Dressage World Champion Charlotte Fry will perform to live music at “Horse & Symphony”

31.05.2023 14:51

It is going to be a world champion…

It is going to be a world champion event and typically British: The Dressage World Champion Charlotte Fry will perform to the live sounds of the Aachen Symphony Orchestra at the “Horse & Symphony” concerts. An interview with the 26-year-old British dressage star.


Great Britain is the official partner country of the CHIO Aachen this year. Is that something special for you?

Of course, it is really exciting. Great Britain has so many distinctive facets, it is going to be fantastic to experience Aachen surrounded in British flair.


You will be performing a freestyle routine to hits by Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay during the “Horse & Symphony” concerts – accompanied by the live music of the Aachen Symphony Orchestra. How excited are you?

They are going to be two very special evenings and I am looking forward to them immensely. It is simply fantastic riding to live music. I even get goosebumps just thinking about it.


Last year you were crowned as the double World Champion in Herning, Denmark. It came as a surprise for many, was it a surprise for you too?

…yes, it was. A few months have passed in the meantime, but to be honest, I still have to pinch myself every now and again to believe that we really won the World Championship title there. And if that doesn’t help, I take a look at the medals. Watching them twinkle and holding them is simply a totally incredible feeling every time.


When did you come into contact with horses for the first time? 

I grew up on the dressage yard of my family. I actually started  riding before I could even walk. So, it was on the cards that I  would become a rider myself – just like my mother.


In 2014, you left your home country Great Britain and found a new home in the Netherlands…

…yes, I have been at Van Olst Horses for eight and a half years now. For me it is a very special place with very special people and in the meantime it has become my second home. I am deeply grateful for the incredible opportunities they offer me here, for the many fantastic horses I am allowed to ride and for the wonderful support I receive.


Carl Hester discovered your huge talent and established the contact to Anne van Olst. Looking back on it, was it exactly the right way?

Definitely. There is a very close bond between Anne van Olst and myself. Over the years, she has become much more than just my trainer. She is always there for me, we can talk about everything and her way of training is always inspiring time and again. I have already learnt so much from her. She places great importance on precise basic training and helps me find out what each horse needs in his daily work.


A normal day in the life of Charlotte Fry, what does that look like?

I love getting up early. I am normally at the yard at 6 a.m., I feed the horses and then I start riding. 12 to 14 horses are on my schedule a day. There is everything represented – from the three-year-old youngster through to the fully-trained Grand Prix horse – this diversity makes my work particularly exciting. My day finishes around 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then, I take my dog “Bami” out for a small walk, then we go home so that I can rest ready for the next day.


You seem to have a very special relationship to “Bami”…

The two of us are inseparable. He was a gift from Anne for my 21st birthday. He has been at my side ever since. He is a real sunshine, travels to the shows with me as my talisman – and he loves cameras. He always knows exactly how to pose (laughs).


One says you carry out special rituals before important competitions…

It might sound a bit mad, but I always brush my teeth just before mounting. And I use a huge amount of hairspray. I think my hairdo would last for days without just one strand of hair getting out of place (laughs).


You are only mid-twenty and are already a double World Champion. Where does it go from here?

I simply want to make sure myself and my horses continue having fun doing our sport together. Nobody can take away what we have achieved together. But of course there are still a few goals I would like to achieve.


Winning the Deutsche Bank Prize at the CHIO Aachen is still missing from your list of victories…

Yes, that’s right. It would be cool to read my name on the winners’ board one day.

Martin Fuchs: “Leone Jei loves the Aachen Soers, just as much as me!”

31.05.2023 14:45

He is carrying on writing his family’s story…

He is carrying on writing his family’s story with his name. With great success, one must add. Martin Fuchs is always a dead-cert to win a medal at international championships and always a hot candidate when it comes down to the coveted Major victories of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. We spoke with the Swiss high-flyer about the importance of this prestigious series for the equestrian sport, about his successful, grey horse, Leone Jei, and of course about the CHIO Aachen.


The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. What is the appeal of this series for you?

