It was a family affair for Grand Prix rider Christian Brühe and his daughter Esther at the 2014 Barcelona Dressage Tour CDI, which was held two weeks in a row at Can Alzina near Barcelona, Spain, from 19 - 30 March 2014. While father Christian reconfirmed his 2014 World Equestrian Games' qualification scores in the big tour, daughter Esther swept the board in the Young Riders' division.
The 20-year old Esther Brühe and her bay gelding Quebec kicked off the week with a victory in the team championship test on a score of 68.658%. She finished second in the Individual with 69.447% and dominated the kur to music with a winning 73.95% well ahead of the competition. Esther and her bay gelding Quebec started the 2014 CDI show season with a bang.
"It was such a great experience to ride in this competition. The location and the atmosphere were amazing," Esther rejoiced. "It was the first competition we did this year and I loved that Quebec was eager to present himself. I could feel he had enough energy to keep his level throughout all three tests so that I could experiment a bit and really push us to do our very best."
Quebec is a 13-year old Oldenburg gelding by Quattro B x Sandro which has been in the family for eight years. "Quebec is a wonderful horse. At competitions I can trust him to give me 200%," Esther explained. "When he comes into the arena his movements always get bigger - I can tell he loves the attention. He is also a very relaxed horse, he is not getting nervous or scared easily and completely focuses on me during competitions. That is giving me a lot of security and makes him a perfect sports partner."
Esther is a dedicated student of business and philosophy at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management and could only free her school schedule for the first week of competition in Spain. Studying in Frankfurt, Esther primarily works with local Grand Prix rider Thomas Wagner, who runs a dressage yard on the outskirts of Frankfurt.
"We focus on getting Quebec really in front of my leg so that he engages quickly from behind," Esther disclosed about her training program with Wagner. "We do a lot of transitions within and between the gaits. I then feel him become very subtle in the hand and react to the smallest aids which gives me a great feeling. Because he is a very experienced horse, we don’t put too much emphasize on the movements themselves, but rather use them to work on his strength and gymnastic ability."
At Barcelona, her father stepped in to coach his daughter as the pair of eyes on the ground during the warm-up.
"I feel very blessed to be able to share this amazing sport with my dad. To me he is a huge support and a great role model, especially in terms of combining high level riding with his full-time job," she said. "I also believe we are such a great team, because my dad is also competing and therefore knows exactly how I feel before the test and what needs to be said. Also, because my father brought Quebec into the sport and competed him a lot, he knows for sure how Quebec feels and how he reacts to my aids - sometimes I even get the impression he’s sitting right beside me on my horse! That really simplifies the communication between us and makes our training super efficient."
Proud of his daughter, Christian confessed that he was thrilled to work with Esther at the show in sunny Spain. Her double victory was just the icing on the cake.
"It was such a nice experience to do the father-daughter training," Christian admitted. "It went really well and felt very intimate. I can recommend it to any parent who has the nerves for it," he added jokingly. "Barcelona was a super show, well organized and very professional. It was a show from riders for riders."
Competing for Palestine, Christian and his 15-year old Holsteiner gelding Cinco de Mayo (by Coriander x Alcatraz) have qualified for the 2014 World Equestrian Games held in Normandy in August. Barcelona was their first stop and a preparatory show on the road to Caen. Brühe has planned on competing at the CDI's in Radzionkow, Compiègne, the test-event in Caen and finally Deauville before heading to WEG.
The 52-year old Cologne based Brühe works full-time in corporate business running his multinational Uniplan, a world player in the Live Communication business. He is trained by the Krefeld (GER) based Finnish Grand Prix rider and coach Henri Ruoste.
"It's our goal to qualify for the Special at the World Equestrian Games," said Christian. "Henri and I strongly believe Cinco has the ability and we are now working on getting him to show it. I'm trying to make him open more in the shoulder and get him bigger in front of me. Until now I have always focused on accuracy and clean riding. I think we've nailed that and now we want to achieve more expression."
Christian revealed that Henri's youthful energy rubs off on him. He feels fueled and inspired to explore new horizons. He now works with a complete team of professionals that can fine-tune and professionalize every aspect in order for him and his horse to become a top high performance pair.
"We have really consolidated our training partnership," Christian said about Henri. "It is totally refreshing to work with a young coach who is open to including other experiences and trainers. Wonderful home and show grooms are part of the team, as well as a long-lasting physiotherapist who is coming over twice a month. And we add outside help where needed. I'm so happy to be able to work this way. It also gives me optimism that dressage in the future will be more fun. Everything is in place. We're going for it and we'll see what we can do at WEG."