8 People Every Horse Person Should Know About
Of course, we can all name our favorite riders off the bat. Whether you think Ingrid Klimke is the best horsewoman in the world, admire Michael Jung’s all-round talent, wish you could have the lower leg position of McClain Ward, or just want to be able to ride a half-pass a tenth as good as Sabine Schut-Kerry, there are riding idols aplenty.
But what about the people behind the scenes of the horse world? Without people dedicating time to things like course designing or building the profile of the sport, we’d have nothing to enjoy – whether at top levels or simply at your local barn.
To celebrate the everyday people who make horse riding a pleasure for so many people worldwide, here are eight people every horse person should know about.
Olaf Petersen (Website)
If you’ve watched lots of top showjumping on TV or YouTube (or live, if you’re lucky!) you’ve probably seen someone jumping a course designed and built by Olaf Petersen. The German was a successful rider at the international level, before trading in his boots and spurs for a measuring stick in the 1970s. Since then, he’s designed courses for two Olympic Games, a World Equestrian Games, and many European Championships.
He retired as a course builder in 2005 to focus on training the next generation of international course designers – and who’s one of his top students? None other than his son, who is also a well-respected international course builder. Some things really do run in the family!
Paul Schockemöhle (Website)
While Paul Schockemöhle was a winning international showjumper originally, he’s made a huge name for himself as one of the top breeders and equine businessmen in the world. His breeding program includes everything from selling coverings from legendary stallions like Chacco Blue and Totilas to an exclusive collection of elite mares. He also runs the PSI auction, which revolves around the sale of top young sport horses bred by Schockemöhle. Oh, and let’s not forget he’s also president of The Springpferdezuchtverband Oldenburg-International (OS) – the fourth largest stud book of horses in Germany, despite its newness when compared to more established stud books.
On top of that, he’s also an incredibly well-regarded trainer, having taught world class riders such as Ludger Beerbaum, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, and Eddie Macken.
What would Dressage be without judging? Competitors strive to make the judges happy, and years of work has to be objectively assessed by these same judges.
As an FEI 5* judge, Janet Foy has judged at multiple Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, US Championships, and pretty much every other dressage show you can think of! When you reach the very top levels of the sport, the medals are often separated by less than 1% – and the knowledge needed to discern whether a piaffe is a 6.5 or a 7 is immense. Talk about pressure!
Not only is she one of the world’s most qualified and experienced Dressage judges, but she’s also contributed opinions, training, and advice to a number of magazines and websites.
We all know Valegro’s rider Charlotte Dujardin, but who’s the man responsible for taking care of those superstar dancing ponies on a day-to-day basis?
Alan Davies has been an integral part of the team at Carl Hester’s yard for many years, and travels with all of their competition horses world over. Not only is he responsible for looking after some of the world’s most expensive and well-loved dressage horses, he also has to turn them out beautifully at top shows, and gets to enjoy riding them on the trails too. Imagine getting to take Valegro for a canter in the fields!
Having won the FEI Best Groom award, Alan Davies has had the unique privilege of raising the profile of top competition grooms globally.
Sabrina Ibanez is the epitome of a woman in a power position. In fact, as far as equestrian sports goes, she’s about as important as you can ever get. What exactly does she do? Well, Ibanez has been FEI Secretary General since 2015. Having joined in 1991, she’s the first female Secretary General of the association and has been with the international governing body of equestrian sports for over three decades. According to the FEI website, she is also:
- President of the Association of Paralympic Sport Organisations (APSO), 2017-present.
- Member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governance Review Group, 2018-present.
- Chair of the ASOIF Diversity and Gender Equality Consultative Group, 2020-present.
- Member, IOC Gender Equality Working Group, 2018-present.