World of Showjumping
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Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s next chapter: “I am excited to share my knowledge”

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping “A change has come in my life, and I am shifting my focus,” Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum tells World of Showjumping. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



“It’s actually a very exciting time for me,” Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum says as World of Showjumping gets a unique opportunity to catch up with the American-German legend. Michaels-Beerbaum needs no introduction. Back in 2004, she became the first – and only – female rider to have been ranked as no. one in the world. She is in the exclusive group of riders that have won the World Cup Final three times. She was crowned European Champion in 2007, Team World Champion in 2010, won the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in 2005 and has countless medals as well as major Grand Prix and Nations Cup victories. 

Lately, however, it’s been rather quiet for Meredith. “A change has come in my life, and I am shifting my focus,” Meredith tells. “I am not competing as much as I did before with as many horses. For years and years, I have been constantly on the road. I have travelled from show to show, chasing results, chasing world ranking points. I’ve now come to a stage in my life where I would like to do other things as well,” she explains. 

“I have a lot more time to focus on students now than I did before and I am excited to share my knowledge. Beginning next year, I will be spending more time training. It feels like the right time to start a new chapter,” Meredith continues. “However, it does not mean in any way that I am giving up on my competition career. I am still dreaming of winning the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen one more time and I hope to be on the podium for Germany again soon! For me, CHIO Aachen is the best of the best, and I really missed it when I was not competing there this year. It is a really special venue, and I definitely am counting on being back.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping “I think a great part of my success has been the fact that Markus and I have been a good team," Meredith says when speaking about her tremendous career. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Now, Meredith is looking forward to helping other riders achieve their goals. “I would like to train motivated people, who want to take on a challenge and work hard to reach their goals,” she says. 

“I have spent my life trying to perfect every aspect of my sports career,” Meredith explains. “I think a great part of my success has been the fact that Markus and I have been a good team. We have been able to focus on goals and achieve them. That involves a lot of planning and hard work. Everything from picking the right horse, surrounding yourself with the right team, determining the right schedule, to having the right management. It’s about designing a program to get horse and rider to where they should be at the right time, which is intricate and complicated.” Their system has already proven successful not only for Meredith, but for riders like Lucy Davis who was able to win a team silver medal at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, and Chloe Reid who has successfully represented her country in many Nations Cups and recently won the Grand Prix of Wiesbaden.

“I don’t plan on having a huge operation,” Meredith continues, “It will be an exclusive set-up. I want to be a hands-on trainer and be there for my students every time they go in the ring. I will be available beginning 2020 in Florida, and for a European summer tour following that.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping “I think my advantage is that I have gotten the best of two worlds, the American system and the German system,” Meredith tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

What separates Meredith from many other trainers is not only that she has been one of the world’s best riders for more than two decades. “I think my advantage is that I have gotten the best of two worlds, the American system and the German system,” she says. “In the States I grew up with the hunter and equitation system and got all my important basics through that – precision, position, line and track. At 21, I went to Europe. There I learned about dressage and management, starting at Paul Schockemöhle’s stables. I was able to combine the two systems and design my own.” Of course, watching generations of all the world’s best riders at the best shows has also influenced Meredith’s riding. “You take pieces from what you see others do and make them work for you,” she explains.

“Adjusting and adapting, that’s what I have done.  Particularly because I am a small person,” Meredith says. “Some think that it is an advantage being little, but it’s not always easy to control these powerful animals,” she laughs. 

Meredith reveals that her new adventure is the result of an interest sparked by her and Markus’ 9-year-old daughter Brianne. “Brianne is completely crazy about the horses and the sport, and in love with everything about it,” Meredith tells proudly. “However, in the beginning Brianne was a bit skeptical whether or not mommy could handle the job training her. But it has turned out to be fun to work together and we both really enjoy it!” Patricia Griffith trains Brianne when they are in Florida and Meredith does when they are in Germany. “I have tremendous joy in teaching Brianne, and I find myself returning to the great basics of the American system. It remains one of the best systems that a young rider can have. The other night,” Meredith adds, “ I stayed up to watch the Maclay Finals. I know some of the kids who were riding. It was really fun to watch. I have brought so much of this back into Brianne’s training.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "I want to be a hands-on trainer," Meredith explains. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

In addition to competing and training, Meredith also sees herself doing a few selected clinics. “I was recently in California, back with my former trainer Karen Healey at Georgy Maskrey-Segesman’s barn, to do a clinic and it was really rewarding.  I got a lot of positive feedback. I hope to do some more like that in the future.”

Meredith has also enjoyed having time to be actively involved in local charity work in Niedersachsen, the area where she lives. One of the charities is the Special Olympics Niedersachsen. “Members of the Special Olympics have come to our farm in Thedinghausen to watch us ride, meet our staff, and enjoy the horses on two different occasions,” Meredith explains. As a result, Meredith has established a nice relationship with the group. “The Special Olympics Niedersachsen’s next event is in Hannover where I will get to see them compete in track and field events, swimming and table tennis. I am invited to take part in the opening ceremonies. This gives me a lot of pride and joy.” 

“I am also an ambassador for Löwenherz, a child and youth hospice close to Bremen,” Meredith continues. “This is another charity close to my heart. The hospice made a major impression on me when I first visited them a few years ago. It’s such a wonderful place for families that have been suffering.” Families can come there to get necessary help they need for their children who often require 24-hour assistance. This takes the load off their shoulders and enables them to have time to do other things. In addition, they are provided assistance in dealing with the incredibly difficult situation they have to face. “I was shocked to find out that the hospice was financed by private funds and donations only. Markus and I wanted to find a way to contribute. We announced a weekend clinic where the fees would be donated to Löwenherz. In a few days we received 125 applications for 16 spots! Markus and I looked carefully through all the resumes and videos to choose our group of riders. We had a great clinic and managed to raise a nice amount of money for Löwenherz. I am very happy that I finally have the opportunity to use my position to help others,” Meredith confirms. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "It feels like the right time to start a new chapter,” Meredith tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“There is no question that having Brianne has changed me,” Meredith smiles when explaining what has caused her to prioritize her time differently. “I remember when I was pregnant, I was told again and again that having a child would change my life and my focus. But after I had Brianne, I went back to the sport as quickly as I could.”  The very same year Meredith competed at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky – winning gold with the German team.  “Everything seemed the same, “ Meredith remembers. “But with time, however, I did change,” she recalls.  “Brianne opened up a whole new world for me. I love taking part in her daily life and spending time with her doing the things she loves.”  Meredith explains how Brianne is so optimistic and excited about so many different aspects of life.  “Seeing the world through her eyes is so motivating.  Brianne has reminded me how lucky we are, pointed out all the things we have to enjoy, and, most importantly, shown me that it is time to give back.”


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