Long-Distance Ride to Berlin Skip to content

Long-Distance Ride to Berlin

Participants of the traditional long-distance ride preceding the World Cup arrived in Berlin from three different directions, traveling with the FEIF greeting message. Among them were hardcore trail riders like the couple Christel Velte and Walter Schmid, who rode the ‘southern route’ of 800 km (500 miles) from Austria to Berlin, as Eiðfaxi reports.

stafetteberlin_resizedWe’ve reached Berlin! Photo: Dagmar Trodler/Iceland Review.

On the ‘western route’ a whole Board of Directors of the IPZV rode through the extremely densely-populated Rhine-Westphalia, which similar to the wild glacial rivers of South Iceland, is not really made for long-distance riding because either expressways or huge cities are in the way.

Therefore, the first part from the Dutch border near Venlo to the river Rhine was the hardest part of the ride.

Yet Marion Heinsdorf, chair of the Icelandic Horse Association Heinsberg, vice-chair Miriam Faller, secretary Melanie Wiesenhöfer and treasurer Peter Kames decided to bring the FEIF-baton to Berlin this way.

In Niederkruechten, the same place where the ride kicked off two years ago, the Dutch-Icelandic horse riders launched their journey of 13 difficult days. However, Kames had obviously not had enough; he afterwards traveled south and rode on with the southern team for six days.

stafette_resizedHanding over the baton at the Dutch border. Photo: Marion Heindorf.

The riders were on horseback between six and ten hours every day, with a lunch break of 1.5 hours and two other breaks of 45 minutes each. They covered between 30 and 45 km every day, apart from the rest days when they ‘only’ rode 15 km.

A cargo trailer, which could also be used to drive injured horses, followed the riders to cater to their needs. But as the horses were extremely well trained and prepared, none of them needed a vet.

In Germany’s leisure horse riding scene, the practice of riding with two horses is rather uncommon because many riders have only one horse and because the heavy traffic makes it difficult.

This means that the horses carried their riders all the way without a break, whereas in Iceland, each rider would usually have a spare horse.

Heinsdorf, who had once before ridden to the river Rhine, guided her team. A mistake could have led to a detour of up to 60 kilometers in this metropolitan area. However, onwards from the district of Munsterland the team relied on horse trail maps.

Heinsdorf describes the excitement at the Brandenburg Gate as follows: “At the rehearsal one day before we were all very excited. But on the day itself everything was as gone and we were just extremely happy to ride along this long road, finding so many familiar faces in the audience. The horses were totally cool in the large group—and we were part of it.”

kopie_von_willi-esserWilli Esser (78), one of the oldest participants in the ride at the Brandenburg Gate.

Another rider commented: “None of us will experience this again.” Even in densely-populated Germany, people usually don’t ride through the middle of a big city.

The board of the Icelandic Horse Association Heinsberg has truly written history with this ride.

Dagmar Trodler reports for Iceland Review from Berlin.

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