Beneath all the action that was going on at the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden during the past week with the Verden Auction and the HA.LT Region Show at the same time, one more very special event took place: Our student Melanie finished her three-year apprenticeship and successfully graduated as a “Bereiter”! We used this to let her reflect the past three years and get an insight into how she experienced this time. This is what she told us:
“My apprenticeship at the Hannoveraner Verband was exciting, exhausting, full of fun, full of learnings, very hard and very great all at the same time… I will always remember the awesome times I had with the team, many fun evenings we spent together, just as the shows I have been to, either as a groom or as a rider, the different horses I rode, and so much more I cannot think of just right now” she laughs, still excited and overwhelmed by the feeling to have finally made it! “A great thing about the education as a rider at the Hannoveraner Verband is that you get to know so many different horses and different people. You learn to deal with their specialties, those of the horses as well as those of the people. I learned to effectively handle all kinds of situations. The auctions, shows, and the riding in front of customers taught me to stay calm even when everything around me gets stressful. I got a better feeling of the horse and thus can now better accommodate the horse in any given situation.
But I also learned that the job is not always like pony club. It gets hard sometimes, especially during shows and the auction period the days become very long and the nights very short – but that is a price worth paying. I developed not only as a rider but also as a person. At the Hannoveraner Verband, we meet all kinds of different people from different countries and different backgrounds. I am way more open now and I learned to approach people and initiate a conversation.”
Melanie’s daily routine looks just like that of any other rider at the Hannoveraner Verband. In the morning the team feeds the horses before all have breakfast together. Then riding, lunging, etc. until lunchtime. After a two hour lunch break, the remaining horses are being trained, some are being taken out a second time, and sometimes there is other work to do. Especially before one of the many events, everything has to be prepared and organized. Here Melanie also learned about the complete scope of things that need to be taken into account before each event.
As a student, Melanie worked closely with the permanent riders. “I mostly worked with Krzysztof Jawid and Enrico Suessenbach, our two jumping riders. For dressage and flat work it was mainly Daniel Fritz who helped me. It is a great resource to have different trainers at the Hannoveraner Verband. I learned different things from every one of them. Krzysztof taught me to stay calm with difficult horses and patiently follow my track, even though things may take a bit longer. Enrico taught me a lot about the education and training of young jumping horses. I went to many shows with him where I observed how he handled tricky situations. Enrico also helped me to develop a better feeling for my rhythm in the course and to have a better eye to the fence. My focus is on jumping, but Daniel helped me understand the importance of flat work and how to get my horses supple and balanced, which makes things much easier later in the course."
Even more important than the trainers are of course the horses Melanie learned from during her time as a student of the Hannoveraner Verband. A very special one is the 11-year old gelding Quidamo (by Quidam´s Rubin/Grannus). He served as her ‘school horse’ over the past three years. “He is very special because I learned so much from him, especially in the show jumping arena. He forgave me many mistakes and always gave me a great feeling when I got it right,” she rhapsodizes.
“Besides all of that, the Verband also made it possible for me to meet some interesting people. One time Isabell Werth got one of our auction horses and I was able to go along and bring the horse to her. I also learned a lot about horses and breeding. On the stallion market for example, I learned how the stallions get evaluated, how they have to move as a riding horse, and so on. And something that is always great at the Hannoveraner Verband is the team. I love the team events and the “Team-Fun” (a team game in the arena) we always do at the Gala-Evening before the Elite Auction.”
On the question if everything has always been awesome, Melanie laughs and shakes her head. “For sure not. Sometimes it is very sad when a horse you love leaves… I am happy for them to get a good home, but I always see it with one eye smiling, one eye crying.” Finally, there is this last question we have to ask: With the amount of time riders at the Hannoveraner Verband spend in the show ring and in front of the audience, everyone has this one moment we would actually like to scratch out of our history… but such a passed “Bereiter” exam is a great occasion to bring it back up: What was the one most embarrassing moment of your time at the Hannoveraner Verband? Melanie grins impishly: “That was pretty much at the beginning, the first time I was supposed to bring the horses into the arena for free jumping. I was a bit nervous; I was new and didn’t want to make a mistake. Then there was this one horse that did not want to go in, and I made the mistake and held him a bit too tight. He turned around, dragging me with him as I refused to let go. Just that he turned in front of the flower pots, throwing me head forward into the flowers…. It must have looked quite hilarious… Today I can laugh about it, but back then I wanted to just disappear in the ground… But I guess those are the learning experiences you make.” She smiles and adds: “You always think it’s all such a big deal, but in the end, it’s not really that bad. As you said, everyone has one of these stories.”
For now Melanie will stay with the Hannoveraner Verband. For how long? Well, she does not know yet. She might want to go and get some experience and see how things are done elsewhere, but those are questions she will figure out over the next year. For now she is happy the first big hurdle is taken. And we are happy with her – and very proud of her!