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Exclusive Interview: Tips from Markus Beerbaum on Finding a Suitable Horse


Exclusive Interview: Tips from Markus Beerbaum on Finding a Suitable Horse

May. 20,2015
Shannon Wright/ProEquest

We all know Markus Beerbaum as being one of the most accomplished and successful riders in the world. Not only is he an extremely talented rider but he has also become an outstanding trainer. In addition to helping his wife, Meredith Michaels Beerbaum, he now trains some of show jumping’s top young riders that are following in his successful footsteps. With over 20 years of experience in the international ring we wanted to sit down with Markus and find out what exactly makes him so successful. He was kind enough to share with us some of his experience when it comes to finding a talented horse. Enjoy!

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Atlanta 541. Photo Credit: Lauren Fisher/Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

PE: What characteristics must the horse have in order for you to consider purchasing?

MB: There are definitely a few things that you always want to look for. You really want to trust your initial impression of their attitude and character which is not always easy to test in one or two days of trying horses. However, you can usually tell if there is something very apparent right away. In addition to attitude, scope and talent is very important. I like to see a horse that respects the rails and is careful.

PE: Do you have a specific type of horse that you prefer or that you've found to have the most success with? 

MB: I really like my horses to have a lot of blood. For me they are easier to ride and work better within my program than the bigger, slower horses. I like the horses that are more of a thoroughbred type that are quick and bouncy.

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Photo Credit: Lauren Fisher/Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

PE:  Do you try to stay within a specific age range when trying horses? 

MB: Age is definitely secondary for me. If you are working within a specific budget and have clients that have specific needs than you should look on the younger side just because the older you get the more expensive the horse. For me it is more about type and quality than age.

PE: Do you think the horse’s physical capability or mental attitude is more important in the jumpers?

MB: I would say mental attitude is more important. The physical side you can train but you really can’t change their attitude. Which, once again, is the hard part about trying horses. I try to watch a lot of videos to see how they perform with different riders and see if I can detect any character flaws. It also depends on the rider. If you are an experienced rider you may be able to deal with a few quirks but for someone that is just learning they can’t be distracted by a horse with a funny character.

PE: What are some of the questions that you ask the horses previous owners or whoever you are purchasing the horse from?

MB: I really don’t ask too many questions. I want to be able to get a feel for the horse on my own and judge what I see. I have enough imagination and experience to see the potential that a horse may have and if it would fit into my program or not. In today’s world it is also very easy to get history on the horses so it is hard to keep anything secret. Everything is very transparent. I’d rather have my own opinion of the horse than get influenced by the person that I’m asking.  

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Photo Credit: Lauren Fisher/Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

PE: Does the size of the horse play a role in your decision to purchase?

MB: Generally speaking no. However, funny enough, even though I’m a big, tall German guy I don’t mind a smaller horse. They are more of the type that I was describing earlier. They tend to have more blood and are a bit quicker and hotter than the bigger, slower moving horses.

PE: Do you prefer to bring along a green horse yourself or a horse that already has experience and training? 

MB: I really enjoy both just because I love riding. I very much enjoy bringing a long the younger ones just because it is a challenge and every day is different. It is very rewarding to see how they learn and how they improve. You really have to listen to your horse every day and you learn so much about them when you have them at a younger age.

ProEquest would like to give you a big thank you to Markus Beerbaum for taking the time out of his busy schedule at the Thermal Desert Circuit to do this interview with us. It was a true pleasure!