sort of insect or creature that produces toxins. To get the toxins out of his system, Parzival was given fluids. Swabs and x-rays were taken, and blood tests done, and gradually the horse’s temperature dropped.
With the swelling down and the horse seemingly okay, the Dutch asked if they could alter the starting positions of the team to give Parzival another day to recover, but this was allegedly not permitted.
With the horse seemingly recovered, the decision was made to compete – as the Dutch did not have a travelling reserve to call upon.
“I took it easy in the warm up and didn’t want to ride full,” Adelinde continued. “He was okay, although he didn’t feel very powerful…. When I entered I already felt he was giving his utmost and being the fighter he is, he never gives up… But in order to protect him, I gave up.”
Adelinde’s retiral in the Grand Prix means she cannot proceed to the Grand Prix Special, and the Dutch team must rely on the three remaining members, Edward Gal (lying fourth with 75.271), Hans-Peter Minderhoud and Diederik Van Silfhout.
But Parzival’s welfare took priority over the team. The chestnut gelding transformed Adelinde’s career, taking her to Olympic silver and bronze and World and European gold medals.
“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,” said Adelinde.