Eighteenth anniversary marked by top scores and records: 43,000 visitors attend EQUITANA Open Air
Neuss. It’s the “little” spinoff that could: how many events draw more than 43,000 guests to their 18th anniversary? EQUITANA Open Air truly stands alone. Staged for the first time in 1998, Germany’s largest equestrian sports festival for hobby riders has come of age. And the anniversary celebration hit all the right notes for the visitors who’d come to Neuss Racecourse – upbeat, colourful, “unchained” and larger than ever. Even the weather gods felt inspired by the wonderful atmosphere and delivered all but ideal conditions.
“What began in 1998 with an idea, a few partners and just 6,000 horse lovers has turned into a firmly established happening for horses and riders alike. Leisure riding and a casual, natural relationship with the horse are getting more and more popular among people of all ages. That’s what EQUITANA Open Air represents”, says Hans-Joachim Erbel, managing director of EQUITANA organiser Reed Exhibitions Deutschland.
Some 1,000 riders and their horses participated in 200 competitions and trials held by the equestrian association Pferdesportverband Rheinland, the Western-riding association Erste Westernreiter Union (EWU) Rheinland, the Icelandic-horse club IPZV Rheinland and IG Welsh, a group dedicated to Welsh horses. With a total of 40 horse breeds performing, the show programme featured a mix of dressage, baroque, Western, combined driving, vaulting, working equitation and liberty dressage.
“EQUITANA Open Air simply takes hobby riders seriously in their daily interactions with the horse”, says EQUITANA director Christina Uetz. Training played a central role in numerous riding lessons offered by the likes of four-time Olympic champion Nicole Uphoff-Selke, Grand Prix rider and author Dr. Britta Schöffmann, dressage trainer Horst Becker, horsemanship trainer Uwe Weinzierl, horseman Peter Kreinberg and sports scientist Eckart Meyners.
Participating in the event also paid dividends for the more than 200 providers of equestrian products, feed, care products, agricultural equipment and vehicles, according to Manfred Büter from vehicle maker Böckmann Fahrzeugwerke: “We’ve been here from the start, because EQUITANA Open Air is important for us in regards to the different target audiences, especially Western and Icelandic riders. Demand was huge. We’re pleased with the way it went.” Marvin Vroomen from the feed company Louven agrees: “It was a very successful trade fair. We were delighted to see such a diverse mix of visitors interested in our vast range of products. Being a local company, we relish the chance to meet our partners and regular customers and to establish personal contacts. We’re very satisfied and will gladly return in two years.”.
“The entire spectrum of equestrian athletes is represented here – in a key region of equestrianism, no less”, says Conni Fritz, managing director of Ludger Beerbaum Produkte GmbH. “Our debut at EQUITANA Open Air was a success.”
The next EQUITANA Open Air will take place in Neuss in two years. EQUITANA, the Equestrian Sports World Fair, will take place in Essen from 18 to 26 March 2017.