Elena Petushkova started late in the sport of dressage but quickly she excelled. In 1968, Petushkova won two silver medals and a gold medal at the summer Olympics. She also was 13-time Soviet national champion for the sport, a record for women riders in her country. In 1970, at 30 years old, she became the World Dressage Champion. In 1990, Russia reduced their financial support of sports and Petushkova worked hard to preserve it. Some believe that saved dressage in those years.
For a while in her career, Petushkova could be seen riding Pepel. Pepel was a black stallion of strong Russian Trakehner breeding. Pepel’s mother was brought to Russia from Germany after World War II in a group of horses that were trained for sports. Petushkova and Pepel were amazing together. A judge even claimed that they left an impression of harmony and easiness on those watching.
In addition to her success as a dressage rider, Dr. Petushkova spoke fluent English, graduated with honors from Moscow University, wrote 60 publications for Russian and foreign magazines, and wrote a book about her two interests—science and sports. She died at the age of 66 from a brain tumor.