Germany’s Ingrid Klimke – Successful Rider,Trainer and Mother

Ingrid Klimke – Badminton 2015

Throughout history, the Germans have long been associated with their horses. Over the centuries, they have brought together differing breeds throughout Europe and developed breeds such as the Hanoverians. They have always had prolific and famous riders. In more recent times, Dr Reiner and his daughter, Ingrid Klimke, Paul Schockemohle, Michael Jung, Isabell Werth, Ludger Beerbaum to name just a few.

Dr. Reiner Klimke was born in Munster in Germany in 1936 and had an extraordinary equestrian career winning no less than six gold and two bronze medals in dressage over five summer Olympic Games between 1964 and 1988. His best Games came in 1984 when winning the Team Gold and Individual Gold medals riding Ahlerich. Ahlerich was a Westphalian gelding, a horse he purchased at auction for a record price of 42,000 DM (US$ 26,000) in 1975. His other horses of note were Dux, with whom he won Olympic team gold in 1964 and 1968 and in 1976, he won another Olympic team gold on Mehmed. Klimke himself trained with Harry Boldt, another successful Olympian at dressage, and was from Prussia.

Reiner Klimke

Reiner Klimke’s parents were not known for their equine prowess, he was the son of a psychiatrist, so it was expected that Reiner would take up some valuable profession when the time came. He became a lawyer and furthered his career by setting up his own law firm which he ran until he died. He served on several committees including the FEI Dressage Committee and following his successful international riding exploits, he was a world renowned and regarded dressage judge and trainer. His wife Ruth helped him hugely, riding out horses and running the stables. She was a successful rider at both dressage and show jumping in her own right. They had three children, two sons, Rolf and Michael and a daughter, well known in eventing circles, Ingrid. Dr. Reiner Klimke died suddenly when he was only 63 in August 1999.

While the two sons, Rolf and Michael rode, neither had the enthusiasm or equestrian drive of either their father or mother. However, Ingrid did and although she was not committed to riding at an early age, she soon ‘got the bug’ and made it her career. Clearly, she thought that the possibility of being a bank clerk or a teacher, for which she had some training, were not for her. With her father’s training she was soon on the dressage circuit but also dabbled in showjumping and eventing.

Dressage – whether at CCI or CDI level – seen here at Badminton on SAP Hale Bob

She made up her mind that eventing was her thing and as we know, she has been one of the world’s top eventer riders for some time. Ingrid was born in 1968 and first appeared at an Olympic Games in 2000 on the German eventing team where she and the team just missed out on a medal coming fourth. She rode Sleep Late. In 2004,, again she and the German team came fourth, and again she rode Sleep Late, but two years later, in the World Equestrian Games she rode the horse to Gold medal for the Team event. Two years later at the Beijing Olympics, she had a new ride, FRH Butts Abraxxas when she helped bring Germany the Gold medal in the team eventing. In the 2011 European Championships, and in 2012 at the London Olympics, she repeated her success. It is perhaps her latest ride SAP Hale Bob where she has had her greatest successes. She won individual Gold medal at the European Championships in 2017 and another individual Gold came her way together with the Gold team medal two years later. At Badminton Horse Trials in 2015, again riding SAP Hale Bob, she was just piped by William Fox-Pitt and was second. She was the last to go in the showjumping, but had no leeway for any mistakes. Unfortunately though, she had one jump down which gave her an extra 4 penalty points which she could not afford.

Ingrid – trainer and Mother

Ingrid Klimke lives in Munster, where, like her father she was born and brought up and she has two daughters, the elder of the two, Greta is now in the Young Rider Squad for Germany and so far appears to be following her mother’s and grandfather’s tradition. Ingrid herself is the only rider ever to have ridden in two disciplines internationally and the German Equestrian Federation recognised her success and awarded her the honour of Reitmeister, only the second time it has ever been awarded to a female rider.

In 2020, had they proceeded, Ingrid was on the German A squad for both dressage and eventing for the Tokyo Olympics. In the FEI World Cup qualifier held in Dortmund, the last to be held before the Covid lock down, she won the dressage CDI. She is also known for her ability to train both riders and horses. Her philosophy for training horses is that they need to be happy to give you what you want from them. She does not push them too hard and during training sessions, she is very careful to give the horse plenty of breaks to let itself down before moving onto the next movement.

Unfortunately in early 2020, Ingrid fell off a horse and sustained a back injury and while it is not believed to be so bad to curtail her riding career, she is expected to be off the circuit for some time. We hope she fully recovers very soon.

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