In recognition of her legendary record as one of the most successful U.S. dressage horses in history, Brentina was inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame in 2009. The 16.2 hand Hanoverian mare was the first American horse to win the FEI World Cup (2003), she led the U.S. to team silver (2002) and team bronze (2006) at the World Equestrian Games, and team bronze at the 2004 Olympics. She was the 2005 Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year, and won individual and team gold at the 1999 Pan Am Games. Here is the induction speech, given by then-USDF President Samuel Barish, when she joined the ranks of the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame.
Our second inductee into the Hall of Fame is Brentina, in recognition of her legendary record as one of the most successful U.S. dressage horses in history. The fabulous 16-2 hand, chestnut Hanoverian mare, owned by Parry and Peggy Thomas, and ridden by Debbie McDonald, has been an inspiration to riders, spectators, and fans who have avidly followed her career. Brentina has become our National Treasure, and has been, and remains, an Ambassador for the sport of dressage at home and abroad. She and Debbie raised the bar for U.S. Dressage with the scores she attained in the competition ring. Although her competitive career has been outstanding, it pales compared to the emotional impact she has had on her enormous fan base. Her electrifying magnetism and tremendous athletic prowess have wooed her into the hearts of dressage enthusiasts. Her success is due in part to her excellent work ethic and the partnership she shares with her rider.
Brentina has always been very cold backed, especially after a few days off. Since she has bucked off a few grooms, no one in the barn wanted to ride her when Debbie left town. While she was preparing for the WEG with Olympic Individual Bronze Medalist Klaus Balkenhol, Debbie and her husband Bob traveled to England to meet the Thomas’s, and were stuck there due to a terrorist threat. Debbie called Klaus and asked him to ride Brentina. Klaus said “No problem.” Debbie told him to be careful getting on and to make sure that her groom Ruben was there. Klaus tried, but got a funny vibe from her when he put his leg over her back. He asked Ruben to hold on while he jumped off! He ended up hand walking her with Ruben until Debbie returned. She has never bucked Debbie off, but Debbie still took a deep breath when she put her leg over her after a few days off.
Brentina excelled for the U.S. in International Competition. In 2003, she was the first American horse to win the FEI World Cup. She led the U.S. at the World Equestrian Games winning team silver in 2002 in Jerez, Spain and team bronze in 2006 in Aachen, and to team bronze at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She finished fourth individually at the 2002 WEG, missing the bronze medal by an extremely narrow margin: 0.075 points out of 233 points. Brentina won the USET Grand Prix Championship in 2001, 2002, and 2003 and was the U.S. Grand Prix Freestyle Champion in the U.S. World Cup League Final in 2002, 2004, and 2005. She was an Individual and Team Gold Medalist at the 1999 Pan American Games in Mexico City, and was Third in the FEI World Cup in 2005. That year, Brentina was honored as the Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year. She was chosen as the 2003 USET Limited Edition Breyer horse model.
Brentina’s accomplishments have clearly made her one of the most outstanding dressage horses in U.S. history. I am honored to induct Brentina into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame.
Samuel J. Barish