Press Release 2015

Ballons carry friendships message into the world

Bye bye Bexter Hof. A splendid farewell ceremony closed the international Friendship competition at Herford. While all young competitors had brought heavy iron horse shoes for the official opening on Friday their exit looked different: colourful and airy ballons rose into the sky taking the idea of friendship into the word. No longer grouped behind their respective nationality sign but sticking together with their international team partners from one of thirty countries the young riders entered the arena where they had shared the highs and lows of sport before. And as always when saying farewells after a good time tears were running freely.

Final day’s winner: team "Chiara“ with Hetzel/ Vicaria

They managed to deliver the first double clear round of the day on Sunday and saved the day’s victory in the juniors’ winning round. European bronze medalist Laura Hetzel and Sofia Vicaria from Columbia finished the secound round in 79.74 seconds.

German-American friendship: Final day’s victory for Siegel/ Christ

Caution and speed need to be matched. Delivering two clear rounds in 83.22 seconds brought the final day’s victory for American Sophie Siegel and Anna Christ, forming team Bella Donna in the children’s competition.

Sport and show in fascinating contrast

Legendary Pegasus draw spectators under his magical spell at Saturday’s evening show. Minutes later people held their breath watching speeding spotted Bram and his herd of Dutch stunt horses racing the arena. „Contrasts, that is it what people like to see and we found the right mix“, beamed show organizer Lars Meyer zu Bexten. Even before the program was finished it was decided that the premiere had been a success. “We’ll do that again“, organizers said.

Allons enfants at team sports on Saturday

„Allons enfants!“ The „Marseillaise“ for France and the national anthem of South Africa were played at Sparkassen German Friendships on Saturday. Children and juniors from thirty countries rode their second competition on their way into the final.  

Wave for the patroness

The ringmaster had already started to rehearse for the wave but it needed the Federal Minister of Defense for fine tuning. Patroness Ursula von der Leyen took charge at Bexter Hof’s opening ceremony of German Friendships 2015. “Faster, louder, now wave“, she sped up the young riders from 30 countries in the arena, fascinating them and spectators alike with her trilingual entertainer quality.

Mayor receives German Friendships family at town hall

„ German Friendships are one of the most important events of this town“, Herford’s Mayor Tim Kähler stressed receiving international competitors from 30 countries at his town hall on Thursday. Led by the Minister of Defense, patroness  Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, one hundred young people came accompanied by parents, host families, horse owners, trainers  and sponsors and took a seat in the historic wood panelled chamber. 

Tony can hardly wait

He is determined and even if he had to lie for it. Tony Stormanns can hardly wait to start at German Friendships in Herford. „Tony is now seven years old and will ride here soon“, says his mother Helena. Even if she won’t encourage her son to say other than the truth about his age she does not like the German rule that jumping riders have to be at least eight years old. „Tony is jumping very nicely already“, she says.

Denis Lynch wins Thomas Henry Champions Trophy

Denis Lynch and Double O Seven won the Thomas Henry Champions-Trophy at the Sparkassen German Friendships in Herford. Clear round in 31.01 seconds, the Irish man won in the jump off against Jana Wargers. Riding her grey mare Cornet’s Dream W she stayed clear as well but needed 31.67 seconds. “I knew it would be difficult to catch Denis“, said Wargers and opted for safety and tight turns instead of risking too much speed. That made her missing the Stübben saddle for the winner. „I can always use a new saddle“, beamed the 39-year old Irish man. 

Top riders' tipps

Gusts of wind blowing over the jumping arena at Bexter Höfe mirrored emotions of everybody involved at the top ten training to open the Sparkassen German Friendships 2015 in Herford on Wednesday. Olympic rider Janne Friederike Meyer interrupted her lesson when the brief storm toppled over some fences. „It is quite exciting for the trainer as well, not to know your riders, and with some riders just getting to know their horses.” 

Host families provide home away from home

Some members of the German Friendships family network are truely host families for guests of the international show. Petra Quellmalz organizes this special department since  years. „Our host families allow insights how we live in Germany and how we live with horses,” says show host Ulrich Meyer zu Bexten.

Uzbek knowledge anybody?

