Wotan by Widukind

Wotan – How It All Began

Wotan by Widukind

My “riding career” at the Riding Institute von Neindorff began with Wotan. I got him when I was 18 years old and was just able to afford a horse of my own. He was a Trakehner by Widukind out of a Thoroughbred mare. He was hotter than a pistol and of course was still a stallion when I got him as a two year-old. I tried to start him myself, which failed pitifully. A man who was,, t the time, a good friend of the barn owner and in the process of becoming a professional rider helped me get Wotan started under saddle. Wotan was a terrific horse. I took him hunting several times with the Hardt-Meute hunt, and naturally I wanted very much to show him in dressage competitions. Unfortunately his gaits were just average, but he could jump houses. So it became clear that I had to start my career as a jumper. He went along with that, too. At our first jumping competition we got as far as the fifth fence and then either he lost me somewhere along the way or there were three penalties at the fifth fence. That’s the way it was back then! Training of horse and rider scored a big fat zero. After a year fighting each other we managed to begin a successful competition season jumping at the “A” Level. Because rhythm and a little bit of feel for the distances were included, it was even a lot of fun.

Then it so happened that the professional trainer at that time recognized the talent in Wotan. He wanted him ridden at the higher levels, which naturally filled me with pride; Wotan was already qualified at the M-Level of jumping as a five year-old. I just had to be able to stay on somehow. So over the winter, we trained without the consequences being readily visible. During this two-year period, I showed Wotan at the A and L levels and the pro showed him at M, and the inevitable occurred: Wotan ended up not being ready to even go near a fence, because we were both badly overfaced. I changed trainers for a season but then had to acknowledge that he didn’t longer cooperate.

Then I had to change my dream to riding aside and remembered my time as a groom at the Riding Institute. Without further ado I called up Herr von Neindorff and told him about my crazy idea, bought myself a sidesaddle, and began loading Wotan into the trailer every day. My first trip to the Institute with Wotan was in February 1989. After a couple of weeks, Herr von Neindorff requested that we take part in the Morning Training session in the sidesaddle, and my career as a Bereiter at the Institute began that summer. By autumn I was able to participate in the annual Celebration of the Art of Classical Riding, on the long rein (not with Wotan).

When in 1993 my son was born, it became clear that I had to decide between working with my own horses or continuing my career as a Bereiter at the Institute, because I just didn’t have time to do both. With a heavy heart, I sold my Wotan to my cousin in order to devote myself completely to my further education at the Institute. In 1996 at the age of 13, Wotan died of colic.