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Christopher Bartle Revamping German Eventing
Badminton, Glos., England
by Amber Heintzberger
Ingrid Klimke (GER)
With Ingrid Klimke leading the dressage at Badminton, all eyes are on the German event team. Klimke, daughter of legendary dressage trainer Reiner Klimke, is an accomplished competitor with accolades in both the eventing and dressage worlds.

Christopher Bartle, Chef d'Equipe of the German team since 2001, commented after Klimke's dressage ride today, "Ingrid is very precise and very much in harmony all the time. She has so much experience in dressage, she is able to put it together very easily."

This is Klimke's first time at Badminton; she and other German event riders are here at the urging of Bartle, who feels that the four-star experience will benefit them in the lead-up to the World Equestrian Games and even the Olympics two years down the road.

"I wasn't really afraid to ride here, but there were several German trial-runs and not many Germans have been successful here," said Klimke. "I've watched here twice but didn't ride until this year." She explained, "In 1995 I watched for the first time and it looked too big for me. But when I rode at the Olympics in Athens, I walked the course and thought, 'This looks like Badminton!', so now it looks okay."

Also competing for Germany at Badminton are Anna Warnecke on Twinkle Bee; Stefanie Thomson on Tip Top Tiger; Dirk Schrade on Sindy 43; and Andreas Dibowski on FRH Little Lemon.

Schrade currently sits in seventh place (49.3), just behind last weekend's Rolex Kentucky CCI**** winner Andrew Hoy, who is this weekend riding his Olympic Partner Mr. Pracatan. Hoy's wife Bettina is also a member of the German eventing squad but is not competing at Badminton this week. The couple are based at Gatcombe Park in England.

Following the debacle at the Athens Olympic Games in which the German team was stripped of their gold medals after an error of course by Bettina Hoy, the German event riders have something to prove. Having the World Equestrian Games based in Aachen this summer only adds to the pressure, and riders have been working hard to make sure that they are competitive on a world level.

"We do lots more cross-country schooling now, and work more on our cross-country technique," said Klimke. "In dressage and jumping we have super trainers at home in Germany. Again and again, Chris has encouraged us to work on our cross-country."

Bartle commented, "I think all five of the German riders here are not just here as tourists. It's not a dressage show, and this experience at the four-star level is an important stepping-stone. They are good enough and it's time for them to be here, especially with the World Games and the Olympics in their future."

The German system is well-known around the world, especially in dressage and show jumping.  But Great Britain is a leader in the eventing field, and Bartle has decided to teach the Germans a thing or two about how it's done at home.

"I have brought a British approach to the cross-country and changed their philosophy a bit," he said. "But obviously the conclusion is based on the final result, and it's a bit early to start making predictions."

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