Ocala (dpa) – The flight into the sun away from wintry, cloudy Germany is a tradition for André Thieme. For more than 20 years, the show jumper from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has been traveling to Florida for several weeks every year.
He’s been back in the Sunshine State since last Saturday. But that has little to do with vacation. For the 46-year-old from Plau am See, the stay is above all work – for sport and for business.
On the one hand, he competes in the two week-long winter tournament series in Ocala and in Wellington, 380 kilometers to the south, where highly prized competitions are advertised week after week until the beginning of April. On the other hand, he uses the time for intensive customer care and support. After all, he is not only a rider, but also a horse dealer. “All of my customers are in America,” says Thieme.
Florida trip for Thieme Tradition
He has maintained relations with the USA for a long time. In 1998, the three-time Derby winner was recommended to Tim Grubb by the youth national coach at the time, Kurt Gravemeier. “I was planning to go to the USA anyway. I wanted to broaden my horizons and improve my language skills,” says Thieme. “That fit.”
He worked for the British-American world-class rider, who died in 2010, for a year and a half. In the spring and summer, Grubb and Thieme were on Long Island near New York, and in the fall and winter they went to tournaments in Florida. “During this time I met a lot of friends who are still my most important business partners today,” says Thieme.
In terms of sport, he has long since made a name for himself at the tournaments in Ocala and Wellington. “I have a certain status in America because of the victories in the million-dollar grand prix. That’s why they’ve always liked me,” he says. The fact that he became European champion last September doesn’t matter in the USA. “They know I’m coming anyway.”
Mare Chakaria in the USA
Before his arrival last weekend, he sent six horses across the Atlantic, including his EM successful mare Chakaria. In addition to Thieme, two employees are in Florida. He has to plan a travel budget of over 100,000 euros. “If things go well in sport, it can be lucrative. And if a horse is sold, then it’s worth it,” says Thieme about the investment.
Other German riders have also recognized the sporting value of a trip to Florida. Daniel Deußer, who lives in Belgium, Philipp Weishaupt from Riesenbeck and Richard Vogel from Marburg are also there.
Last year, Thieme and Chakaria, with their strong results in the USA, brought up a place in the Olympic and European Championship team under national coach Otto Becker. Especially since the open-air tournaments in Europe were not canceled because of Corona, but because of a herpes virus that is dangerous for horses.
“Last year I had to fight for my goal,” says Thieme. “There was also a lot more pressure in Florida.” This year it’s different. At the latest with the European Championship title and silver with the team, he has a bonus with Becker. “He’s gained experience over the last year. He’s a step further now,” says the coach. Thieme has set two goals for 2022: the CHIO in Aachen and the World Championships in Herning. Becker is counting on him.
But first, Thieme is in Florida for ten weeks. And the trip to the USA turns into a family vacation after all: His 14-year-old son is doing a two-week internship for school and then vacations. Thieme’s wife wants to come over with their daughter to enjoy the sun, temperatures around 25 degrees, eating outdoors, the beach and the sea. A distraction from Corona. Thieme: “We will have a bit of normality in the next few weeks.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220127-99-870075/2