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the most prestigious series that our sport has to offer. The four Majors are not only the best shows in the world, they present us riders with the ultimate challenge. To compete in the Rolex Grand Prix of Show Jumping successfully, we have to master different arenas and indoor halls, which are all different sizes, each with its own individual peculiarities. That is unique in our sport and has opened up a new dimension to the level of these jumping classes.


You have already notched up two Major victories so far in your career. What do these achievements mean to you?

Winning a Major is always something very special. Something that every rider wants to accomplish. For me my two victories in Geneva were fantastic moments that I will never forget. Being the contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is a really unique experience and a motivating feeling. This series offers us riders the unique opportunity to write history in our sport.


At the CHIO Aachen McLain Ward (USA) has the chance to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping as the second rider ever. Do you think he will succeed?

Winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, like Scott Brash did as the only rider to-date, is an awesome challenge. But if anyone has the chance of accomplishing this task, then definitely McLain. For me he is one of the top favourites to win the Rolex Grand Slam in Aachen. And not only because he is the contender for the Rolex Grand Slam, but also because of his huge experience. And what’s more his sports partner, the mare Azur HH, is currently in absolute top form.


But I am sure you want to have a say in the matter yourself…

Of course (laughs). I am travelling to Aachen with my three absolute top horses: Commissar Pezi, Connor Jei and Leone Jei and I will attempt to achieve the best results possible with them all week. We will have to wait and see what the outcome is…


Do you already know which horse you will ride in the Rolex Grand Prix?

Yes, if everything goes to plan, I will ride Leone Jei on Sunday in Aachen. He loves extremely big arenas, like the one at the CHIO Aachen. He already demonstrated as a young horse that he loves the Soers just as much as me, and he has already achieved several good placements in the Rolex Grand Prix there too. That gives me a lot of confidence that with this horse at my side I can perhaps one day make it onto the famous winners’ board – like my Uncle Markus did in the year 2004.

Royal visit to the World Equestrian Festival 2023

22.05.2023 13:50



Partner countries enjoy a long tradition at the World Equestrian Festival. The visitors, athletes and organisers of the CHIO Aachen 2023 are already looking forward to special guests for the nineteenth time. “The partner countries always lend the CHIO Aachen a very special atmosphere,” stated Birgit Rosenberg, member of the board of the organisers, the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. (ALRV). “Winning over Great Britain as this year’s partner country means the fulfilment of a long-standing heartfelt wish. The Brits have so much to offer – both as a sports nation and in terms of tourist attractions,” added Birgit Rosenberg. The Head of Sports at the CHIO Aachen, who is also responsible for the show programme, is delighted about the announcement of a royal visit on the evening of the Opening Ceremony on June 27th: “The fact that Princess Anne is coming to Aachen, demonstrates the great significance the CHIO Aachen enjoys also at international level.”


Equestrian sports and horse breeding are a highly appreciated tradition in Great Britain that dates back many years and which is also very deep-rooted within the Royal family. Princess Anne herself became the youngest eventer to win the European Championships in 1971, and her daughter Zara Tindall won the World Champion title in Aachen at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2006 – witnessed by her mother, who is now returning to the Aachen Soers 17 years later. Namely, when the Opening Ceremony of the CHIO Aachen 2023 traditionally impresses the crowds as a spectacular, floodlit event. “This unique atmosphere will bring many unforgettable moments,” Birgit Rosenberg is convinced. The big show before the top sport has long since proved to be a perfect entertainment show in the Main Stadium in front of 40,000 spectators. The motto of the evening: “All you need is love”, based on the legendary Beatles hymn. Among others, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, that are well-known as the Royal Guards from the magnificent parade’s on London’s streets, will enchant the crowd with their world-famous Musical Ride Display. They will be accompanied by the Grand National Shetland Ponys, magnificent, typical British carriages and – of course – plenty of music.

“Horse & Symphony” is going to be very special for General Music Director Christopher Ward

16.05.2023 11:58

Outstanding music, a breath-taking show and beautiful horses…

Outstanding music, a breath-taking show and beautiful horses – that is the ingredients for the “Horse & Symphony” Concert at the CHIO Aachen. This year the popular format that is being staged on June 23rd and 24th, will take on the flair of Great Britain, this year’s partner country. Hence, the two evenings in the Deutsche Bank Stadium are going to be special for one person in particular, namely for the General Music Director of the City of Aachen, Christopher Ward. We interviewed the native Brit.

