Q & A with Olympic Gold Medal Eventer Ingrid Klimke - Expert how-to for English Riders

Q & A with Olympic Gold Medal Eventer Ingrid Klimke

Get to know German eventer Ingrid Klimke, a gold medalist at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. She's headed to Rio for this year's Games!
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Ingrid Klimke: “ You must always have dreams and goals. Never rest, never think you have it all."

Ingrid Klimke competing at the 2012 London Olympics on her gold-medal partner Butts Abraxxas. | Photo: StockImageServices.com

Ingrid Klimke competing at the 2012 London Olympics on her gold-medal partner Butts Abraxxas. | Photo: StockImageServices.com

Ingrid Klimke is one of Germany's top event riders, having been part of both Olympic gold medal-winning teams in 2008 and 2012 with her longtime partner Butts Abraxxas. Not only is Ingrid the daughter of famous Olympian Reiner Klimke, but she was appointed to the position of Riding Master ("Reitmeister”), which is a special title of the German Equestrian Federation. Ingrid is only the second woman ever to be awarded this Title.

Ingrid will once again represent Germany at this year's Rio Olympic Games with Horseware Hale Bob, though her other horse FRH Escada SAP was also a strong contender as well, but ultimately "Bobby" won the team slot. 

Q: Going into 2016, you and FRH Escada SAP were on a strong path to Rio, carrying with you an individual silver and team gold medal at the 2013 European Championships in Malmö. Further lighting the way was a team gold medal at the following year’s World Equestrian Games in Caen. After winning the 2015 Title at Luhmuhlen with Escada you were quoted in an interview saying she was“the best horse I have ever had." Can you explain further?

A: She has scope, courage and the greatest heart and will to give her very best. She is a lovely mover and a careful jumper and has all talents you dream of.

Q. For eventing, trust is imperative. How does trust play a role with the dressage training between you and Escada?

A. Trust is the most important tool combined with a clear guideline which a horse has to follow. The horse must also have the willingness to trust the rider.

Q. Escada is the first mare to win a CCI4*. Is there anything different or special in your relationship and with the training of Escada and her being a mare?

A. Escada is a dominant mare who knows exactly what she wants and she knows all about her greatness and so you must find the partnership of trust and obedience to share a 50:50 friendship.

Q. How do you psychologically deal with having to withdraw Escada from an Olympic contender at this stage before the Rio Olympics?

A. Horseware Hale Bob OLD has also won CCI4* and has his talents in other ways. I feel like an equal partner who trusts me all the way and which I admire as well.

Q. What do you say to yourself to get through the emotional difficulty?

A. I can do it. I will do it. End of story.

Q. Horseware Hale Bob OLD showed you what he was made of at the 2015 European Masters in Blair Castle when he won with the team. Now you and Bobby are a part of the top four contenders for the German Eventing Team going to Rio. What is going through your head at this point having to switch all your focus on one horse to qualify after Aachen?

A. In other past Olympic years I never have had two shoes in the fire. I feel proud of having two horses with clear potential to win a medal in Rio.

Q. How much focus on the dressage training will be in your daily training leading up to the games?

A. I always focus a lot on the dressage training. While you need a supple horse who listens to the invisible aids and is through in all three disciplines.

Q. Can you give an example of a current dressage training session for Bobby?

A. Bobby needs a long stretching phase in the beginning. After 10 minutes of walk on the buckle I trot in rising trot on circles and serpentines and changing reins a lot until he is bending and stretching forward downwards. I canter in the light seat to encourage him to stretch and whenever he stretches I give and feel forward and wait until he is chewing the reins out of my hands. After a walk break, the working phase starts with lots of transitions to have him light and listening to my half halts. Then he is ready for movements out of the four-star test. And to finish the session I ride through the test and analyze later what can I do better next time.

Q. He has a strong Thoroughbred pedigree. Was there anything different in his dressage development that you had to consider?

A. He has Thoroughbred gaits and so you must try to improve them as good as you can. 

Q. How does your relationship with Bobby differ from Escada?

A. Bobby has on and off modes and is very calm and easy when he is off. As soon as he is on he is very sensitive and you must feel in him and be very soft as well as determined. He gives all his heart and body for you and listens to a whisper.

Q. Ride to Your Joy “Reite zu Deiner Freude” is your newly published book. Can you explain what this title means to you?

A. Open your heart and love what you do. Admire your horse and have fun riding. Enjoy the wonderful partnership they give to you

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