Roughly the size of the state of Oregon, Germany is like no other place in the world when it comes to the concentration of warmblood horses and top dressage riders. In this small place?roughly 540 miles by 400 miles?one million horses live, and last year alone, more than 32,000 warmblood foals were born. Out of 82.3 million people, 1.6 million Germans ride horses regularly and more than 300,000 earn their living directly or indirectly from horses.
The horse capital of Germany is Warendorf, a small city that is home to the German National Federation (FN), the biggest horse-sport organization in the world with 736,000 members and more than 7,600 riding clubs; the German Olympic Committee for Riding (DOKR); the Bundeschampionat or German national championships; and the German Riding School, where professional riders and trainers eligible to become a Bereiter or Pferdewirtschaftsmeister are tested.
From Warendorf, you can drive north directly into the Hanoverian and Oldenburg areas. Vechta, home of Germany-based U.S. rider Catherine Haddad, has a great history connected with horses. In the city center, surrounded by beautiful little restaurants and shops, there is a bronze statue of the famous jumping horse Warwick Rex, with whom Alwin Schockem?hle won a gold medal at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Alwin?s brother, Paul, was also a successful show jumper (three-time European champion) and he has become one of Germany?s most well-known horsemen. He runs one of Europe?s biggest stallion stations, where Totilas, Sandro Hit, Sir Donnerhall and many more stand. His farm, Gut Lewitz, is several hours northeast of Vechta and home to more than 3,500 homebreds.
In a close radius around Vechta are several stud farms with long histories: Hengsthaltung Ludwig Kathmann was founded in 1938 and stood Adonis xx, one of the first Thoroughbred stallions used in the warmblood breeding, in the 1950s. Gest?t Klatte became famous through stallions like Grannus and Argentinus. Not far from them is the big stallion station and sport barn Boeckmann?a big family company that also produces the well-known Boeckmann trailers. Gest?t Vorwerk?one of the stud farms with the longest history??was home to such famous stallions as the Grand Prix winners Rubinstein, National Champion Royal Diamond, jumping sires Zeus and Inschallah and the great Furioso II. Vorwerk was recently sold to Austrian dressage champion Sissy Max-Theurer, who renovated the farm and hosted the first international dressage competition there in 2010.
In a country so rich in equestrian history and dedicated to the sport horse, it's no wonder there are so many beautiful farms.