Being British, how much are you looking forward to the “Horse & Symphony” since it is going to be totally characterised by the partner country Great Britain this year?
I am of course looking forward to it twice as much now that my home country Great Britain has the honour of being the partner country of the CHIO Aachen this year. In my native country, the equestrian sport is an extremely cherished tradition that dates with an extremely long history.


The motto this time is ”All you need is love!” – what can the spectators expect?
We have chosen a very diversified programme for kicking off the CHIO Aachen and of course that also includes music from my home country.


Can you reveal anything about the choice of music? Which piece sprang to mind straight away for this year’s show?
Of course, on hearing the motto (“All you need is love“, editor’s note) the Beatles’ song occurred to me immediately, which we will also be playing. And the rest of the musical programme is also characterised by my home country: Well-known classic composers like Edward Elgar or Benjamin Britten, but also highlights from other genres, such as pop (Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Queen), musicals and film music (James Bond, Harry Potter) won’t be missing either.


How long does it take to put a show like the “Horse & Symphony” together?
The “Horse & Symphony” lives from the interplay between a symphony orchestra with a star-studded cast playing live and a unique horse show and a lot of coordination is necessary between all parties concerned in the run-up to the show. The exchange has already been in full swing for months in advance. Normally around 30 to 40 pieces of music are stood on our list and we have to see which the orchestra can play and which are suitable for the show performances. Then, on-site we only have a little time to rehearse together. But we are pretty well aligned in the meantime so this works very well.


You have already been able to gain several years’ experience at CHIO Aachen – could you explain the challenge of the “Horse & Symphony” for you.
It is quite clearly the timing. Normally, I set the pace with the baton. But in the case of the “Horse & Symphony” I always have to keep my eyes on the show programme. Incredible coordination is necessary to ensure that everything fits.


Two shows in one arena that holds a capacity of 6,300 people. Is that still something special for you and your symphony orchestra after all these years?
Absolutely! You only get this exceptional atmosphere here and we look forward to combining classic music and spectacular equestrian sport together every year. This concert is a special highlight for both equestrian fans and music lovers – but also for us the participants!


The “Horse & Symphony” is kicking off a CHIO week that is going to be very British. Very concisely, what can you tell the visitors about Great Britain? Is there something British that you would really like to see here?
If there were scones and tea or strawberries and cream it would be VERY BRITISH and a true enjoyment.


Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum: “I will never forget the feeling when I won Aachen!”

16.05.2023 11:57

Back then the first women to top the…

Back then the first women to top the world ranking list, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) has won countless internationals medals. We spoke to the native US American rider about her affinity for Aachen, the standing of the Rolex Grand Slam for the equestrian sport and her daughter Brianne, who is successful in the jumping sport.

10 years of the Rolex Grand Slam. What does this series mean for the sport?

The Rolex Grand Slam is fantastic, the series has brought the equestrian sport up to a totally new level and puts it on a par with the best sports in the world. Of course, the large amounts of prize money that weren’t available to this extent before, are a big incentive. That is simply fantastic.


Nick Skelton once said with a wink: “It is a shame the series didn’t exist back then, when I was so successful.” Do you think the same?

Yes, it really is a shame. I had two super horses and would have had two great chances to take part in the Rolex Grand Slam back then with Shutterfly and Checkmate. But even if it did come too late for me, that still doesn’t alter anything about the quality of this series. It has further developed our sport decisively and that is positive for the future of the equestrian sport.


Up until now, there has only ever been one Rolex Grand Slam winner: Scott Brash. Is it as difficult to win three Majors in succession as it seems?

Yes, it is. Winning one Major alone is difficult. There is strong competition, the riders are good, the horses are good and the courses are hard. Fractions of seconds or millimetres often only lie between a victory and a defeat. But Scott Brash succeeded in achieving this feat and McLain Ward is on the right track. It is incredibly difficult, but not impossible.


