March 14, 1921
Lis Hartel is born in Copenhagen, Denmark. She started riding at just ten years old, taking lessons at her neighbors farm and riding their little white pony. She dreamed of one day having her own horse and competing.
Lis Hartel at twelve years old at one of her first horse shows in Denmark (4)
By the early 1940's, she was an accomplished and well-known dressage competitor that competed all over the country with various horses.
Lis at a dressage competition (5)
Dressage riding is a type of equestrian division that involves testing the athletic abilities of the horse with the rider using minimal signals using only their hands and heels. These movements are often barely noticeable and the horse appears to "dance" on it's own.
Lis Hartel contracts the Polio virus through a bacterial infection at only twenty-three years old. She was also pregnant during that time.
Hartel not only gives birth to a healthy baby girl, but she also spends four years fighting the disease. After the grueling time spent with recovery, she was able to regain movement in her both of her arms and most of her legs and she began training again. She bought a beautiful warmblood mare to motivate her getting back to competition. She named her horse Jubilee.
Throughout the rest of her life as a competitive rider and woman, she remained paralyzed from the knees down. She had help from her grooms to get on and off Jubilee.
Hartel and her groom to help dismount (7)
1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki
Lis warming up for her first Olympic competition (8)
Lis Hartel is allowed to compete in the dressage division alongside noncommissioned officers, enlisted personnel and civilian men and women. Hartel was one of the four women that were allowed to compete alongside and against men in an equestrian sport.
Hartel lost only to Henri Saint Cyr. from Sweden who graciously helped Hartel on and off the Olympic podium when being awarded their respective medals.
Lis Hartel next to her competitors at the medal ceremony (9)
1956 Summer Olympics Melbourne/Stockholm
Lis Hartel wins her second silver medal for Denmark in the dressage division and for the second time, just behind Henri Saint Cyr.
Hartel and Henri Saint Cyr. (10)
The Olympics now officially had six divisions; Men's Individual and Team Jumping, Men's Individual and Team Eventing AND Men and Women's Individual and Team Dressage.
February 12, 2009
Hartel passes away at 87 years old after 75 years of riding and coaching; winning two gold medals and marking a permanent spot in history for not only dressage, but women in general.