Ludger Berbaum: "You have a new young generation of athletes that you can count on in the future"

3. Juni 2019

Ludger Berbaum and editor-in-chief Prokoni.ru Alexandra Maslakova/photo by Alina Vasilchenko @gladdys88

Prokoni: It is not your first visit to Russia, when was your first visit and what have changed in Russia since that time in your opinion?

Ludger Beerbaum: My first visit to Moscow was long time ago, about twenty years actually. It’s difficult to me to judge, the world has changed a lot since that time. In between I also have not been here on the shows, but for sure coming here [in Maxima Stables] today I can say that it’s one of the nicest equestrian arena which I have seen. And I’m coming around not only Germany and Russia. So if you ask me precisely what has changed I think that Russia has developed, Russia is more modern now, this particular venue is up to the world best venues. Here I had mainly to do with young people, with new generation, not the generation from 28 years ago and I think that’s very positive. You can count on very motivated young people and that is very positive on the future of equestrian world in Russia.

Ludger Berbaum/photo by Frank Fotistica

Prokoni: This summer here in Moscow in Maxima Stables Olympic team qualification in showjumping will be held. What do you think about it?

Ludger Beerbaum: I think it’s very positive. It’s a good event to check your standart and your level for the current top riders. This is maybe not so much for the new generation. But it’s good first of all to host it here, to bring all the people together, but also for your own top riders to really see where they stand.

Ludger Berbaum/photo by Alina Vasilchenko @gladdys88

Prokoni: Equestrian sport in Germany is highly developed, how education system for children, juniors and young riders is organized there? Which organizations help young riders in the beginning of their carrier and how: they only help with education or they help them to buy horses or what they do?

Ludger Beerbaum: No they don’t really help to buy horses. I think you know we have more than hundred years of history of the whole horse industry. And that is not only riding or creating future champions, it’s about horse maintenance, horse welfare, breeding – it’s very big industry factor. Everything connected to the agriculture sector, it’s also very important how to feed the horse, how to maintain a horse, to shoe a horse. Veterinarian section has also quite high standarts. And then we have the Federation, which is having a good system for young kids to start. They have to pass a license in theory, they have to know how to put a bridle on, they have to know how to brush a horse, they have to know how to feed a horse before they start riding. And then they have riding lessons where they learn accurate position, practical and theory. And before you even go to the show you have to pass one or two tests to get the permission to go to the show. I think that the basics are really well organized. So the industry is actually quite strong and what is very positive for us: the boarders are opened, we live in a globalised word. This is really very positive. So our “know how” and also our products – horses and service – we can bring to other countries, that’s very positive also economically. But we have a current situation when except for Aachen which is a very popular horse show for all the other shows it’s not so easy anymore because we have a lot of competitions in other big countries bringing up new sports and more excitement and more shows, more sponsors, more price money. On the sponsor side on the normal local shows it’s a little bit difficult at the moment. We don’t have so many sponsorships, it’s difficult, they have to pay taxes to the government. They also can not just invite people, because they always have to balance the money they spend and the people they invite. So it’s not really comfortable for the show organizers, and that’s a week point that we have.

Ludger Berbaum/photo by Alina Vasilchenko @gladdys88

Prokoni: How is organized the communication and cooperation between Stud farms and riders?

Ludger Beerbaum: I don’t think that it’s too much cooperation between Stud farms and riders/ Communication yes because of course the breeders go to shows, meet riders and talk about general standarts, but mainly for the breeders the decisions they make every year – which stallion to choose for which mare – they make by themselves, they have their own knowledge and they have also their own taste depend on whether you want to have a pretty dressage horse or good moving showjumping horse etc. I think for example the German breeders are communicating with the Dutch and the Belgian breeders more than they do with the German riders. Of course when their products are 3, 4, 5 years old than they have to confront some of the riders to ask if they are interested to ride their horses. But the for decision making process – which stallion to choose – they have their own experience. So there is not so much discussion and cooperation between riders and breeders.

German national team wins European Championship in Herning, 2013/photo: Ludger Beerbaum Stables

Prokoni: Do the breeding farms offer job for young riders, do they try to sell or give horses to German riders to keep them for their own country?

Ludger Beerbaum: Yes and no. First of all I think it depends. It’s not a common thing that the breeders always keeping the mares for so long in the Stud farms and then send them to the riders, some Stud farms are employing riders, but not many of them can afford it. So mostly they are breeding and sell horses already as foals or they keep a little bit and then try to place horses by different riders and stables. What about the second question – if they really try to keep the horses for German riders – this is the exception, not the rule.Because my best way is to make the best profite. And if it’s a Dutch rider or a German rider for a period of time to be able then to sell the horse for example to America then it’s that way. I also think it’s normal. Patriotism is nice and if there is a German owner willing to spend a good money for a young horse – yes, we also have it and I do it also myself, if there is a good 5, 6 year old – we buy them. But to say that we keep them only for the German riders that would be naïve, that doesn’t work.

Ludger Berbaum/photo: Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters

Prokoni: Which three changes or advices would you give to improve Russian equestrian industry and our level of sport in general?

Ludger Beerbaum: Only three?:) I think number one – and this is already happening a little bit – the agriculture is getting really strong in Russia because of the different reasons: one reason is the stupid sunctions from America and Europe, so they have to bring now their own products up which is actually for Russia really good I think. So with growing of agricultural sector you will also be able to produce and start to breed your own horses, have your own feed and other products – this is one advice, very important if you think mid and long term. I think it’s very healthy to have your own industry. Advice number two: try and make country-wide and not just area Moscow, I know that Russia is so so big, the biggest country in the word, so it’s not so easy, but in the places where it’s possible bring up a good system, work with Federation, send from the Federation people in all these areas in Russia to teach people there. Today it’s much more easy with all the technology and devices, it’s possible to make tests, to teach theory, make the people aware what is need to get going in riding. And then number three is for sure in these areas with a bit of support from government and from federation to organize shows. Not just top 5* shows and GCT, but organize shows for children, juniors, young riders, championships, make series, bring the people several times during the year increase the level of competition.

Ludger Berbaum on Chaman/photo: Eszter Alrutz

Prokoni: Today the equestrian sport is very different from what it was in the beginning of your carrier: now it’s more money and sponsors involved, much more shows, more opportunities etc. How do you think is it important to follow all the changes or is it more important to keep the traditions in equestrian sport?

Ludger Beerbaum: That’s a difficult question. The answer can not be black or white. I think we are well adviced to keep part of the tradition, not all the traditions. And keeping the traditions doesn’t mean to protect something, because tradition also has to develop and improve, we shouldn’t just keep everything like it was 25 years ago. I think it’s also useful to keep the tradition with new shows, series coming up. But of course the more global the sport develops, it can not run always under the rules of Western Europe. Because in a lot of other areas this is just not possible. And as nice as it is to have the Devision 1 in Nation Cups with the Nation Cup Final – it’s super, but in other areas they should also have the access to good 5* shows. So I think it’s a little bit of everything, but I really think it’s very important to under the Olympic Committee’s roof and to protect every single Federation and every country.

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