Olympic rider speaks up on public acceptance: ‘We have to explain we give the horses a good life’

  • Ingrid Klimke has explained that she holds a monthly open training session at her yard to help equestrian sport’s social licence.

    Speaking at an event at Wellington Riding last Friday (1 March), in response to a question about convincing the general public that what riders do is acceptable and positive, the German Olympic gold medallist said: “Once a month, I have open training. It means people can sign up and come to my barn. I show them the horses in the barn in the field and do a bit of varied training, with different horses. I teach a bit and we have coffee where they can ask questions.”

    Ingrid added that she grew up riding in a club and that her father Reiner Klimke’s riding arena was in an open environment.

    “He knew any time someone could pedal by and watch,” she said. “The best thing is if you know the door is open, someone can come by and watch and if someone asks why you are doing something, you can explain it. It was always open.

    “We’ve been having this open training day about 15 years or so and you never know who will come. Sometimes it works well, sometimes there are mistakes and the horses take off or buck or stop at a fence. We say this is real life, how can we explain so our horses understand us, how can we communicate what we want them to do?”

    Ingrid added that she was asked by the German federation to host some people from Greenpeace, who were “very against riding”.

    She said: “They came to an open training day and were very critical. I worked through their questions, explained we try to let the horses out as much as possible. I said that if they have hind shoes on they go out side by side so they can put their heads together [without kicking each other]. In an ideal world I’d have more room, more pasture, but this what I have and I try my best. We have to explain horses love work, they are excited to go out.”

    Ingrid explained that the lorry was on the yard during the visit and one young mare was trying to get on it, which the visitors could not believe.

    “I said, yes, she’s ready for her next adventure, she wants to join us. We really have to try to explain that we try to give the horses a good life,” she said.

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