You mentioned McLain Ward. How high do you think the chances are of him winning the Rolex Grand Slam in Aachen?

The chance is there of course. McLain is a super rider and he has a super horse. Both are in good form. But everything simply has to come together in that one decisive moment. I absolutely hope he pulls it off, but he has strong competition, all of whom want to win in Aachen naturally.


You yourself triumphed in Aachen in 2005. Can you remember the feeling back then?

Of course, that victory was one of the highlights of my career. Winning in Aachen had always been my big dream. For me it is the best show in the whole world. The conditions, the spectators, the atmosphere, the Main Stadium – all of this turns Aachen into something very special. The feeling of being celebrated as the winner there by the ecstatic crowd was incomparable. I will never forget that moment.


When you are in Aachen, do you look up at the famous winners’ board every time? Or does it become part of the routine at some point?

No, that never becomes part of the routine. There are many special places in Aachen, I always like to drop in at. The winners’ board is of course one of them. But I also like going to the “Walk of Fame” next to the entrance to the offices. One of Shutterfly’s horseshoes is embedded in the floor there.


In sporting circles the “equal pay” debate is currently being held in Germany. It is about men and women having the same conditions and payment. The equestrian sport has always been an exception here…

…yes, our sport really is special regarding this issue. In our sport women and men can compete against each other at eye level. Because a rider’s strength is not decisive when riding. Riders actually need a big portion of fine feeling to be successful. Which means a slender, small woman like myself can compete against a man in Aachen – and actually even win.


Your daughter Brianne is currently very successful on the jumping circuit. It looks like she is going to follow in your footsteps…

Yes, she really is very talented and is absolutely mad about our sport. Last weekend she took part in her first ever Nations Cup in Austria (in the age group Children, editor’s note). Watching her ride in a red jacket really brought tears to my eyes. I can’t express in words how proud I am of her. Experiencing her development is just as nice as it was to experience my own victories.


A lot of people say Brianne’s style is very similar to her mother’s…

… yes, that’s true. Many people say Brianne looks like a mini Meredith when she’s riding. That is really fascinating – and a bit funny too (laughs).

“CHIO Aachen Scientist Circle” – a newly founded initiative for the well-being of sport horses

16.05.2023 11:55

The well-being of sport horses is the focus…

The well-being of sport horses is the focus of the work of the newly founded “CHIO Aachen Scientist Circle” initiative. The project brings horse experts and leading scientists from Germany, Belgium and Switzerland together.

They travel round the world and impress everyone with their absolute outstanding performances all year: International competition horses are true top athletes. “We all love the equestrian sport,” said CHIO Aachen’s Head of Sport, Birgit Rosenberg. “However, at the same time this enthusiasm is closely linked with a large degree of responsibility for ensuring that the well-being of the horse takes top priority at all times.” And this is precisely the subject matter of the project. Primarily, of course, for the protection of the horses, nevertheless the project also deals with the transparency and acceptance of the equestrian sport within society. “It requires the long-term commitment of all those people, who want the equestrian sport to have a positive future,” stated Birgit Rosenberg, who can fall back on the support of a team of top-class scientists in the scope of the “CHIO Aachen Scientist Circle”, including first and foremost Prof. Dr. Dirk Winter from the Technical College for Economics and the Environment in Nürtingen. “Together we will examine how sport horses feel during competitions and what they need to ensure their well-being can be sustainably safeguarded,” explained Prof. Dr. Winter. This involves questions like: What needs do they have? How can they travel comfortably? What type of stabling do they find pleasant? When and in which situations do they experience stress? Since, of course, horses can’t communicate verbally what they feel, high-level experts with new methods of measurement come into play here to achieve scientifically founded results and thus secure the well-being of the sports partner horse long-term. An exciting project, for which Birgit Rosenberg and Prof. Dr. Dirk Winter have been able to win over further competent experts.


