Last week the dressage world mourned a legend when 2000 Olympic gold medalist Bonfire died at age 30.
I remember watching Anky and Bonfire compete in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where they won both team and individual silver, representing the Netherlands. I was 15 and it was the first time I’d had the opportunity to watch international-level dressage in person. Among the greats competing–Klaus Balkenhaul, Monica Theodorescu, Isabell Werth, Sven Rothenberger–the performance by Anky stood out. Bonfire seemed larger than life, lit from within by an energy that was elastic, dynamic and endlessly captivating.
Among Anky and Bonfire’s achievements: one team gold medal (Sydney) and four silver medals (Atlanta, Barcelona and Sydney) at the Olympics, and one gold and three silvers at the World Equestrian Games. They were nine-time Dutch national dressage champions and four-time World Cup Champions, and their European Dressage Championship honors included an individual gold medal medal in 1999.
After a long and healthy retirement at Anky’s yard, Bonfire was humanely euthanized last week as a result of laminitis.
Here is Anky and Bonfire performing their winning freestyle (83.11%) at the 1995 World Cup Final in Los Angeles:
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