It was not until she was sixteen that Yelena Petushkova first rode a horse, but she then quickly developed into a world class dressage rider. Riding on the Soviet national team between 1964 and 1987, she won a host of international medals. At the World Championships, she won both team and individual titles in 1970, adding one silver and three bronzes between 1966 and 1978. At the European Championships, she won one individual silver (1973), five team silvers and three team bronzes between 1965 and 1986. Despite her long career, she only competed in two Olympics. After a team silver in Mexico, she earned individual silver and team gold at the München Olympics. She missed the 1976 Games due to an injury of her horse Pepel, and her second horse Abakan tragically died before the 1980 Games. Finally, the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games, depriving her of a last chance at a medal. Outside of competition, Petushkova worked as a biochemical researcher at Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Science. She also served as vice-president of the Soviet NOC (1983-91) and was president of the Russian equestrian federation (1996-99). In her final years, 13-time national champion Petushkova was the head coach of the Russian dressage team.