By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Guenter Seidel, riding U II for the first time since arriving in Germany for training with Klaus Balkenhol in preparation for the World Equestrian Games selection trials, was thrown from the horse and fractured his pelvis Sunday.
Guenter, 49, of Cardiff, California, who was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, was airlifted to University Hospital in Münster, where he was operated on and a plate installed.
Jane Brown, who with her husband, Dick, owns U II and has been a supporter of Guenter for 22 years, said that she spoke to the German-born rider after he came out of surgery and “did not know what had happened. It was his first helicopter ride and he didn’t remember anything about it.”
Gunter Seidel, of Cardiff, California is a three-time Olympic bronze medalist and the winner of team silver at the WEG in Jerez in 2002 and team bronze in Aachen in 2006. He is the second USA Olympic dressage rider to be injured in horse accidents this year–Courtney King-Dye, who rode on the 2008 Beijing Games team, sustained a serious head injury in a horse accident more than three months and is undergoing rehabilitation.
Guenter, U II, a nine-year-old Dutch gelding by Jazz, and groom Fernando Ortega, arrived in Amsterdam Friday on their way to former American team coach Klaus Balkenhol’s facility in Rosendahl, Germany, to train and compete up to the time of the U.S. WEG selection trials in Gladstone, New Jersey, in August. He planned to compete at Fritzens-Schindlhof CDI4* in Austria June 25-27 and some national shows.
“They had a good night’s sleep and decided to ride U II in the morning,” Jane told dressage-news.com.
Rather than ride in the indoor arena, Guenter rode outside and U II was fresh and began bucking.
He was taken to a local hospital and then helicoptered to Münster for surgery.
Jane said that Guenter, although still groggy after the surgery, will make a full recovery.
Guenter and U II are ranked in the top 15 of American qualifiers. If they were to have made the U.S. team, Guenter would have turned 50 years of age just two days before the start of the WEG in Kentucky on Sept. 25.
“He did have on his helmet which he does all the time,” Jane said. “It’s a good thing because the way he fell it he had not been wearing a helmet it could have been critical.”
While the prognosis was good, there was no indication when Guenter would be able to leave the hospital.
At this stage, Jane said, the plan is for Guenter to remain in Germany and watch Klaus training U II.
Meantime, Courtney King-Dye reported Sunday on her rehabilitation.
“I still don’t have proper use of my right side and speech is difficult, but I guarantee I am working hard on them!” she reported on her Internet site.
“I am amazed how much the brain does. But I feel very lucky being like my normal self and having my memory; I see a lot who don’t have that luxury. I explain that my brain may be terribly screwed up, but my mind is good! I kick butt on anything mental they throw at me, so what if I can’t walk; I can think!
“At first I didn’t think I would ride again partly because my neurologist said if I hurt my head again, it will not be 2 times as hard to come back but 5 times; and I can tell you, it’s not easy now!
“But the fact is (even though I have a good education) I can’t see myself doing anything else. I have been asked a lot if hippotherapy sounded good, and at first I thought ‘those horse are so far below my abilities!’ But in reality, horses always make me feel better, so until my balance is better why not do it on horses who are used to it?
“I heard that Lendon (Gray) visited me while I was in the coma with a rein, and it made a huge difference! Jason (her husband) says he was not too impressed with it because he was still trying to get me to communicate, and here is Lendon reminding me how to ride! But it worked; it’s what my body knows. So thanks to Lendon for being such a big part of what’s going on!