These are:

  • Dr. med. vet. Miriam Baumgartner, expert for equine management, horse behaviour, animal and environmentally-sound methods of equine management – Swiss National Stud Avenches, Agroscope
  • PD Dr. med. vet. Dominik Burger, expert for performance physiology and sports medicine – Swiss Institute for Horse Medicine of the Bern University in Avenches
  • Prof. Dr. med. vet. Konstanze Krueger-Farrouj, Professor for Equine Management at the Technical College for Economics and the Environment in Nürtingen-Geislingen
  • Dr. rer. nat. Arne- Rasmus Dräger, expert for Artificial Intelligence and developer of AI-based camera systems for the monitoring of equine health
  • Prof. Dr. Guy Chéron, Professor for Neurophysiology and Biomechanics of Movement, Brussels University, expert in the area of recording the brain waves of the horse


An initial exchange between the members of the “CHIO Aachen Scientist Circle” has already taken place. “I am proud that we have come together in this form and am looking forward to further discussions and the exciting tasks that lie ahead of us,” said Birgit Rosenberg. Because we want the horse, our sports partner, to feel good and carry on impressing us with its outstanding performances in future too – at the CHIO Aachen and everywhere else in the world as well.

The day Nick Skelton went down in history

16.05.2023 11:52

When you think of the Rolex Grand Slam…

When you think of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, you inevitably think of Scott Brash. To date, the Briton is the only show jumper who can call the coveted trophy his own for three consecutive victories. This triumph was denied to his compatriot Nick Skelton, but his name is also forever linked with the Rolex Grand Slam. In 2013, at the CHIO Aachen, he and his Big Star were the first to enter the now illustrious list of winners of the Rolex Grand Slam tournaments. We spoke to the now 65-year-old about Big Star, his affection for Aachen and the significance of the Rolex Grand Slam for equestrian sport.

What do you do nowadays? Do you still work a lot or are you enjoying your retirement from the sport, spending time relaxing? 

No, no. I spend a lot of time coaching. Helping Laura (Kraut, his partner. Note from the editor) and the students. I took on a new job this winter with the Rein Family from Canada. They have a lot of horses and I manage that.


In 2013 you were the first rider to win a Major after they became part of the Rolex Grand Slam series. Tell us about the memories you still have of the class and your victory here in Aachen?

That was a very special day in 2013. Winning Rolex’s first Grand Slam event. That was special. And I had to wait 25 years to win in Aachen again. I remember the crowd very well. I have always great memories of Aachen. Because for me Aachen is the best show in the world. It is like Wimbledon or the Masters in the golf sport for me. A special place. I´ve been lucky enough to win the Grand Prix four times. The first time I won it was in 1982. Then, I won it in 1987 and 1988. And then I had to wait until 2013.


How important is the Rolex Grand Slam series for the equestrian sport in your opinion?

It is very important. It is probably the best series, really! It is a great concept and very important for our sport. You have two outdoor and two indoor events, that makes it probably a little bit more difficult. Because sometimes you have horses that are better indoors and some are better outside. The prize money is very good too. This is what the sport needs. The sport needs big prize money to bring it in line with all the other sports, like tennis and golf.


Scott Brash is the only rider who has won the Grand Slam to-date – do you think anyone else will achieve this feat?

It is difficult. But that´s the beauty of it. It is very hard task to accomplish. But look at McLain Ward. He has won two now. He is looking forward to Aachen for sure. I mean it is difficult, yeah. But with a special horse like Azur or King Edward (the horse of Henrik von Eckermann) – for example – it is possible. These are very special horses. I wish I still had Big Star jumping. The Grand Slam would be the first thing on my agenda!


You are Aachen’s record champion with four victories – together with Piero D’Inzeo – do you think this record will be broken one day?

You have to be young enough to win the first one, you know? I was 25 when I won it first time. It took a long time. But I mean, all records get broken in sports. It will possibly happen. But it is very nice to be that one person who has achieved it and I am very honoured. And as I said: For me Aachen is the best show in the world.


Big Star really was a “Big Star” – he always enjoyed the courses and was almost unstoppable. He is 19 years old now. What is he doing today? Is he enjoying his retirement?

He is good. He is in Belgium breeding at the moment. At the stables of Axel Verlooy. I am in Mexico right now and I will go back in a couple of weeks and see him.


You won Aachen in 2013 with Big Star as well as two Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. Was Big Star your best horse ever?

