This week I’m chatting with German dressage rider Amelie Von Harsdorf. Based at her own stables near Rosenheim where she trains her own dressage horses and is building an excellent reputation for training clients horses and other dressage riders, Amelie is currently enjoying considerable success with one of the most promising horses at her stable, Daydream D’ Arion. We suggest you keep an eye open for this hugely talenting pairing. Read on to learn more about Amelie, her ambitions, and top tips for success
Tell us about you and your horses
I´m Amelie, thirty-three years old and I´m living with my husband and our two dogs close to Rosenheim, in Raubling. Since February 2022 we are running a Dressage stable, which is now the beautiful home for 11 Dressage horses, two broodmares and five youngsters. I´m very thankful for this wonderful place and to live so close to and with the horses.
How did your horses come into your life?
Since I was little, I have always loved animals very much, especially horses and dogs. So, my mother took me to a stable when I was around ten years old and allowed me to do vaulting. This was the start of my life with horses.
How long have you been riding?
After a couple of years of vaulting I was allowed to get now and then a riding lesson at our stable and later at the age of nineteen, after I finished my Abitur, I started to do riding very intensely by doing a three-year apprenticeship at Hubertus Schmidt´s place. I have dedicated my life from that point on completely to Dressage and the horses.
When and where do you ride?
After finishing school, I started with a 4-month internship at Christian and Birgit Wientzek-Pläges Dressage stable in Switzerland- that was my first touchpoint with a “real Dressage stable”. Then I spent three years with Hubertus Schmidt to become a professional Bereiter and then, as part of a scholarship, I was allowed to work with and for Klaus Balkenhol in Rosendahl. Because of a traffic accident I had a couple of years of no riding (very hard), so I decided to study economics at university. After this “break”, and when I was allowed to ride again, I was very lucky to start working as a Bereiter in Aubenhausen, at family Werndl´s place, for almost two years, before the chance came up to go with this small Dressage stable in Raubling, where we are now, independent. Nevertheless I´m still closely connected with Aubenhausen and also train some students there regularly.
How did you start riding?
When I started my apprenticeship at Hubertus Schmidt’s place, I was quite a beginner with very little experience in riding. Looking back, I think this is the best that could have happened to me, because he could shape me completely “his way”. Because of all the years of vaulting, I had a very good seat from the beginning on (he later told me that that was the reason for taking me at all), but he taught me all about the technical riding and the classical education of a horse and rider. Hubertus Schmidt took my education very seriously and wanted me to really learn riding and developing horses up to the highest level. So, he significantly shaped me into the rider and trainer I am today, and I will always be extremely grateful for this. But also riding at Balkenhol´s place and of course the time in Aubenhausen was and still is an unbelievable valuable time for me.
What are you and your horses currently working on?
What I´m always putting my focus on, when working with my horses, doesn’t matter how old they are, is real suppleness, balance, and straightness. And then I decide, depending on age and level of education of the horse, what level of collected work I add to my daily trainings. One of my most promising horses at the moment is the 11-year-old gelding “Daydream D´Arion”. He is in my stable since December 2022. We already won middle of March the Intermediaire I at the CDI in Ornago with over 72%. It has been our first international appearance. My goal with him is to grow into Grand Prix sport. Now the focus is therefore on improving the Grand Prix movements, building up more strength and of course to keep him very happy in his mind and body. He is a very special horse in many ways, but we like and trust each other already very much. He has a great work ethic and I´m having high hopes in him. Our journey just started and I´m so excited where it will lead to.
What do you love about riding?
Everything Honestly… It´s the everyday connection to the horses, to be able to make horses more supple and strong, that they can do difficult movements with ease. To see them grow, to get to know their characters over the years, to listen to their voices and of course this great, great feeling when you have a truly supple, happy horse underneath the saddle. To discover new ways with each horse, but not letting the “classical way” out of my eyes. I think the most unique thing about our sport is not just the fact that we work with animals. It´s that these animals are so willing to please, so extremely positive to work and even if they have made bad experiences, they are always ready to open up to you again.
What would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I love were I´m right know very much. When I´m honest I have to say that it was a hard road to be where I´m now and that makes me even more thankful for my current life. You always can optimise things at a stable and so I will always do so, but my goal for sure is to continue my current way.
To educate and shape horses long-term, to find like-minded people who support us in giving Dressage horses a life as good as possible combined with a very high-quality classical education. We have the chance here at our Dressage stable in Raubling, to combine the sport with a fabulous life for them. Huge fields, big boxes with huge paddocks directly connected, best quality of food and so on. Because we are a small stable, we can watch the needs of each individual horse very closely. And we are very eager to have top people, the best in their field, caring for the well-being of our horses us- our vets, farrier etc. Some people are joking that we are the “Harvard University” or the “Lanserhof” for horses. Of course, after a good year here in Raubling we still are in a “development” phase, but it´s pure joy to see how it grows. We always welcome like-minded people, who share the love for horses and the Dressage sport, but also give the horses the necessary time to grow into it and want their horses to have a truly horse-friendly life.
I would also like to keep my focus as a trainer- accompanying talented students and their horses on their journey has also become a real passion of mine. I am proud of what my students have achieved, on national and international level, lately. Especially those that I have been consistently supporting for a long time.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
I think it’s normal that there comes up a kind of positive tension before entering a competition. But I think the key is how you handle it- do you focus on the negative side and wish there wouldn’t be any at all or do you use the positivity and power which it can give to you. Hubertus always told us when you start with competing to not focus on the results too much. Instead focus on your riding and your horse. So, I learned from the beginning on to “continue riding” in a test and not to freeze. I think that’s super important, and I always tell that to my students as well.
How do you deal with them?
I focus on my horse and me. I focus on how my horse feels, what he needs in that situation and how I can support it. I try to go in a “tunnel” where my thoughts are just with my horse. And I always have in mind how privileged I´m to be able to ride at all.
Your Top Tip
In riding: Never stop wanting to learn and to improve yourself.
And if problems with your horse arise: Don’t stop searching thoroughly for the cause and don’t attribute any human characteristics to the horse (he doesn’t want to, he “thought” about this and that today, etc.). Horses are telling us often so clearly when something is not right, but many people tend to ignore it, because maybe they don’t find the solution right away. Look closer and get people involved which are experts in their topic, but never accept a bad condition of your horse.
I think one important thing is that you really try to find out what you want in life and then pursue that goal. Finding a passion, or having it naturally, is great. But it also means fighting through tough times and not giving up. So, give one hundred and fifty percent for what you are passionate about, enjoy the highs, don’t let the lows give you up and stay honest, decent and humble.
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
I once had a fantastic young mare from Damon Hill under saddle- for around two years, until she was sold. That mare was really, really close to a “perfect” one and I would have loved to keep and train her for longer.
Who is your equestrian hero?
I don´t have “the one”, but of course Hubertus Schmidt made and still makes an incredible impression on me as a rider, trainer, and human. But by watching other riders and listening to them, you can take something from each rider that you like. This is how you create your own path over the years. You never stop learning.
If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?
I´m very much a family person, so probably it would be people of the family.
Favourite colour horse?
I already saw beautiful horses in all colours, so no favourite one.
Favourite horse event?
I think Aachen is a non-comparable event – the atmosphere, the shops, the sport there. I would love to ride there one day.
I love Italian food.
Favourite way to relax?
I´m a big fan of massages.
I still love Disney movies. Hopefully my nephew is soon old enough, so I can watch all of them with him again.
If you enjoyed meeting Amelie you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here You can keep up with Amelie’s progress and check out her instagram page here