Somebody speaks Uzbek here? It was a babylonic language mixture that reigned at the opening of German Friendships 2015 at Bexter Hof on Tuesday.  Ninety-eight young riders from 30 countries are meeting for a week to experience competition with a twist. “Friendships, not championships” is the motto. Uzbekistan is represented for the first time. And for Okilkon Sobirjonov things are especially difficult. He does not know a word other than Uzbek. The younger, 13-year-old, Azizov Temur, speaks at least a little English and he can try to translate. By the end of the week both will know more about riding and living in Germany.

Horses and other employers

The Diakonische Stiftung Wittekindshof says „Thank you“. Again the foundation Wittekindshof  is invited to be a part of German Friendships. Especially pleased are the men and women active in therapeutic riding. Together with their riding coaches they can show their horsemanship and allow the quality of their work to be seen. For them that means appreciation as well as encouragement. Furthermore, the diversity and variety of German Friendships is a great experience for everybody. 

Career Start in Herford - From Friendships to Championships

Oliver Lazarus

He is the super hero of German Friendships: At age 17 he came from South Africa for the team competition at Herford, ten years and two world championships later he is established in international sport, running his own stable in Belgium. Oliver Lazarus has managed a career that is remarkable - to say the least. And it all began in Herford!

The next generation comes but the idea stays

Herford is not the center of the universe, but every two years when the Meyer zu Bexten family invites for „German Friendships“, the riding „Youth of the World“ comes as guests into the city of 65,000 on the river Werre. In 2015, the amicable horse show of international riders will be staged for the 9th time. “We always moved forward. By now we have had athletes of more than 60 countries in the world“, junior manager Lars Meyer zu Bexten is happy about the positive trend. „Friendships- not championships“ is the leading idea again. For six days some Olympic spirit will live at the neat Westphalian mayoral farm of the Bexten family. Sport as a means to unite people.  „The idea of friendship reigns supreme,“ says Lars Meyer zu Bexten. „That has been the case and will always stay like that“. 

The story of Vicky and Muaz 

The young woman is 21, Muaz Al-Halabi is 20. Her parents are a politician and a business man. She  lives on the sunny side of the street whereas he has seen the dark shadows of war. A love of horses unites them. German Friendships 2011 in Herford have turned a team spirit of sport into true and long standing friendship. Muaz' participation at the horse show at the Meyer zu Bexten family changed the young Syrian’s life. It paid off like winning the lottery. 

4 of 5 federal coaches are going to support Darboven Top Ten Training on Wednesday, 29.07.2015!!!

In addition to Heinrich-Herrmann Engemann (coach of the German Showjumpers) also Markus Merschformann (federal coach Juniors & Young Riders), Eberhard Seemann (federal coach Children) and Peter Teeuwen (federal coach Ponies)!

More great news for Darboven Top Ten Training:

 Proudly we are announcing that international top class riders like Janne Friederike Meyer, Eva Bitter, Lars Nieberg, Markus Beerbaum and Andre Sakakini will come to Herford.

 They are looking forward for training sessions with you at ‪#‎GermanFriendships2015!

Bexter Globe

The Bexter Globe is the symbol of the German Friendships and symbolises connections between riders beyond borders of their home countries.

As you know, horseshoes are a symbol for luck. The connections between horseshoes with each other symbolise togetherness, friendship and become one.

Here comes Braun number four

Without them something would be amiss. It would not be the real German Friendships-thing. For the fifth time already the Braun family from Wolfstein (Rhineland-Palatinate) drives up to Herford for the German Friendships Games. Number four of five children, this year it is competition time for the family’s youngest son. Meet Felix-Maximilian, 15 years old.

Felix-Maximilian has three sisters, all riding. 2005, he came with them to Herford for the first time. They didn’t have a very clear idea of this very special event. They had first learned about it in a conversation between Maximilian’s father, Gerhard Braun, and Dr. Reinhard Göhner, one of the organizers. When Göhner learned that Braun’s three daughters Bettina, Julia and Luisa competed in jumping, he invited them to come to Herford. Happily they accepted.

End of July it happened. With lorry, trailer, six horses, five children and a dog mother Karin Braun drove 400 kilometres up to Herford. Overwhelmed by the beautiful setting at Bexter Hof they were looking forward even more towards the next day. That was when Bettina, then 18, Julia (16) and Luisa (14) should meet their riding partners. Bettina teamed up with Oliver Lazarus from South Africa. Julia’s partner Georgie Murray came from Arizona (USA) and Luisa was matched with Juliana...

