The friendship story of beautiful black Horse Pepel and equestrian Elena Petushkova (17 November 1940 – 9 January 2007) lasted 16 years. Pepel (Ashes in English) was a horse-personality with a very uneasy character. Petushkova had a hard time: for a long time she achieved mutual understanding. Elena decided to apply non-standard methods of working with horses. For example, when Pepel did bite her, Elena, despite the bruises and pain, did not pay attention to the bites. Colleagues advised to punish the whip, believed that she would dilute the stallion and this could be dangerous, but kindness and love won. Gradually, Pepel changed his attitude towards Elena and even kissed her on the cheek. This was their first victory.
After 1964, Petushkova regularly took prizes. The 1970 World Championships in Aachen became triumphant for the sportswoman. Before the decisive start she was relatively calm. This calmness she conveyed to Pepel, who understood the responsibility of the moment. They won. After this triumphant competition, an American judge and columnist, Dr. Van Shaik, will say: “The Russian combination of Pepel-Petushkova was the only one that left an impression of harmony and, consequently, ease.”
There were also obstacles through which Petushkova and Pepel courageously passed. For example, the 1972 Olympics became very hard for them. Elena fell ill and missed the most important training. Pepel began to limp, veterinarians discovered naminka – hoof disease. In such cases, horses were injected with novocaine. However, this time doping control was introduced for horses. Therefore it was necessary to interfere with surgeons. Elena was nervous, afraid for Ashes, without thinking whether she would sustain herself. As a result, that year they took 2nd place.
In 1973 Elena Petushkova achieved a unique success at the USSR Championship, having won in all four types of the program and became the European champion in the Middle Prize.
In the winter of 1974, Grigory Anastasiev, coach of the great duo, fell ill. Due to illness, he could not prevent the transfer of Pepel to another equestrian school for training beginners. Petushkova learned about this two weeks before the birth of her own child and applied with a statement about the intention to return to training. So, in the summer of 1974 the horse stayed with her, provided with the necessary care and training.
However, few people then seriously believed in the return of the champion to the big sport. Petushkova also showed her character and will to win: she started training three months later, and won three awards at the USSR Championship: two “gold” and “silver”. Duet Petushkova-Pepel was included in the squad for the World Cup in Copenhagen, the result of which was the third place in the team championship.
According to Elena Petushkova’s memoirs, “bronze” after all these tests was more expensive for her than “gold.” Two months before the Olympics in Montreal, Pepel, who at that time was already twenty years old – a serious age for a horse – suddenly limped. Petushkova did not go to Minsk to the USSR championship, she continued to train independently, not knowing that the sport authorities have already made the decision about her non-participation in the Games.
The last time Petushkova performed at the USSR Championships in 1977, and it was magnificent. She got off the saddle, and kissed his face for the last time.
On one of the sites devoted to equestrian sport, an epitaph soon appeared: “A bright memory, and let the faithful Pepel meet her on evergreen meadows” …
January 8, 2007 at the 67th year of her life, the legendary Elena Petushkova died, buried in the Troyekurovsky cemetery of Moscow. And now her favorite black horse is again with his owner – the monument of Petushkova on Pepel stands on her grave.
Horse Pepel and equestrian Elena Petushkova
public group vk.com/horse_in_history
“Journey in the saddle along the route ‘Life'”. The book of memoirs of Elena Petushkova. 1985