Yes. I think he was the best horse I have ever had. He won so many Grand Prix. He is a very special horse. He really liked the atmosphere in Aachen and he was a very fast horse.


You have won so much in your career. You were Olympic Champion, European Champion, have won Aachen four times. Would you say that your career was perfect and complete?

Yeah. I am very happy with what I achieved and I think it is complete. The only Grand Prix that I didn´t win was Rotterdam. I was never lucky enough for that. That is the only one I wish I had won. But I didn’t. In 2013, after Aachen Big Star got injured, so I couldn’t go to Calgary for the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam series. I won eleven Grand Prix. Four in Aachen, four in Calgary, one in Geneva. It is a pity the Grand Slam wasn´t already being staged when I started. I would have been richer now. (Laughs)


Is it actually difficult to come to Aachen as a spectator? Or does it tingle sometimes when you are here?

No, no. I am fine with it. I had my time and I am very happy with what I achieved. I am just happy to be in Aachen and watch the jumping. It is always a great show. There are a lot of good horse and rider combinations this year. Laura could win it too with Baloutinue. That is our aim. The horse is jumping very well and Aachen will suit him.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping celebrates its tenth anniversary

16.05.2023 11:44

There are a few people in the equestrian…

There are a few people in the equestrian sport scene, whose names and performances go down in history for eternity. For example, the British show-jumper, Scott Brash, who entered the record books after claiming the victory in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in the year 2015. Show jumping fans all over the world are now waiting with excitement to see if McLain Ward will add his name to this illustrious list ten years after the series was initiated at the CHIO Aachen. The US American rider won the last two legs of the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHI Geneva and The Dutch Masters and if he pulls off the hattrick in Aachen, he would be the second winner ever of this prestigious series.

There are a few people in the equestrian sport scene, whose names and performances go down in history for eternity. For example, the British show-jumper, Scott Brash, who entered the record books after claiming the victory in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in the year 2015. Show jumping fans all over the world are now waiting with excitement to see if McLain Ward will add his name to this illustrious list ten years after the series was initiated at the CHIO Aachen. The US American rider won the last two legs of the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHI Geneva and The Dutch Masters and if he pulls off the hattrick in Aachen, he would be the second winner ever of this prestigious series.


The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is considered to be the ultimate challenge of the show jumping discipline and unites four of the most famous and most traditional shows in the world: the CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows Masters, the CHI Geneva and The Dutch Masters. Only the rider, who wins three Majors in succession, can claim the coveted trophy. Like in tennis or golf, the Majors of the Rolex Grand Slam are seen to be the most highly esteemed and famous shows on the equestrian sport circuit. The celebrations to commemorate the tenth anniversary will begin at the CHIO Aachen, the Wimbledon of the equestrian sport, which is being staged from the end of June to the beginning of July and will end with a crowning finale at The Dutch Masters in 2024.


Since the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was inaugurated ten years ago, it has had a significant impact on the jumping sport. It brings together four shows that are united in their pursuit for quality and perfection and which have as a result set a new standard for show jumping events. Together the Majors of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping look back on a 300-year-old history and their traditional values are deep-rooted.


The prestige of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping attracts the best horse and rider pairs in the world and thus culminates in an absolutely top-class contest. The targeted promotion of talents is also an element of the Rolex Grand Slam: Two aspiring young talents are invited to each of the four Majors to enable them to gain experience at the highest level.


The past ten years of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping have yielded some of the most remarkable moments in the history of the sport. One of the most memorable occurrences was no doubt when the British rider, Scott Brash, won the Majors at CHI Geneva in 2014, the CHIO Aachen and finally at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2015 and thus raised the bar to an unprecedented level. The fact that he accomplished this amazing achievement with the same horse, Hello Sanctos, and went on to become the first and hitherto only rider to claim the victory in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, is even more remarkable.


The only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Scott Brash, commented: “Winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was an incredible moment in my career. I can hardly describe my feelings and emotions, when I held the trophy in my hands. And the fact that I actually pulled off this feat with the same horse, makes it even more special – Hello Sanctos really is a unique horse.”


