Dreams come true

Katharina Offel is one of the most successful lady riders in the world. Born in Rosenheim, Germany, since 2005 she is Ukraine's standard-bearer

  • #jumping
  • #WEG
  • #european championship
  • #ukrainian

Susanna Cottica Animo

Passion and a constant positive attitude guide all her choices. Among the world's best lady riders is Katharina Offel, since 2005 Ukraine's standard-bearer. “Nothing is impossible”, you just need to believe in yourself. This is the motto of Katharina Offel, of German origin, but a Ukraine national. Born in Rosenheim, in Germany, she started horse riding at the age of seven, thanks to the passion of her parents.
From Kathi was 13 years old until she was 16 she competed both in showjumping and eventing, but at the age of 16 she dedicated to showjumping only: "At the equestrian centre that I attended there were no ponies - recalls Katharina - so I immediately started riding the school horses. Already at eight and nine years, I was riding some of the horses that a number of individuals at the centre had entrusted to me. Then I enrolled at the Military Riding School of Hannover and found myself riding ponies until, at the age of sixteen, I was too big to continue doing so”. Still in school, Kathi spend her afternoons, weekends and holidays working as a groom for Alexander Moksel in Buchloe, Germany, where Ludger Beerbaum, Markus Beerbaum and Ralf Schneider during this time were all based: “ This was a tremendous opportunity for me and I learned a lot.
After school I immediately decided what I wanted to as an adult: to ride horses”. When Kathi left Moksel’s yard, she was given the horse Stroke of Luck as a present. With him she started to ride in jumping junior competitions and put herself in evidence. In 1996 she started to work with Robert Schiffelholz in a little village close to Augsburg, Germany. She started to win some big classes. At the end of 1998 Kathi started to work for JS Sportpferde, a dealing stable situated in Lohmar.
Jochen Scherer at the beginning was her sponsor and trainer but then he became her partner and the father of their son Leopold: “Jochen is a great discoverer of young horses, he has exceptional intuition. Horses such as Lacrimoso, now a winner with Patrice Delaveau, and Tamino of Marc Houtzager, were at our stable and I rode them at the start of their careers. Knowing how to choose young talented horses and to take them forward is our goal, the main part of our work, and is also the only way to stay competitive at the highest levels".

Despite belonging at birth to one of the most important nations of equestrian sports, Katharina Offel left the colours of Germany to represent the flag of the Ukraine, the team for which Alexander Onyshchenko has a great passion: "I have ridden for the Ukraine since 2005; my first competition was the Toscana Tour in Arezzo, Italy, of the same year – says Katharina - I made this choice primarily for two reasons, first because my paternal grandfather is of Ukrainian origin, the second was to have more opportunities to ride excellent horses and to be part of the leading team, thus participating in the most important events, championships and the Olympics. Germany is a nation rich in good pairings, it is therefore more difficult to maintain a constant position in the top team. I am very pleased with the choice I made and for now, this is how things are, then in future, who knows, never say never... ".

The basic training received in the early years was fundamental for Kathi: "It was my first instructor, the one at the school that I attended at the start, that gave me the correct basics. Then I had the good fortune of meeting Ludger Beerbaum who, on the basis that I was already trained, taught me a lot. After him, I learned by watching the other riders, observing and experimenting. I realised very soon that the only real riding possible was to communicate with the horses. Force is absolutely excluded, moreover I am the practical proof: I am slim and small but I ride horses of all types and size without difficulty. I try to understand what the horses think and I try to think like them, to know them and to interpret them. This is the only form of riding that I know. I try to be composed in the saddle, light and always in communication with the horses. I'm very focused and during competitions I bear the excitement very well. I act calmly and with control. Of course, there are competitions that provoke strong feelings in me, such as Aachen for instance, that I think is the most important competition. Inside me I keep the emotions of a few particular moments of my career, such as the WEG of Aachen, Lexington and Caen and the Grand Prix victories. How could I forget certain times? Yet they happen ... and the secret? To believe in yourself, to never give up. Nothing is impossible.

In the autumn of 2013 Kathi left Lohmar and started up her own company: Katharina Offel Sporthorses. Kathi based herself at Liane Müller’s beautiful yard in Wipperfürth. In September 2014 Kathi competed at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy on Charlie, ending 9th with the Ukrainian team and 45th individually. In January 2015 Kathi moved to Guttecoven, Netherlands. With a growing business Kathi realized that she was in need of more space to be able to expand, and also to have the possibility to welcome students. The location is perfect, with only 20 km to Maastricht, 20 km to Lanaken and 40 km to Aachen: in the heart of the horse world. The facilities are also fantastic; there are a big indoor and a big outdoor, a derby field, a race track, walker, lunge ring, grass fields and almost thirty boxes.