For German born Grand Prix rider Christian Brühe the pursuit of excellence in the business world as well as the dressage arena has turned him into a multi-faceted Renaissance man. While building his company Uniplan into a global player in the live communication business, Brühe has also set his sights on breaking through in the dressage world and making it to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The 51-year old Cologne based entrepreneur is one of very few high performance dressage riders, who combine a full-time job in corporate business with an international riding career. "Life is more interesting, when you pull your socks up a bit. I have to admit I do love excellence and beauty," said Brühe, who is also a devoted modern art collector. "I want to go for the Olympics and nothing else. It is the same with Uniplan. We want it to become the number one in our field."
Christian's unlimited commitment to besting both is proven by his meticulous time management between his firm, the training of his horses and precious moments with family and friends. On a normal day Brühe gets up at 5:30 AM, commutes to the stables and rides his two horses. He then returns home, showers, has a quick 'brunch' and drives to his office where he works until 9 PM. Then it's back home to sleep. "It's terror," the ambitious Brühe said with a laugh. "You hardly have a private life. I live in two worlds, at least."
Brühe is not a new comer to the dressage world. He already rode up to Grand Prix in his youth. But when he turned 26, he stopped riding – and for eighteen years. Christian finished university, started to work as a management consultant for Roland Berger and later joined his father's company. He developed Uniplan into a multinational with foreign offices in Basel, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Atlanta. They are a world player in the Live Communication business, designing and developing interactive brand and trade fair presentations, flagship and pop-up stores, road shows, exhibitions, right through public and corporate events.
Seven years ago Christian became committed to making his come back on horse back. He got in shape with a personal fitness coach, ran a number of half marathons and then fixed his mind on making it to the 2012 Olympic Games. Taking up dual citizenship for Germany and Palestine in 2011, Christian became a trail blazer for Palestinian equestrian sport as the first international Grand Prix dressage rider for that nation.
Coached by Jan Bemelmans for nearly six years, Brühe owns two very talented FEI horses. With the 14-year old Holsteiner gelding Cinco de Mayo (by Coriander x Alcatraz) Brühe returned to the international Grand Prix ring in 2010, competing the next two years in Vejer de la Frontera, Saumur, Drachten, Vidauban, Pompadour, Leudelange, Deauville, and Salzburg. Christian missed out on qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games by a small margin. "I love success, it's a kind of drug for me," he confessed. While Christian aims for that ultimate success, he also rolls with the punches. "You learn from losing, even though nobody likes it."
Christian's commitment to his equestrian goal has not wavered since and Rio is certainly the next destination. "I ride four times a week, I go running twice, I do yoga every day. I work a lot, I ride a lot," said Christian frankly. ""Those are the real amateurs. But you pay a price, I hardly have any time for my friends and building relationships is not easy."
With Cinco de Mayo Christian qualified for an individual berth at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Caen, France. More recently, his dark bay gelding proved good form at the 2013 CDI Deauville. Brühe has a second iron in the fire with the Grand Prix ready 10-year old Hanoverian gelding Roble AR (by Ravallo x Donnerschwee), which he has shown at small tour level so far. "Roble is so supportive. He always gives more in the test than in the warm-up," he said about the bay gelding.
With five horses in the barn Christian has inspired his 19-year old daughter Esther to ride as well. A member of the Rhinelander regional young riders dressage team, Esther will be making her international show debut on the 12-year old Oldenburg gelding Quebec (by Quattro B x Sandro) alongside her father at the 2013 CDI Kapellen this weekend.
Photos © Astrid Appels