Danish World Champion in dressage - with the dressage horse of the century

Sep 07th 2021

Danish Anne Grethe Törnblad is the only Danish rider who has won a gold medal at the World Championships so far. It happened in Toronto in 1986 on the horse Marzog, which was later named the dressage horse of the century in 1999. 

Marzog and Anne Grethe Törnblad (formerly Jensen) managed to place Denmark on the very top of the international dressage scene back in the 80s. The light brown gelding danced into everyone's hearts and created a lot of attention on dressage in Denmark. 


Marzog was born at Liselund Estate in 1973, and he was by the stallion Herzog and out of the mare Cheeky Girl. Already as a young horse he showed great talent for dressage, and Anne Grethe, who was only 25 years old when she first met him, became the rider who educated the long-legged gelding to the very highest level and was his partner throughout his fantastic sports career. Marzog won his first Danish Championship in 1980 - at the age of just 7 years – and then again in 1983, 1984, 85, 86 and 87. Naturally, with Anne Grethe in the saddle. Marzog and Anne Grethe were known for performing the most difficult exercises in dressage with a rare suppleness and lightness, and the pair helped to set new standards for the sport.  


In 1983, the pair won the European Championships in dressage and beat, among others, the favorites, Dr. Reiner Klimke and Ahlerich. In 1984 they won a silver medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles, and in 1986 it was both a World Cup- and a World Championship-win for the popular Danish couple. 


Marzog retired in 1988 and was able to enjoy his retirement on Anne Grethe and Leif Törnblad's farm on Zealand. The famous horse died in 1991, but he was far from forgotten. In 1999, based on his achievements, Marzog was named the best dressage horse of the century by the World Equestrian Federation, FEI. 

Anne Grethe continues to train horses and riders

Today, Anne Grethe is still active as a trainer and a rider on daily basis. It has been many years since the time with Marzog, and it is impressive that she still finds the desire to engage in high-level dressage sport.  


"I like riding and I like horses," is the short answer to that question.  


Over the years, she has educated 12 horses for Grand Prix, including horses bred by herself. She trains several talented riders, including Grand Prix riders.  


“It keeps me going and sharp; I am constantly challenged in the quest to find good solutions to my students' problems. It is exciting to follow and develop students and their horses for the high level of dressage.” 


What the World Championship gold medal has meant to Anne Grethe 

“Until my win at the European Championships in 1983, I worked full time in Næstved Municipality, but afterwards I could work part-time. After the World Championship win, I was able to work full time with horses. I could compete in international competitions on horses like Supermax Ravel, which became No. 5 at the European Championships and No. 4 at the World Cup Final. I also competed on him at the Olympics in 1988 and 1992 as well as at the European Championships and World Championships. Alongside with my own career I started to train talented riders and was riding a number of stallions for Danish breeders,” says Anne Grethe Törnblad. 


How do you see the development in dressage from then to now? 

“Today there are several good dressage horses for the riders to choose from, as the breeding has become better and more specialized. Riders today also have greater opportunities to concentrate on just riding and working full time with horses. There are, as I see it, two slightly different ways to train horses for dressage competitions. There are many good riders who stick to the classic training scale, where the horses work loosely and with a natural collection, which results from the horse gradually becoming strong enough to take weight on the hindquarters and go forward to a light contact on the reins and with the horse's nose in front of the vertical. On the other hand, we also see some riders who have a slightly different style, where the horse pushes hard forward and gets a more excessive front leg movement compared to the engagement of the hindquarters. At the same time, some of these horses don’t go forward naturally and in balance, and they often have their noses behind the vertical,” concludes the former World Champion. 


Top results for Anne Grethe Törnblad and Marzog:

1982: Team bronze at the World Championships 

1983: Individual gold and team silver at the European Championships  

1983: Tops the world rankings 

1984: Individual silver at the Olympics  

1985: Individual bronze and team silver at the European Championships 

1985: Tops the world rankings 

1986: Individual gold at the World Championships 

1986: World Cup winner 


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