British Dressage has reported the death of Dr. Wilfried Otto Bechtolsheimer on April 8. The German-born ‘Dr B’, was 72.
A well-respected figure in the world of dressage as a rider, trainer and mentor, he moved from Germany to England with wife Ursula in the 1980s and set up Eastington Stud, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
As a rider he was skillful and sympathetic and even more so as a teacher. Always keen to support up and coming talent, he is widely credited for launching Carl Hester’s career. In three and a half years under Wilfried’s guidance, Carl made his senior debut in 1990 and went to the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Such was Dr B’s generosity, he gave Carl the ride on his most prized horse, the licensed Oldenburg stallion Giorgione, the first horse he trained himself to Grand Prix. ‘Gino’ gave Carl his first National Championship title and Olympic experience.
In 1994, Wilfried took the ride back, going on to represent Britain at the 1995 European Championships and standing reserve for the Atlanta Olympics a year later.
Laura was the only Bechtolsheimer sibling to follow in Wilfried’s footsteps in making a professional career from dressage. Wilfried mentored Laura and was instrumental in her development as one of Britain’s leading dressage riders. Success in the youth teams was followed quickly by medals at senior level. With Mistral Hojris, Laura found success but it didn’t come easily as ‘Alf’ was a tricky horse to train. To turn a horse some said was unrideable into an Olympic, World and European medallist was testament to Wilfried’s patient and sympathetic training methods.
Dr Bechtolsheimer was generous with his time, knowledge and insight. For four decades, he was one of British dressage’s biggest supporters.
He is survived by his wife Ursula Laura; his children Felix, Götz, Till and Laura; and grandchildren Annalisa, Amélie,
Wilfred, Lukas and Hanni.
An intimate funeral for the family will be held on April 11 in Ascona, Switzerland. Details for a memorial service in his beloved Gloucestershire will be announced later in the year.