The history of the Bexter Hof

As Conradus de Bekeseten ploughed the soil in the year 1219, could he ever have imagined that an International Show Jumping Tournament would one day take place on his land? At that time there were no maps, never mind the thought of the far away countries from which the Riders would come.

The name of the Franken serf, Conradus de Bekeseten,  is the oldest known name of the family Meyer zu Bexten which the amateur genealogist Dr. Jobst Heinrich Meyer zu Bexten found out after years of research in the dusty record of the Muenster Archives. Legend has it that the roots of the East Westphalian family lie deeper in the sands of Herford where Ancestors fighting for Karl the Great in the 8th Century managed to keep the warlord Widukind at bay.  Since then a lot of water has flowed down the Werre, and many a stone has been moved by the hard working hands of the family.

Various medieval documents and certificates show the unsettled past of the yard as well as different spellings of the name. They read Bykesten, Bekeseten and others. The name “zu Bexten” stems from the old German spelling and means: They who live near the brook. “Beke” means “brook” and “seten” means sit. Today a brook can’t be found directly near the yard; however the “Kinsbeke” flows about a hundred metres away. Maybe an indication that the yard was originally in a different location?



Daniel Chen: Horsesport in Malaysia

One of the participants of the German Friendships 2013 told us about his equestrian life in his come country Malaysia. Daniel Chen, aged 17 at that time, lives in Kuala Lumpur. He sat on a pony for the first time when he was nine and his father had taken him to a local club. By now, he has his own horse, a Holsteiner mare named Quinta.  

Quinta is stabled in a riding centre some 45 minutes out of town. It belongs to the Ambak family. Their three grown-up children are very ambitious for success in sport themselves. They competed at Asian Games and won medals there. This is what Chen wants, too. And the Ambaks are helping him. „They give me a lot of advice.“  

Chen has a groom taking care of Quita. That is perfectly normal in Malaysia. Chen rides six days a week, mostly two or three horses. And it doesn’t come as a surprise when he says: “I don't have any other hobbies.”  In Malaysia he trains with Andika Jamaludin, but he had been to Hamburg as well. There he rode with former Danish national champion, Lars Bak Andersen.  

Malaysia isn’t a country where equestrianism is at home, but at least one or two competitions go on in Malaysia every month, in all parts of the country, but mainly in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The country has hosted a few CSI 5* shows and there are the South East Asia World Cup Qualifier for seniors and the South East Asia Young Rider Championship for the young riders in the region. On top of that, some international competitions are arranged and that is how Chen came to Herford. „At a competition in Bangkok/Thailand I met the Hong Kong team that was in the previous German Friendships. They told me that I should go to the German Friendships. I applied and then I was invited.”

Back in 2013, Chen was a little nervous before coming to Herford: „This is my first borrowed horse competition in Europe and also my first ever competition in Europe.” But of course he had a great time at the German Friendships!


One man - many hats

Look at this hat! Everybody says that when they see Pedro for the first time. In Herford, that aren’t many, because he has been at every German Friendships since the first one in 1999. His friendship with host „Ulli“ began in Canada in 1977 when Meyer zu Bexten rode in Spruce Meadows.

It is a rare phenomenon that a man is recognized worldwide because of a fashionable accessory. But Pedro’s hats are really unforgettable. Top-hats in every colour and decor you can think of, most often rather weird like his „chicken hat“ at the German Friendships 2007. Many hats are part of a complete theme outfit like lately at the quadruple World Cup in Leipzig. That was when Pedro wore a wig instead of a hat and looked like Leipzig’s famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

What shall I wear? That is considered very thorougly and the decision is made anew and differently for every day. “Depending on the mood, I always take a lot of clothing and hats with me when touring,” the man gives away. Travelling light – nothing for Pedro. And a small role like „steward“ in the show machinery isn’t for him either. Pedro has created a profession for himself and has found even his own name for it. He is “ring master” and everybody who has observed him at...

February 6, 2015:

Now on Facebook: The German Friendships! If you too like the event, show your affection on

January 19, 2015:

Here it is, the brand-new website of the Sparkassen German Friendships: with fresh looks and adapted to mobile usage. As of new, we will regularly update you on the preparation of the ninth edition of the unique children's and young riders' show jumping competition - enjoy reading!