Eventer, jumper pool resources in new German venture

Dirk Schrade, left, and Christian Hess are taking over the equestrian centre at Radesforde in northern Germany.
Dirk Schrade, left, and Christian Hess are taking over the equestrian centre at Radesforde in northern Germany. © Stefan Lafrentz

Eventer Dirk Schrade and showjumper Christian Hess have joined forces to take over a 84-stable equestrian centre in the north of Germany in a new business arrangement.

The two professional riders will share the facility at Radesforde in the Schleswig-Holstein region, working independently but pooling their expertise for training and sales, education and riding for pupils from both home and abroad.

The Racesforde facility was built several years ago by Hamburg businessman Klaus Meerpahl.

“Dirk and I have been firm friends for many years and have planned for a long time to work together too,” Hess said.

“This will be the combination of a long and close friendship with an intensive business relationship.”

It had been a long-term plan of Hess and Schrade to work together, and the latter said he was delighted that the idea had become a reality.

“I’m heading to the land of the finest horses; eventing riders from Schleswig-Holstein have always been highly successful and the sport is held in very high esteem there. That’s why I think I’ll really feel at home there, even though I have had a fantastic eight years in Sprockhövel, which I wouldn’t have wanted to miss,” Schrade said.

The equestrian centre at Radesforde was built by Klaus Meerpahl.
The equestrian centre at Radesforde was built by Klaus Meerpahl.

The centre in Radesforde has both dressage and jumping arenas, outdoor riding grounds for dressage and show jumping – all equipped with ebb-and-flow systems – as well as a lunging arena, treadmill and horse walker. The pair are also considering hosting seminars and training courses, and the idea of hosting tournaments at the facility has not been ruled out either.

Dirk Schrade’s partner, dressage rider Johanna von Fircks, will also be moving to Schleswig-Holstein, bringing a wealth of dressage expertise with her to Radesforde.

Dirk Schrade and Hop and Skip. © Paul Harding/Lewis Harding Images
Dirk Schrade and Hop and Skip in action. © Paul Harding/Lewis Harding Images

Hess is a “Pferdewirtschafstermeister” (Master of Equine Management), starting his riding in the Warendorf area before completing his training at the National Training Centre there with Heinrich-Wilhelm “Kaiser” Johannsmann. Afterwards, Hess worked at the sports stables of Paul Schockemöhle in Mühlen, and with National Coach Otto Becker, before taking up the opportunity to work as a Sales and Auctions Director at the Holstein Association in Elmshorn. Hess has gained an outstanding reputation as a trainer of young horses, he is a member of Nations Cup teams and in 2016 became German show-jumping reserve champion.

Schrade won Olympic gold in 2012 in London as part of the German eventing team (King Artus), World Championship gold in 2014 in Caen (Hop and Skip) and European Championship gold in Blair Castle in 2015 (Hop and Skip). He started riding at eight, following in the footsteps of his father. He completed his “sports” military service at the Bundeswehr Sports School, the German armed forces physical education centre in Warendorf, and spent two years training as a banker before deciding to become a professional rider. chrade completed his training to become a Master of Horse Management in Warendorf, and was part of the Bundeswehr sports promotion section, as well as a member of the German eventing young talent group.

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