Holy molar! Dressage rider withdraws after horse gets toothache

Austria’s veteran Olympic equestrian Victoria Max-Theurer's Tokyo Olympics Games have ended before they ever began—and for a reason that may be hard to swallow. Her horse has a toothache.

Max-Theurer had noticed that her 11-year-old horse, Abegglen NRW, had been behaving strangely in training. During the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday, a health check and x-ray revealed a tooth infection.

“The well-being of my horse is always above everything else for me," Max–Theuer told Dressage News. "This hurts a lot, but the most important thing is and remains my horse’s health.”

Max-Theuer made her first Olympic appearance in Athens in 2004. Tokyo would have been her fifth Olympics. Her mother Sissy Max-Theuer won a gold medal in dressage at the 1980 Games in Moscow.

"This news is a heavy setback for Victoria,” said Peter Mennel, of the Austrian Olympic Committee. “We hope that Abegglen will feel better soon and that Victoria will continue on her path,"

Max-Theurer's teammates Christian Schumach and Florian Bacher will still compete.

Germany’s Isabell Werth, the most decorated Olympian in her sport, and Britain's dressage world record holder Charlotte Dujardin, are the favorites in individual dressage, that kicked this weekend. Dressage riders and horses are competing in qualifiers on Saturday and Sunday for the chance to win team and individual medals on July 27 and 28.