Horseback Riding in Germany – Sport for Champions and EnthusiastsEnlarge image Gold medal team Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Marcus Ehning, Janne-Friederike Meyer and Carsten-Otto Nagel wave after competing in jumping at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY in 2010. (© picture-alliance/dpa)
Germans love horseback riding and equestrian sports. About 1.24 million people in Germany are active riders and 870,000 would like to start riding, according to a survey by market research institute Ipsos (published by the Deutsche Reiterliche Vereinigung). On the international stage, Germany is the most successful nation worldwide in equestrian sports.
This explains why there are more than one million horses and ponies in Germany, which represents a quadrupling of the national horse population over the last 40 years. In addition, there are 8.7 Mio. Germans interested in the sport and its various disciplines. Alone the amount of books and magazines dedicated to the sport is unmatched: more than 1,300 books and 60 professional journals offer information and entertainment around the horse. Enlarge image Equitation is the fourth most popular sport among teen girls between 15 and 18. (© picture-alliance / beyond/beyond)
Riding is especially popular among women and girls. Equitation is the most popular sport among teen girls between 15 and 18 years of age, after soccer, gymnastics, and tennis, statistical data by the Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund (DOSB) reveals. The national umbrella organization for equine sports, the Deutsche Reiterliche Vereinigung, is also the largest equestrian association in the world. More than 70 percent of the association’s members are female.
Enlarge image Isabell Werth, here in Münster with her horse Warum Nicht, is known as the "Queen of Dressage." (© picture-alliance / dpa) On the international level, equestrian sport is also one of Germany’s most successful. Thanks to its long tradition of horsemanship, Germany has produced many world champions in jumping and dressage events. Altogether, German professional riders have won 536 medals at international contests, of which 228 were championship titles. Isabelle Werth, known as the “Queen of Dressage,” has won five gold medals, including one individual, in four Olympic appearances and six gold medals at the World Equestrian Games. Ludger Beerbaum has captured for Olympic gold medals, including one individual, and numerous medals at the World Equestrian Games. They are only two of many world-class German riders.
German riders have won 871 medals in the official European Championships of the eight official disciplines, of which 370 were gold medals. The statistics make Germany the world's most successful nation in equitation.
Enlarge image Ludger Beerbaum is one of the world's best show jumpers. (© picture-alliance / DeFodi) Germany’s reputation as export champion is equally valid when it comes to horses and reflects the country’s decades-long dedication in establishing one of the most reputable national horse breeding programs in the world. At world championships and Olympic Games, the share of German horses is particularly high. At the 2006 World Equestrian Championships in the city of Aachen, for example, more than 25 percent of participating horses were of German breed and won 37 medals. At the 2004 Olympics, where equestrian competitions were held in Hong Kong, 52 out of 194 participating horses were verifiably of German origin and brought 18 out of 45 medals home.
Enlarge image The wild ponies of Dülmen (© picture alliance / Arco Images G) Not all horses in Germany compete in dressage and jumping or work in agriculture, however.Germany is home to the Dülmen pony, of which one wild herd remains on an 860-acre sanctuary near the town of Dülmen in North Rhine-Westphalia.