MADELEINE WINTER-SCHULZE Unique Horse Owner with a Heart for Horses

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She is petite, slender and well dressed and prefers the warming-up arena instead of the VIP-stand and the tables with white tablecloths. This lady is the biggest private horse owner in Germany. The riders are her family and her engagement for equestrianism is unparalleled. EQUILIFE has met Germany’s largest private horse owner, Madeleine Winter-Schulze.

By Andrea Berlin Photo:                   

We are at the equestrian complex of Ludger Beerbaum in German Riesenbeck. In front of us at the table sits Madeleine Winter-Schulze and is nibbling on a piece of cake. She is satisfied and almost a bit timid. To own a large number of the best show-jumping  and dressage horses is in a way inevitable. Exactly because her love for the sport and the riders is larger than anything else.

– It’s far from a business relation; it’s my whole life. It gives me a wonderful feeling to work with my riders. We socialize, travel and talk about everything, says Madeleine while her eyes almost tear up. It shows that she is touched. Her involvement in equestrianism is simply unique.

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“I had only seen him ride in competition arenas, but it didn’t take long before I understood that Ludger was one of the finest riders in the world, and he rode my horses”

Madeleine sponsors around 40 competition horses, which are situated at her favourite riders in Germany. Among others the highly merited German showjumper Ludger Beerbaum, but also other well known riders like Isabell Werth, Marco Kutscher, Ingrid Klimke, Karin Rehbein and Ina Saalbach-Müller to mention a few.

An additional thirty horses are home on her own horse farm outside of Hannover. 15 of her horses are trained there by educated riders and 15 are the results of her own breeding, where they are raised outside in pastures on full turnout.

German Champion

But Madeleine is more than just a horse owner; she was once a successful rider in her younger days.

– My career started early with the horse Coca Cola, he was swapped for a tractor by my dad. A horse that proved to be pretty good, and in 1959 gave me my first German championship title in dressage, she says and reminisces about her youth.

– The horse was named after the famous soft drink her father had licence to bottle in Germany. Besides this he also was the chief representative for Volkswagen. Eduard was a prosperous businessman who set up a large part of the German car sales in Berlin.

More and More Horses

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“When Madeleine arrives at the arenas, we really take good care of her. A more involved and friendly horse owner is difficult to find”, Henrik tells us.

In spite of the family’s business involvement in other lines of trades, Madeleine’s interest for horse riding continued and the horses became many more. She educated the horses herself for a long time and also became gradually involved in showjumping, which led to several German championship medals, in the years 1969 and 1975. She participated also in various international championships, and before long she was one of Germany’s most flourishing riders at the time.

Madeleine became a professional rider, but didn’t want to call herself that, since she didn’t make a living of the sport. Together with her husband, Dieter Schulze, who was also a showjumper, she continued the horse enterprise at home.

– One day I lost the motivation to continue as a rider. My best horse was injured, which coincided with the death of my trainer, Herbert Rehbein. In 1996 neither my husband nor I did ride anymore, and the time had come to look for some really first-rate riders to take over the training of our horses.

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“If he gets poles down, I pity him, not because of the result, but because he is so disappointed himself.”


Like a Family

Ludger has sat down at the table with us. In Madeleine’s company he acts like he is her modest son.

– The contact with Ludger was perfect from the first time we met. We didn’t know each other; I had only seen him ride in competition arenas out and about earlier. It didn’t take long before I understood that he was one of the finest riders in the world and he rode my horses, she laughs.

Today around ten of Madeleine’s horses are stabled at Ludger’s stable complex, but the teamwork started with two.

It’s not just the horses Ludger owes thanks to Madeleine. Ludger points out of the window.

The facility has grown in the last two years. A new white stable block has been built in addition to a walker and a gigantic outdoor arena. To train fitness and stamina there is a long track for galloping on sand surrounded by birch trees and hedges.
The facility has grown in the last two years. A new white stable block has been built in addition to a walker and a gigantic outdoor arena. To train fitness and stamina there is a long track for galloping on sand surrounded by birch trees and hedges.

– Without Madeleine’s support I wouldn’t have had the possibility to build this equestrian facility. There were only one house here at the beginning, and during the start, it was difficult to get everything in place. She consequently offered me a loan, which I really needed at the time. But today our relationship is so much more than that. We are a family, Ludger says.

Madeleine travels from competition to competition all around the world to follow her horses and socialize with her riders. Her husband Dieter, unfortunately passed away six years ago, and they didn’t have any children of their own. Her relationship with the riders became even more important when Dieter was gone.

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 ”This is far from a business relation, it’s my whole life.”

Burning Interest

Madeleine’s sister, Marion Jauss, who is two years older, is at her side. She also has a burning interest for horses.

– Marion has among other things co-sponsored the showjumper Christian Ahlmann with his champion horse Cöster. The cooperation came naturally as Christian Ahlmann’s father and Marion both are very active in the trotting races, Madeleine relates. She doesn’t miss being in the saddle anymore. To feel it from the ground is enough.

– I get happy simply by watching. The most fun with all these horses is to be able to travel to so many different events. The discipline does not matter, showjumping is as enjoyable as dressage. I just want to be present to follow my horses, never to sell or buy new ones, Madeleine says firmly.

