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In memoriam: FEI pays tribute to Breido Graf zu Rantzau (1949 – 2022)

Monday, 07 November 2022
In memoriam

Photo © German NF/Foto Kaup Breido Graf zu Rantzau (1949 – 2022). Honorary President and former President of the German Equestrian Federation. Former Vice President of the WBFSH. Photo © German NF/Foto Kaup.


Text © FEI


Breido Graf zu Rantzau, the well-known President of the German Equestrian Federation for 16 years, passed away on 6 November, aged 73 following an illness.

Graf zu Rantzau was born on 25 October 1949 in Breitenburg, a political and cultural centre in Schleswig-Holstein since the 16th century. He held a degree in business administration and, after serving as Vice President of the German Equestrian Federation since 2001, he was elected as the organisation’s President four years later. He held this position for 16 years until his retirement in 2021, when he was appointed Honorary President.

His years in office were intense ones given the significant differences of opinion between the umbrella organisation and the member associations at the state level. Graf zu Rantzau showed great commitment in finding consensual solutions and demonstrated the ability to address controversial issues heads on.

His term of office coincided with major sporting events such as the highly successful FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2006 in Aachen (GER) and the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the equestrian events of which were held in Hong Kong. Equestrian sport in Germany and internationally was thrown into turmoil following the doping and medication cases which occurred at these Games. Under the leadership of Graf zu Rantzau, an impartial investigation commission was set up, all the federal squads were disbanded pending a review of the events, and a comprehensive package of anti-doping measures was established nationally. At the international level, he was a tireless champion of clean sport and will be remembered for his uncompromising interventions at many FEI General Assemblies. 

As President of the German Equestrian Federation, Graf zu Rantzau was very aware of many social and political issues facing the sport. In 2013, he became one of the founding fathers of the Stiftung Deutscher Spitzenpferdesport (German Top Horse Sport Foundation), for which he fundraised tirelessly. He championed grass roots sport, campaigned against the introduction of a horse tax, and promoted prevention of sexual violence and the excessive consumption of alcohol. 

Prior to engaging in sports administration and even during his years as National Federation President, Breido Graf zu Rantzau was a successful rider, who competed until the age of 60. In 1965, he had placed third in the German Junior Championships in Dressage. Following this success, however, he quickly switched to Jumping, winning a silver medal at the German Junior Championships in 1967 and gold at the FEI Jumping European Championships for Juniors the same year. In 1985, 20 years after his first major success, Graf zu Rantzau finished fifth in the German Show Jumping Derby in Hamburg Klein-Flottbeck. The following year, he was awarded gold at the German Jumping Team Championships. He celebrated numerous successes in international Jumping competitions as well, including representing Germany at three Nations Cups. 

Breido Graf zu Rantzau was also a renowned horse breeder having produced more than 60 registered sport horses, some of whom enjoyed international success. From 1986 to 2007 he was the Chairman of the Holstein Breeding Association and from 1999 to 2005 he officiated at the Vice President of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH). 

“Breido was a strong personality, very honest and always straightforward,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “He was a real horseman with a great heart for equestrian sport and breeding. He made the German Equestrian Federation the modern and dynamic organisation it is today. I am especially grateful to Breido for all his support. Without him I would not be where I am today. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and we’ll remember him as a great man”.

The FEI expresses its sincerest condolences to Breido zu Rantzau’s family, to the German Equestrian Federation, the German equestrian community, and his many friends in Germany and beyond. May he rest in peace. 

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