Gonnelien Rothenberger's Leonardo Da Vinci Passed Away

Leonardo da Vinci Photo © Dirk Caremans

Gonnelien Rothenberger-Gordijn's former Grand Prix ride Leonardo da Vinci has passed away at age 30.  Alongside Weyden, the bay Leonardo da Vinci was Gonnelien's top competition horse from 1998 till 2002. 
Born in 1987 and bred by Heinrich Kruse, the Oldenburg branded Leonardo da Vinci was by Landadel out of Zarene (by Coriolan x Intendant x Waidmannsheil). 
He was first started as a 5-year old by Christine Wels. In 1995 Insa Hansen and Miriam Henschke took over the ride and the horse came in the ownership of Gestut Ammerland.
In 1996 Leonardo da Vinci moved to the Rothenberger's Gestut Erlenhof in Bad Homburg, where Gonnelien took on the ride on the elegant gelding. The pair first competed in 1997 at Grand Prix level. They started at several national shows in Aachen and Munich before going international. In 1998 they contested the CDI's in Rotterdam and Munich. Gonnelien campaigned Leonardo at the same time as Weyden, with whom she won the 2001 Dutch championships.
"I still remember the first time I rode him in public in Maastricht in a demo with Jan Peeters commenting," Gonnelien told Eurodressage. "During the warm up he would always pull to the jumps. In hindsight I think he would really love to have jumped them. His pedigree is not a surprise."
Their highlight years were 2000-2001 when they showed at the CDI's in Munich, aachen, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Ebreichsdorf. They often competed against Bonfire and Rusty at the time. In 2001 Gonnelien rode several World Cup qualifiers and finished fifth at the 2001 World Cup Finals in Vilhelmsborg, Denmark. Leonardo missed the 2002 World Cup Finals due to cardiac issues. At the 2002 Dutch Championships they were seventh in the Kur Finals. Their last recorded show is the 2002 CDIO aachen, where they finished twelfth in the Grand Prix and second in the international Kur to Music. 
"Aachen was a highlight, to finish second in the Kur right on the heels of Isabell Werth. The kur was late and in floodlight. That I was able to ride a freestyle with him, which took many years, was simply great," Gonnelien reminisced. "For me he was a very special horse, because he wasn't the easiest one to handle. He did not trust people at all when we got him. It all changed when Beate Deutsch became his groom. He was very fickle and he would let you catch you in his stall. We nicknamed him hare. Beate always had to figure out new ways. After a few months he changed completely. He whinnied everytime he heard his nickname. We had a very special bond with him."
After his sports career, Leonardo da Vinci spent his retirement in The Netherlands with breeder Stan Serrarens. He became the hacking horse for Stan and his wife and in his last years he was fully retired to the field.
Photo © Dirk Caremans

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