German dressage rider Helen Langehanenberg was born on 21 May 1982. She didn’t come from a horsey family — her father was a teacher, her mother a former nurse — but she loved horses as a child and was taken to a riding school for the first time when she was six.
In 2003 she worked as an apprentice — studying to become a Bereiter (master rider) — at Olympic eventer and grand prix dressage rider Ingrid Klimke’s yard. Helen has also been trained by Klaus Balkenhol and is helped by her husband Sebastian (née Heinze), a fellow dressage rider.
In 2008 she was reserve for the Olympics in Hong Kong. And in 2011 Helen was part of the second-placed German team at the FEI European Dressage Championships, as well as coming eighth individually. At the World Cup finals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2012, she came second with Damon Hill.
Competing at their first Olympic Games at Greenwich, Helen came fourth individually with Damon Hill and was part of the silver medal-winning German team. A year later at the 2013 World Cup final the pair were proclaimed champions with a score of 88.28% in the grand prix freestyle.
In 2014, the partnership won team gold and two individual silvers at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in Normandy. This was their final major competition together. Helen’s contract to ride Damon Hill ended on 31 October 2014, and despite attempts to extend it until the next Olympics in 2016, terms could not be agreed. The stallion has returned to his owner to stand at stud.
Helen is one of Germany’s most successful producers and is acclaimed for being a regular championship winner at both ends of the spectrum — both in young horse classes and at grand prix.