Marcel Hunze from the steering committee of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping explained: “The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is an incredible series of events which unites four first-class competitions and attracts the best horses and riders in the world. Over the past ten years, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has really upgraded the sport, not purely in terms of the quality of the competitions, but also with regards to entertaining the fans and the welfare of the horses and the grooms.”


The Olympic gold medallist and Individual World Champion, Rodrigo Pessoa, added: “The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has been unbelievably important for the sport so far. The four Majors are very special events in the equestrian sport calendar and every rider and owner dreams of winning them. Looking back on the victories of the series over the past ten years, I am very excited to see what the next decade holds in store for us.”


Further information on the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

CHIO Aachen 2023: Spectacular “Horse & Symphony” programme

16.05.2023 11:42

“Horse & Symphony”: Horses, live music and magical…

“Horse & Symphony”: Horses, live music and magical moments are the ingredients for this thrilling concern! The unique event will transform the Deutsche Bank Stadium into an exceptional stage again during the CHIO Aachen 2023.

The motto “All you need is love” pays homage to this year’s CHIO partner country, Great Britain. “We are totally looking forward to experiencing the unique charm of Great Britain in the Deutsche Bank Stadium,” stated Birgit Rosenberg, who in her capacity as Head of Sport at CHIO Aachen is also responsible for the show programme. “A magical evening full of typically, British highlights awaits us.” These also include traditional, British carriages, of course and – it goes without saying – plenty of music, which will be played live by the Aachen Symphony Orchestra. The conductor, Christopher Ward – who is British himself – revealed that he will be treading totally new paths this year: “Well-known British classic composers can’t be missing from the agenda, but also hits from other genres, like pop, musicals and film music.“ Such as the Beatles, Queen or famous melodies from Harry Potter and James Bond, for instance.


Sheep, eventing and stunts

The spectators and listeners can look forward to exciting live acts in the open air in the dressage arena on both evenings. The programme includes among others: An old acquaintance. The shepherdess and animal trainer, Anne Krüger-Degener, has already impressed the audiences of the “Horse & Symphony” in past years. This time she isn’t bringing any ducks or goats with her to the imperial city. Instead, she will present a unique show with horses and Scottish Blackface sheep. Greetings from Great Britain!

The show star and horse trainer Lisa Röckener is making her debut appearance. In her new show “A different side of eventing” she will show this discipline from a totally different perspective. The focus here is on horsemanship, riding with a neck ring and liberty training. “I have already enjoyed “Horse & Symphony” as a spectator. It is an incredible feeling being able to actually take part in this wonderful show myself now!” the 27-year-old explained.

The appearance of Yvonne Gutsch is going to be no less spectacular. She will be presenting many special, breath-taking tricks with her horses. The horse trainer will demonstrate how far the trust between an animal and a human can go with her mare Bailey in a unique show with stunt elements. Even “traffic junctions” in London aren’t an obstacle for the well-versed team!


World Champions close-up

What’s more, “Horse & Symphony” is trumping with world champions this year. As an absolute top highlight, the reigning double World Champion, Charlotte Fry, has also confirmed her participation. The young, British dressage rider will perform a wonderful freestyle routine with her horse to the live music of the Aachen Symphony Orchestra. Also on board: The vaulters Justin van Gerven and Chiara Congia. They have already claimed every single international Pas de Deux title possible. They recently ended their sporting careers at the peak of their success. However, they are now going to demonstrate their dynamics, elegance and harmony with the partner, the horse, once last time at “Horse & Symphony”.

Not only the horses will be dancing at the Horse & Symphony concert

16.05.2023 11:40

  Its stories are what make the CHIO…


Its stories are what make the CHIO Aachen so memorable. When Natalie Jungschlaeger, owner of the Aachen-based Ferberberg Ballet School, thinks about the World Equestrian Festival one anecdote after the other springs to mind. More precisely: The popular evening event, the “Horse and Symphony” concert. Since 2007, she has been taking part in the colourful pageant with “her girls” – as she lovingly calls the dancers of her ballet school. Ever since then they have practised for countless hours, designed imaginative costumes, rehearsed smart choreographies, improvised and some of the dancers have even overcome their fear of horses.

