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Canadian international Grand Prix dressage rider Ryan Torkkeli moved to Germany when he was nineteen to pursue a career as a dressage rider.  He first moved to Germany to begin working for US dressage rider Catherine Haddad Staller, who was based in Vechta. He went on to work for Dieter Laugks in Dusseldorf and as a coach at a yard in Munich before heading to the United States of America in 2012, where he set up a horse training business with his husband Thomas Walker. In January 2019 they relocated to Germany after Ingetraud Bolz asked the duo to run her stable in Cologne under the supervision of trainer Dieter Laugks at Dressurstall Bolz. Ryan is enjoying tremendous success as an individual rider, and as a member of the Canadian international dressage team and hopes to represent his country at the Paris Olympics later this year.  Read on to learn more about the hugely talented Ryan, his ambitions and top tips for success

Tell us about you and your horses

Ryan and Sternenwanderer winning the Le Mans CDI 3* Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle in October 2023
Ryan and Sternenwanderer winning the Le Mans CDI 3* Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle in October 2023
I was born and raised in Canada to a non-horsey family.  I moved to Germany at nineteen to learn how to ride.  In Germany I was extremely fortunate to have amazing work experience with top trainers.  I now realize how lucky I was to learn from all these amazing people who shaped my career over the last twenty plus years. Especially my long-time coach Dieter Laugks.

My main horse is Sternenwanderer and I have been riding him for nearly six years.  We did our first Grand Prix together and he was my partner at 2021 CHIO 5* Aachen and 2022 World Championships in Herning.  In 2023 we won the Le Mans Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle.

I also have my very reliable small tour horse Fantastic Snoop Dog.  We’ve had a lot of great competitions together and in 2022 we were invited to do dressage demos at the prestigious Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Canada.  He is always up for an adventure. Additionally, I have some really fun young horses that I am educating and so far we have just done National competitions.

How did your horses come into your life?

I grew up in a very rural part of Canada called Kaministiquia and our neighbours had horses.  I was always fascinated and got to sit on them from time to time. But I didn’t start to ride regularly until I was fifteen.

When and where do you ride?

Ryan Torkkeli and his horse, Fantastic Snoop Dog competing in 2022
Ryan and Fantastic Snoop Dog looking fabulous during a competition in 2022
I ride for the lovely Ingetraud Bolz.  Our stable is in Kerpen, Germany.  Every day is a little bit different, but I usually ride eight to nine horses.

How did you start riding?

My sister was enrolled in a spring break riding camp but after one day didn’t really like it, so I took her place.  Ever since then I have been completely obsessed.

What you and your horses currently working on?

Our days are busy with horses of all levels.  Everything from young horses to Grand Prix.

What do you love about riding?

I love how the smallest breakthrough can be so thrilling.  Even after doing this for over two decades, it is still exciting.  Constant problem solving makes every horse fun and interesting.

What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?

I would like to continue to develop horses and continue to ride internationally for Canada and represent the maple leaf at major championships. Our goal for 2024 is the Paris Olympics.

Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?  

I’ll never forget my heart almost pounded out of my chest the first time I heard the judges bell ring (over 20 years ago).  Competition routine cured that quickly.

How do you deal with them?

I have worked with mental coaches over the years who have helped me really focus and get the right feeling in the arena.

Do you have any rituals before competing?

I always do my stretching routine before I compete, and I always thank my horse.

Your Top Tip

Ride happily and listen to your horse.

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

Go to Germany and learn how to ride.

Down the Centre Line 


Who would be your dream horse to ride?

I am fortunate to ride that horse every day, Sternenwanderer

Who is your equestrian hero?

Carl Hester

If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?

My Family. Being based in Germany I don’t get to see them so often.

Favourite colour horse?

I’m a sucker for a grey

Favourite horse event?

Aachen for sure.

Favourite food?


Favourite way to relax?

My morning stretching and breathing routine

Favourite film?

The Intouchables

Want More?

If you enjoyed meeting Ryan you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here .  You can keep up with Ryan’s progress and check out his instagram page here  

Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

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Hello My name is Sharon Howe and I am horse mad. This site is my place to scribble away my…


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