Most sports riders spend several years striving to secure a position where they can make a living from equestrian sports. However, for showjumper André Thieme, being the son of a professional rider, he had to be persuaded into a career in the equestrian world.
As the son of dressage rider and stable manager Michael Thieme, André Thieme has been riding his entire life. Despite this, a professional riding career was not his dream. He wanted to be a sportsman like his father, but like many other boys, soccer took center stage in the young Thieme’s life. Ultimately, his father’s connections in the horse world led Thieme to choose horses over soccer. While successful as a dressage rider in his youth, over time, he transitioned to pursue a career as a showjumper.
Thieme received his education at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern State Stud, where his father served as the stable manager (Obersattelmeister). Here, he acquired skills essential for a professional in the equestrian world, skills that extended beyond just riding abilities. However, significant success in showjumping was still a few years away. For a period, he enjoyed success as a part of Germany’s Nations Cup team, aboard several horses, including the stallion Nacorde. The Thieme-Nacorde partnership made waves from 2007 to 2011, securing three victories in the prestigious German Spring Derby in Hamburg.
Despite these impressive results, it would take another 10 years for André Thieme to represent his homeland in a major international competition, beyond Nations Cup events. Often, the difference between a skilled showjumper and the best lies in the horse they ride. What was needed for Thieme to reach the absolute pinnacle of his sport was to meet the horse that could take him there: Chakaria. Thieme began riding the mare in 2018, and three years later, she had become his star horse. Thieme has stated that he always knew Chakaria was something special, and together, they proved it in 2021.
Thieme and Chakaria faced disappointment before achieving success. They had qualified for the team competition at the Tokyo Olympics, Thieme’s first Olympic Games. Although Germany may not dominate in showjumping as they do in dressage, historically, they are one of the sport’s most successful nations in Olympic competition, so expectations are always high. The German team finished only in ninth place, partly due to eight faults from Thieme and Chakaria.
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Less than a month after the Tokyo Olympics, the pair participated in the European Championships, again a first for Thieme. Here, Chakaria showcased her best, helping Germany secure silver medals in the team competition. In the individual competition, they were only in seventeenth place after the first round, but extraordinary performances in the second and third rounds secured them the ultimate victory, gold medals, and the title of European champions.
Thieme and Chakaria concluded the year with an individual first-place finish at the Nations Cup final. The following year, they made their debut at the World Championships, but medals eluded them on that occasion. Overall, the pair has yet to reach the same heights they achieved in their phenomenal breakthrough years. The pair continues to compete together, and at the age of 13, Chakaria still has time to achieve more great results before she retires. And when that time comes, another horse might be able to continue on the path that she helped pave for Thieme.