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Paul Schockemöhle: “I think the larger stables will take the biggest hit”

Friday, 10 April 2020

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. Paul Schockemöhle. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



The coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic has been described as the defining global health crisis of our time and even the greatest challenge the world has faced since World War II. The pandemic is also hitting the world economy hard, and the equestrian industry is starting to feel the consequences.

WoSJ spoke with a few big names in the showjumping business to learn more about the challenges the industry is facing. 


German legend Paul Schockemöhle does not see the current crisis ending anytime soon, and with one competition and trading stable in Mühlen as well as a breeding stable in Lewitz he has thousands and thousands of horses to care for. With the horse trade standing still and with hundreds of staff working for him, Schockemöhle has been forced to adapt to cope with the situation. 

“At the moment, the trade is at zero,” Schockemöhle explains. “I normally sell 95% of the horses to foreign countries and as it is now people are not able to try the horses so I can’t sell. For the last three weeks, I haven’t sold one horse to a foreign country.” 

“We still do online auctions with young horses though, and there is still a good market for that,” Schockemöhle tells. “We put the online auctions on every second week, with 12-15 young horses and we select only the better ones. I think the reason there is still interest in this is because we sell real quality horses there,” Schockemöhle says. “This year we expect around 1000 foals, so we have to sell otherwise we don’t have proper space for all the horses at the end of the year. For us it will only get more and more difficult, unless the market starts moving again.” 

With a huge number of employees, Schockemöhle has been forced to make some drastic changes to keep everyone safe. “At the moment we can’t present our horses – we can’t go to shows and we can’t do training shows. So we train them at home, but this is also very restricted. We have very precise regulations about how many riders that can ride at the same time and we follow them. We know exactly how many riders that can be in the indoor or in the outdoor at the same time, so for now we are working on shifts. We can’t afford not to follow the restrictions, with the risk of staff getting sick or potentially even with worse consequences. Hence, we really need good routines – for the sake of our employees. The horses still need their movement though, so we haven’t cut down on staff, but it is a bit of logistics that is needed to manage it all,” Schockemöhle continues. 

Schockemöhle is not very hopeful that the equestrian world will return to normal any time soon. “Of course I can’t predict when the virus will be under control and we can go back to normal again, but as several scientists are of the opinion that 60-70% of the population will be affected by this illness I don’t think much will happen this year,” the 75-year-old businessman says. 

When it comes to the breeding part of Schockemöhle’s business, this still runs as normal but only the future will tell if the stallions will cover as many mares as they normally do. “The breeding station is of course also affected by the restrictions, and we have security zones to protect everyone involved,” Schockemöhle tells.

“Economically, I think the larger stables will take the biggest hit – especially the breeding and trading stables. And we are the biggest one, so we are trying to set ourselves up for the future. The education stables are mostly a bit smaller and they can still take horses in to produce, so I think they will cope quite well,” Schockemöhle says. 

When it comes to the horse prices, Schockemöhle expects a drop. “I think it will be just like when the Lehman-brothers went bankrupt in 2007-2008. That affected the economy worldwide and the prices went down before slowly starting to take off again. I think we will see the same now, when the trade finally can start again.”  

For now, Schockemöhle has one wish. “I hope that everyone will try to keep their distance and follow the restrictions. The more we follow the rules now, the better we will come out on the other side,” Schockemöhle closes off.  


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