Once again this year, together with the Aachen Symphony Orchestra, numerous horses and other spectacular acts, the Ferberberg Ballet School will be inviting guests to the dance in the Deutsche Bank Stadium on June 23rd and 24th. “The atmosphere at the Horse and Symphony concert is simply indescribable,” raved Natalie Jungschlaeger. “The combination between live music, dancers, horses and riders is unique. One simply has to have experienced it.”


Sand instead of parquet flooring

Even if the dance group of the Ferberberg Ballet School are “old hands” at the game – preparation is the be all and end all. The rehearsals in the Deutsche Bank Stadium begin around two months before the event. And Natalie Jungschlaeger starts thinking about the selection of music, costumes, choreography and props long before that. The planning is however slightly different to “normal” performances. There are several challenges. Among others, the sand that covers the surface of the dressage arena. Ideal for horses, but extremely unusual for ballet dancers. “Normally we dance on solid floors,” grinned Natalie Jungschlaeger. “In the dressage stadium we have to adapt our programme among others to suit the soft ground. For example turns are taboo, otherwise the dancers would get stuck in the sand.“ But this doesn’t affect the quality of the performance. On the contrary: The ballet elements are indeed limited, but instead the emphasis is placed on a beautiful show.


Unusual dance partners

Measuring 20 x 60 metres, the size of the dressage arena is also much bigger than a conventional stage. Yes, and then there are the horses, of course… “This constellation really does take some getting used to, especially when the horses get very close to you,” the dancer Miriam Reinders said with a laugh. “But when you are stood in the arena, so much is going on around you that you don’t tend to focus on that any longer. Then we simply form a community together with the riders. One dances together with the horses not against them.“ The togetherness is also promoted by the good cooperation with the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein, organisers of the CHIO Aachen, and with the dressage trainer Britta Rasche-Merkt and her riders, who have also been part of the “Horse and Symphony” for many years. “In the meantime, we understand the equestrian jargon perfectly,” laughed Natalie Jungschlaeger.


Many goosebump moments

Some of the dancers of the Ferberberg Ballet School have been on board full of enthusiasm for years. And each of them has at least one personal Horse & Symphony moment: For Lea Matthies it is the Can Can as part of the show performance with the world-famous Grandes Ecuries de Chantilly. Miriam Reinders and Gretha Wagner love looking back on the performance when they played the white and black swans to the melody of Swan Lake. And Luisa Philipp gets goosebumps every time she remembers the mood in the stadium: “Just before you run into the stadium from the ‘tunnel’ and the live music begins, you can see the orchestra and there are so many people sat everywhere. You are stood in the spotlight. A combination between dance, horses and music is created. That is magical! One doesn’t get that feeling on any other stage or during any other performance. After all that are no less than 5,000 spectators sitting on the stands.” Judith Oellers, who is dancing in the concert for the first time this year, is looking forward to precisely that atmosphere. And what does Natalie Jungschlaeger do during the performance? “I stand watching and keep hold of the rucksack with all the valuables,” she said with a laugh.


Ballet meets Queen

This year, with Great Britain as the partner country of the CHIO Aachen, the show is going to be very British. 14 dancers aged between 13 and 28 will perform a choreography to music by Queen. They will be accompanied by eight horses. “We have designed our costumes to match the national colours of Great Britain. And we will be wearing typically British accessories on our heads – each with a different motif: A double-decker bus, the Underground, Paddington Bear, Harry Potter,” revealed Natalie Jungschlaeger. “The spectators can definitely look forward to an imaginative and thrilling programme, which is dominated by Great Britain in terms of the music, the themes and the costumes.”


One thing certainly won’t be missing backstage for the dancers of the Ferberberg Ballet School again this year – a very special ritual. “Before the performances we always all meet up in the ballet hall. Everywhere is full of make-up, costumes hanging all over the place. One can sense the excitement already,” explained Natalie Jungschlaeger. “And whilst my girls are getting ready, I order pizza. That is a lovely moment. Then, we drive to the stadium together and get ready for our performance. And I am convinced: The Horse and Symphony is going to be a fantastic event again this year – this time typically British!”

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