Women as Olympians Susanna-Elise Neidhardt

1912 Summer Olympics

The 1912 Summer Olympics are held in Stockholm, Sweden where 30 events were contested; for men only in all athletic events.

For the first time in Olympic Competition, equestrian divisions were added. There were five equestrian divisions that men would be able to compete in; Men's Jumping Individual and Team, Men's Dressage Individual, Men's Three-Day Eventing Individual and Team.

All equestrian events were for commissioned male officers only; the sport was considered to be "too dangerous" for women and was thought that only men were athletic enough to handle the various demands.

Male Equestrian riders (1, 2, 3)

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.

September 1944

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.

Jubilee and Lis (6)

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.

Lis with her last Mare, Triumph (11)

Lis' last interview in Denmark (12)

An extraordinary pair (13)

She remains as one of the most well-known and admired equestrians in history. Overcoming a potential fatal disease and winning two medals while remaining paralyzed from the knees down throughout the rest of her life.

Lis Hartel is the meaning of being strong and independent. She was greeted with many challenges early on in her life and instead of giving up and giving in, she overcame them with elegance and grace, never losing faith in herself or in her trusted mare, Jubilee.


Currently in 2017

Three equestrian divisions are part of the Olympic competition; Jumping Individual and Team, Eventing Individual and Team and of course, Dressage Individual and Team.

Equestrian divisions remain one of the very few sports where women and men compete at an equal level with no discriminations or differences in judging.

Olympic winners (15)


Carrie Waltemeyer. “Equestrian 101: History.” NBC Olympics, www.nbcolympics.com/news/equestrian-101-history#1952

“Horses in History: Olympic Girl Power.” HORSE NATION, www.horsenation.com/2012/04/23/horses-in-history-olympic-girl-power/

“Lis Hartel-Equestrianism.” International Olympic Committee, 20 July 2016, www.olympic.org/news/dressage-silver-for-inspirational-trailblazer-hartel


  1. http://absorbine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/1912-Olympic-Jumping-Ring.jpg
  2. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/LhRj8rUeu84/T7DIp5RhZtI/AAAAAAAAA1M/v0lHDdkLyXo/s1600/Hans+von+Rosen.jpg
  3. C.https://i.pinimg.com/736x/3a/c7/34/3ac734139d99e28bf1b173f893701337-olympicgames-vintage-horse.jpg
  4. http://thehorseridersjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/SF6276-740x494.jpg
  5. http://sadelmager-dahlman.dk/____impro/1/Lis%20Hartel.jpg-for-web-xlarge.jpg?etag=%2217bda-52986422%22&sourceContentType=image%2Fjpeg
  6. https://assets.horsenation.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/lis-hartel1.jpg
  7. https://assets.horsenation.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/11/groom-helping-lis-hartel.jpg
  8. http://www.eurodressage.com/equestrian/sites/default/files/data/images/49_denmark_hartel_jubilee_02.jpg
  9. https://verkkokauppa.urheilumuseo.fi/media/catalog/product/cache/2/thumbnail/37ddb5da77c876778e6e2522092ef1ef/o/k/ok_12195.jpg
  10. https://assets.horsenation.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/04/dressage-winners-lis-hartel-and-Henri-St-Cyr.jpg
  11. http://wanthaveit.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/376337-lis-hartel-er-dd-.jpg
  12. http://www.ridehesten.com/Files/Picture/Cache/308/32ce4048-5076-4eec-b7be-f6de6e046131.jpg
  13. http://www.eurodressage.com/equestrian/sites/default/files/data/images/55_paris_hartel_jubilee_01.jpg
  14. http://assets.horsenation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/lis-hartel-on-jubilee-2.jpg
  15. https://eventingconnect.today/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/London medallistsEventing.jpg


Created with images by Søren Astrup Jørgensen - "untitled image"

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