Katharina Huenermann drove nearly 2,300 miles while making the trek from Atlanta, Georgia to Kalispell, Montana for the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds with her beloved 6-year-old Welsh Arabian gelding Targaryen TWF (Winterlake Tristan x CNF Marteenna) in tow. With a second-place finish in the USEA Beginner Novice Rider division, Huenermann left the arena aboard “Teddy” with a memory of a lifetime. It was the perfect conclusion to a special partnership as Huenermann handed off the reins to Teddy’s new owner, Bozeman, Montana resident Jodie Knox, not without shedding a few tears and wrapping her dear friend in a warm embrace. While adding another decorative finish to the young gelding’s resume, Huernermann also celebrated yet another successful equine adventure with her mother Dagmar Weisser-Berner, who flew in from Germany to show her continued support for her daughter’s involvement in this sport.
Huenermann moved to America with her husband in 2006 for business, and the plan was to stay for two years. Sixteen years later, her story has followed the same path that led her to a life with horses, thanks to her mom.
“She was the one who introduced me to horses when I was nine and we’ve been always together on a daily basis, basically until I left Germany,” said Huenermann. “I remember—it was at the barn—when I told her, ‘mom, I’m going to move to America.’” She admitted that her mom held back tears despite the news hitting her in an emotional wave. When two people, especially a mother and daughter, get to share the passion of horseback riding together, there is no ocean, no country, and no amount of miles that can come between them.
“She’s in it with her heart just as much as I am,” said Huenermann. Upon return from the AEC, Huenermann lovingly joked about the way they fell into a routine ritual of tending to The Welcome Farm together. Every time Dagmar visits, she makes the most of her adventure and immerses herself in her daughter’s life at her home stable where she has 20 horses, most of which are boarders who keep this dream a reality for Huenermann. It’s quite clear that she isn’t afraid of doing the dirty work, and coincidentally, it’s in that humble work that Huenermann has found her true calling.
Vaulting was Huenermann’s first experience with horses but that quickly transitioned into riding when she was faced with having to choose a discipline. After riding her mother’s horse and having that horse develop an injury, the search was on for the right partner. But the “right partner" really was just a horse in general. Out on the coast of the Baltic Sea at a stud horse farm, the owner of said farm proposed Desert Sun to Huenermann’s family. After all, the Anglo-Arab mare kept dumping his daughter off in the ocean—they didn’t get on together too well, and so, the mare was Huenermann's.
“It was a regional championship—it’s a little bit different because the regions are different in Germany—that I took my Anglo-Arab to,” said Huenermann, while describing her favorite memory with her mom and as a horsewoman. “It was a big deal and no one told me that I was able to take my horse to the show and be successful and, quite actually, we competed one level higher at that show than we ever have done before. We didn’t place in the top three—I think we got sixth or seventh—and that, in whole, was an amazing accomplishment. I remember that show very well, and she was there with me, too, just being by my side and being there for her daughter.”
It might be a head-scratcher to think that this is a favorite memory—the less experienced version of the talented rider Huenermann is today, on a breed that might often be overlooked, but that’s exactly what makes it remarkable to Huenermann. She was just 16 or 17 years old and that confidence that came from being capable of competing alongside other riders on ready-made horses made a dream worth pursuing.
“Competing Arabs, no one really believes in you. They’re so versatile and they are really into everything with their heart,” said Huenermann. “At 18, I was at the 1.35m level or so. If you want to be competitive at that level and be sponsored and supported by the state, you have to go a level higher and funds were limited at that time, but my parents said, ‘if you want to do this, we’ll find you a horse to move up,’ and I said, ‘no, I want to keep competing my mare. I don’t care about going a level higher. This is my horse—I don’t want to ride a made-up horse.’ This has basically pulled through my entire riding life.”
This sentiment was evident in the arena as Huenermann and Teddy took their victory lap, claiming four first-place finishes and this epic second-place finish all within a two-year timeframe. Horses may come and go, especially when they’re ready to give another rider the joy of a good ride, but one thing that will remain the same is Huenermann’s evergreen and everlasting relationship with her mother.
The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. The USEA's Now on Course series highlights the many unique stories of our membership. Do you and your horse have a tale to tell? Do you know someone who deserves recognition? Submit your story to Meagan DeLisle to be featured.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
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