André Thieme was inconsolable.
"This is probably the most embarrassing moment of my life," he said, writhing with inner pain.
“Because I know who was watching at a moment like that when it counts.” As the European Show Jumping Champion, being so helplessly shot out of the saddle from his mare Chakaria was hard for him to bear.
The German team counted on his ride in the Nations Cup at the World Championships in Denmark, because it was spot on.
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A zero-fault lap would have been necessary to stay in the medal race, after colleague Marcus Ehning, the starting rider, allowed himself two downs with Stargold.
Jana Wargers, the newcomer to the team, gave the team some breathing room with a clear round and only one penalty point for exceeding the time limit.
But now it had to be delivered.
Thieme started the second round very determined, cleared obstacle one with his mare, a huge oxer.
Obstacle two, a forbidding wall with a map of the world on it, in one great sentence.
Then there was jump three, another very big oxer.
Maybe he got the jump point a little too close.
In any case, Chakaria, who absolutely didn't want to make any mistakes, spiraled steeply into the air with her rider Thieme on her back.
"She did such an abnormal jump that I got my ass smacked when I landed," he said afterwards.
He was catapulted from the saddle like a champagne cork from a bottle.
"All of a sudden it happened.
All of a sudden she was gone and I landed on the floor not knowing what happened.” He rolled his eyes:
Like a roller coaster ride
Thieme did not deliver a zero-fault round, but a zero number, so that Ehning's two faults could not disappear in the discarded result.
When last rider Christian Ahlmann and his mighty stallion Dominator had a down at the exit of the triple combination, one jump before the end, the medal was gone.
The German team had to be satisfied with fifth place.
World champions were the Swedes, the Olympic champion team.
Above all the outstanding Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward, who now leads the individual classification and is now determined to also become individual world champion in the final on Sunday.
The pleasantly surprised Dutch won silver.
They too had made a lot of mistakes, "stupid mistakes", as their trainer Jos Lansink said, especially on day one in the time competition.
One German drop less would have been enough and Germany would have ended up on the bronze place, but national coach Otto Becker wanted nothing to do with such calculations.
"Would have, would have, bike chain," he quoted.
Everyone agreed that this Nations Cup was a roller coaster ride because the course builder Louis Konickx had managed to tempt even the most experienced riders to throw down.
Even individual Olympic champion Peder Fredicson with his mostly infallible gelding All in had three knockdowns in the final round, but that didn't detract from the Swedish team result.
The German team, however, had to console itself with the fact that it had achieved the minimum goal of qualifying for the Olympics with fifth place.
Nevertheless, Thieme imagined self-torturingly who could have been gleefully watching his departure.
His senior football team from Mecklenburg.
10,000 spectators in the football stadium on the exhibition center in Herning, which has been rededicated as a horse arena.
The German television audience.
Or even the whole world.
After all, it seems embarrassing at first: the horse overcame the obstacle, the rider fell to the ground.
In reality, everyone was initially worried about whether Thieme had injured himself in his fall.
Like Chakaria, he was immediately examined by a doctor, both had survived the incident unscathed.
"That's the sport," said Otto Becker, who was a bit speechless at first.
"I don't blame André.
He didn't do it on purpose.” It wasn't the first time that a German professional got out of the saddle at a championship.
Franke Sloothaak fell at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Ludger Beerbaum saved himself with a courageous jump after his horse's bridle broke.
"The only positive thing is that nothing happened to the horse," said Thieme.
When Chakaria, the tireless fighter, realized that her rider was gone, she started galloping around the course, startled.
She ran all the way around once.
Then again, ignoring the raised arms of the people at the entrance, who wanted to stop her carefully without startling her.
Finally, Marcus Ehning decided to go to jump one, took a pole from the oxer and crossed Chakaria's track with it.
The mare stopped and allowed herself to be caught.
"You can see that from the expert," said Becker.