On Tuesday, Dutch Olympic dressage rider Adelinde Cornelissen entered the arena on her horse Parzival, guided him through a few movements, then stopped, raised her hand in salute and rode off the field and out of the competition.
The heartbreaking decision was the culmination of a huge amount of soul-searching but in the end Cornelissen decided to put the welfare of her horse ahead of her own Olympic ambitions and those of her teammates.
Days earlier, Parzival had been bitten on the face by a poisonous insect and developed a fever. Cornelissen stayed by his side all that time, even sleeping in his stable with him.
... Parzival was given a clean bill of health, and knowing that her teammates were relying on her, Cornelissen decided to compete.
... After starting her routine, however, Cornelissen sensed something was not quite right with Parzival and decided she just didn't want to risk injuring the horse she had thought of as a friend for 19 years.
"In order to protect him, I gave up... My buddy, my friend, the horse that has given everything for me his whole life does not deserve this... So I saluted and left the arena..."
---excerpted and edited from a Radio Times report