A life for the ponies (from left): Isabelle and Christian Tschoepke, Sabine Heinrich-Tschoepke and Michael Tschoepke.Photo: Julia Hoffmann
The Pony Club Schonborn celebrates this year, on the 16th anniversary of its foundation. July, its 50th anniversary with a colorful show program. Bernhard Tschoepke, then a judge at the district court in Rockenhausen, founded the association in 1972 together with a riding school in Alsenborn.
In Schonborn there are now two plants exactly next to each other. Each stable houses about 30 horses. One belongs to Isabelle Tschoepke, the granddaughter of the founder. And among the children who ride with his son Christian Tschoepke, "there are already grandchildren of those who first learned to ride with us," he says.
Actually, everything started with Bernhard Tschoepke’s wife: "Our mother already rode as a child at her parents’ stud farm in Silesia," recalls Christian’s brother Michael. Therefore, husband Bernhard and the children should also learn to ride. "In 1967 we moved to Schonborn and one year later we got our first Welsh pony named Florrie."Father Bernhard sat on the mare, still in his suit, coming out of court – and fell off several times. "In the following years we went to Wales to buy more ponies there," says Christian Tschoepke. With the stallion "Pat", the Tschoepkes’ own breeding then took off.
Breeding alone is not enough
50 years ago also the club was founded, at that time still under another name and partly still on a horse farm in Alsenborn, where there were also Welsh ponies. Father Bernhard wanted to breed first and foremost, but quickly realized that the horses also needed to be moved. Therefore, riders should take care of the horses as if they were their own, that was Bernhard Tschoepke’s idea.
The largest number of members and the greatest successes were recorded in the 1980s. During this time Christian Tschoepke became multiple national champion in dressage, jumping and eventing class A. Club member Tobias Munch became state champion in elementary dressage, and Melanie Rusch-Graf was state champion in medium jumping. At first, mother Christa taught the riding students, later riding instructor Bernd Feldner from Gonbach joined them. "Year after year we became more professional," recalls Tschoepke.
Also the first rider camp was created 50 years ago. "This has never failed with us, not even because of Corona."For one week during the summer vacations, children can enjoy the intensive training camp, where dressage, jumping and ground work are taught by external instructors. In the second week then the adults are turn.
In addition to the annual Riders’ Day in September, the summer festival on Father’s Day at the riding facility near Schonborn has also proven its worth. There are three riding arenas on the large grounds in the forest. What started out as a cozy get-together became bigger and more organized over time. The club records up to 1000 visitors on this day.
Many new ideas
Still at the beginning of the 1990s, the club had organized large tournaments. Also the Palatinate championship in leisure riding has been held several times in Schonborn. One of the highlights was the show concept for the breed team competition. "The tournaments were not only attended by Welsh ponies, but also by other pony breeds such as Haflingers, Fjord horses and riding ponies. At the award ceremony, there were sometimes 35 horses on the field," recalls Christian’s wife Sabine Heinrich-Tschoepke.
For adult recreational riders, Christian Tschoepke has invented a recreational rider event – a three-part test with rideability, cross-country and trail courses. "During the cross-country ride, you had to jump over a ditch, for example, or stop at the road for ten seconds."This test is still held at the national show of the Welsh interest group (IG). The IG Welsh was founded in the seventies by Bernhard Tschoepke, among others. Christian Tschoepke helped to develop the concept of the national show in the nineties as sports director of the IG Welsh. "It used to be just show competitions." He expanded this to include various sporting competitions. "The competitions have been greatly enhanced and crowned by the award of the Welsh Trophy for the most successful Welsh in all competitions."
The granddaughter takes over
In 2016, Bernhard Tschoepke handed over the upper riding business to his granddaughter Isabelle Tschoepke. The studied pedagogue and special pedagogue completes additionally a riding therapist training and the coach license C. Since 2017, she offers riding therapy for children and adolescents. The catchment area reached thereby up to Alzey. She was currently treating ten children and adolescents.
"We have two riders per horse who pay a flat fee and share the horse," Christian Tschoepke explains the concept. They can ride as often as they want in agreement with the fellow rider, the Saturday riding lesson is compulsory. Constantly changing riders are not desired. "The riders should take responsibility for the horse in the long run." The equestrian focus in the club is now no longer on horse shows, but in the show. "In the past, our riders were mainly show riders in the A and L classes. Today the riders with their Welsh ponies are more in the popular sport," says Isabelle Tschoepke.