Her ownership of the horses demands no profit; therefore they are not for sale, unless the riders want them to be. The riders determine in other words themselves what development they want with their horses.

– I try to listen to what the riders want themselves. I don’t have any criteria of how the horses should be or what they must achieve. On the other hand we usually set up a plan for every horse once a year.

Safe and Secure

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When they acquire new horses, Madeleine does not want to influence the riders too much in the beginning. Ludger often watch videos and test ride himself, then she accompanies him and together they make the final decisions.

– Usually Ludger wants to buy horses around eight years of age and may then compete in advanced classes directly. Isabell Werth, who rides twelve of my other horses, whereas choose to buy younger ones. It’s a matter of taste, but the most important for me is that they match the horses well, Madeleine says.

– Our relationship is so far from a sponsorship we can get, it is very safe and secure. Madeleine doesn’t need to sell when it goes smoothly, neither when it goes poorly. You can’t get it better than this, Ludger says.

Goldfever a Favourite

Ludger explains how he appreciates Madeleine’s fantastic way of coaching and supporting him.

– One of the first times I competed with one of her horses, I fell off. When I came out of the arena she said without hesitation with her encouraging voice: ”This will be perfect, you’re going to become a top duo”. I didn’t really understand what she was talking about, Ludger says with a smile. – Sometimes even I can admit that it’s nice to be convinced and persuaded by another person that everything will be fine, Ludger says. In spite of that Ludger often decide himself which horses he believes has potential, one time he was persuaded to buy a gold coloured stallion that he didn’t really believe in. A horse Madeleine now regards as her biggest favourite throughout the times. We’re talking about Goldfever.

– When I tried this one, it only felt ”ok” and ”ok” isn’t usually good enough in this sport. In the end he became one of my best horses ever.

Henrik Von Eckermann

A knock on the door and the Swedish rider, Henrik von Eckermann, who works at the stables, enters. He has just exercised the chestnut, talented horse Gotha in the outdoors arena. This is a horse that is only allowed to stay in the stables because the owner is Madeleine. After a serious fall at a triple bar, Ludger and Gotha lost their trust in each other in the bigger classes. Ludger was forced to take one of the hardest decisions in his life, to pass on the Olympics in London, and let Henrik take over the horse. This way Gotha is associated with the Swedish Team and is today Henrik’s obvious horse number one.

– I have absolutely no problems with the fact that Gotha represents Sweden now. I really like Henrik and it pleases me greatly that those two are such a good team. During the World Championships I in fact got to wear a blue-and-yellow hoody, so my relation to Sweden is good, Madeleine says with a smile.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to work with my riders. We socialize, travel and talk about everything, says Madeleine while her eyes almost tear up.”

The confidence in Henrik has grown quickly and become very strong, which has brought about that he today also is the rider of another of Madeleine’s homebred 6-year-old horses.

– It’s always so nice with Henrik. If I’m not present at a competition, he always phones me and tells me how the day went. Little by little, I’ve gotten to know him so well, that I usually know long before he starts to tell me, how it went, she smiles.

– If he gets poles down, I pity him, not because of the result, but because he is so disappointed himself. I always try to encourage him and tell him it will go better next time, she says.

There is no doubt about the fact that Madeleine is a huge ray of sunshine. It’s not about her possibilities to buy happiness, rather about her warmth and personal appearance. But without the great inheritance from her father, the German equestrian history would have been different altogether.

– Without my father nothing of this had been possible. I’m incredibly grateful for what both my sister and me have been able to take part in, Madeleine says.

In spite of having very few economical limitations, her biggest and most important goal for the future is to continue to be a family with the riders.

– Without them and the horses, I’m simply not happy, she concludes.



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Madeleine Winter-Schulze has helped Ludger to acquire top horses and build the large equestrian facility in the middle of the city of Riesenbeck, which is surrounded by villas and agricultural vegetable farmers. In the last few years the Swede, Henrik von Eckermann has also been a part of the team

Madeleine Winter-Schulze

Born: 1941 in Berlin.

Lives: On her own horse farm outside Hannover.

Family: Her sister Marion Jauss and her “own” sponsored riders.

Favourite horse: Showjumping – Zinedine (b -04 by Guidam­­­ ̶ HeartBreaker), ridden by Ludger Beerbaum. Dressage – Bella Rose (b -04 by Belissimo M– Cacir x), ridden by Isabell Werth.

Favourite horse through all times: Goldfever.

Number of horses: Approx. 70, of which approx. 40 are competition horses.

Riders sponsored by Madeleine:

Team Beerbaum (cooperation started in 1997), Isabell Werth (cooperation started in 2001), Marco Kutscher, Ingrid Klimke, Karin Rehbein, Ina Saalbach- Müller, Christian Kukuk (young horses).

Daily occupation: Runs her own horse farm.

Spare time: Meets friends, travels to events.

Other engagements: Besides her own riders, Madeleine has supported some horse events in Germany. She has also been involved in FEI and the German Equestrian Federation.

Translation and Copy Editing Ann-Karin Bye


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