Celebrity

Olympic gold medallist Jessica von Bredow-Werndl talks dressage and Richard Mille

Olympic champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on her journey to gold medal victory and her relationship with Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille

8 March 2023

By Ian Thorley

It’s not hard to see why Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and ultra-luxury watchmaker Richard Mille are a match made in heaven. Both are at the very top of their respective fields, exude timeless elegance and continue to soar to new heights with each passing year.

The equestrian sensation, who joined the Richard Mille family in 2016, began her career in dressage in the late 1990s, qualifying for the Federal Championships at Warendorf in 1998 and 1999. During the 2013 to 2014 season, she took third place at the Germany World Cup and German National Championships, followed by a first-place win at the Gothenburg World Cup.

Numerous accolades followed, but her dream year was undoubtedly 2021 when the German rider led her team to gold at the Tokyo Olympics before winning the individual gold medal. Less than two months later, she repeated the feat at the European Championships, back on home soil in Hagen, Germany, winning team gold and two individual golds.

Alongside her brother, Benjamin, Bredow-Werndl has since launched the ‘The Home of the Dressage Horse’ – an Aubenhausen-based venture that nurtures the careers of young horses, from initiation to advanced level and Grand Prix competitions.

Speaking with Something About Rocks, Bredow-Werndl delves into her horse riding career, the lessons she’s learnt along the way, and the timeless appeal of a Richard Mille watch.

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl

So Jessica, can you describe the feeling of winning an Olympic gold medal?

It still feels a bit unreal, to be honest. It’s crazy, winning the medal. It was interesting because our team was watching it on a big screen. Winning the team gold medal was expected, and it was a relief, but it was not the same feeling as winning the individual medal. 

My mum told me afterwards that when I was standing on the podium, I just looked so shocked. My mum asked me what I was thinking about. It was my whole riding life, going past. When I heard the national anthem, my whole riding career and all the setbacks flashed before me. There were so many moments when I didn’t believe in myself anymore, and there I was, standing, winning the individual Olympic gold medal. This was the moment I realised that I really made it. That little girl’s dream came true.

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl wears the Richard Mille RM 07-01 Automatic Carbon TPT

What led you to veer towards dressage?

I was very open to everything. I also did vaulting and gymnastics. I liked jumping, but the base for jumping was always dressage. All of our riding teachers told us, if you want to become a good jumper, you have to do dressage. So, I ended up sticking with it. I didn’t want to leave dressage anymore. I always like to find a special connection with my horse, and you need that communication with dressage. 

Tell me, how did you turn your passion for horses into such a successful career?

Well, firstly, I wanted to become a Kindergarten Teacher, then I wanted to become a teacher for a preliminary school, and then I wanted to become a vet, and then finally I decided to become a professional rider. So, it wasn’t always in my mind. At the age of 24 or 25, I thought about dropping everything to become a professional rider. I wouldn’t have ever stopped riding because I was too passionate, but I had been very unsuccessful for six years, and I wasn’t happy with some of the things I saw at competitions. And I thought, if that’s the way to get there, that’s not for me. 

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl wears the Richard Mille RM 07-01 Automatic Carbon TPT

Luckily, I got to know a great coach, and he asked me all the right questions and I realised that my heart belongs to the horses. So, I decided to give it my all. And, by the age of 28, I was in the German Olympic squad. Doors opened that I never thought would open. It was really interesting because I was so unsuccessful and I thought there was no way I will ever become part of the German team. I had no horse, no trainer, nothing. But when you decide to go for something, and you do it with your whole heart, doors just open.

What are the life lessons you’ve learnt from professional horse riding?

If you can dream it, you can make it. There’s so much more behind these words. You need dedication, talent and a little bit of luck, so that the horse stays healthy, for example. But, patience and love, I would say are the two most important things for me. You can’t force it. And you have to be able to surrender to the moment.

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl

How did your relationship with Richard Mille come about?

It was in 2016, I was very close to qualifying for the Rio Olympics. It’s been seven years now, and I’ve got to know the whole family on different occasions. I visited the watch factory in Switzerland. Everyone I’ve met from the Richard Mille family is such a great person. They carry what they do in their hearts. 

We share the same values. It’s not just about the metals and prices, it’s about the personality. When you’re part of Richard Mille, you’re part of a family. It’s a great honour. 

And finally, what’s your goal for the future?

To do it all again.

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