By the time Rene Dittmer’s two-month North American campaign reached the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (Toronto) two weeks ago, the German rider had plenty of reasons to celebrate: Not only had he notched an impressive series of top finishes with Corsica X and Burlington Riverland, the two horses he campaigned at FEI events in the U.S. and Canada, his successes here also boosted him to the top of the most recent Western European League Longines FEI Jumping World Cup rankings.
The 30-year-old kicked off his tour of the U.S. in late August at the Hampton Classic (New York), where he promptly won a 1.45-meter class to set the tone for the autumn. He went on to collect victories including the welcome stakes at the Washington International (Maryland) and National Horse Show (Kentucky) aboard Corsica X, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor—Tiamo, Corofino II) owned by American Mark Miness, and—perhaps most photogenically—in the $40,000 Accumulator Costume Class with Burlingon Riverland, a 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Mylord Carthago— Qualiska De Riverland, Dollar Du Murrier) owned by Live Oak Plantation LLC.
Along the way, he entered Corsica in the World Cup classes in Washington, Lexington and Toronto and earned enough top placings to lift himself to the top of the Western European standings. At Washington, they missed out on the win in the $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Washington CSI5*-W by less than 1 second, finishing in the No. 2 spot behind Katie Dinan and Brego R’n B. The pair followed that with a fourth-placed finish at the $226,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Lexington CSI4*-W and a fifth at the $181,166 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Toronto CSI4*-W.
We caught up with Dittmer to learn more about him, his horses, and what inspired their winning trip to North America.
You’ve had quite the fall season here in the United States. What was your motivation to ride across the pond?
My girlfriend, [show jumper] Chloe Reid, she’s American, so I’ve always been over quite a bit. I always do a bit with [Canadian Olympian] Mario Deslauriers. He’s also always told me, “Oh, you should come over here.” And that’s how it started. I did the first show, the Hampton Classic, because that’s right next to his place in the Hamptons.
You’ve shown consistently since that start at the Hampton Classic. What do you think of the American show circuit?
I have to say, I really liked it.
I think I was probably also lucky that I went from show to show, like the Hamptons, and then I was in Saugerties [New York, for HITS-on-the-Hudson] one week and then Greenwich [Connecticut], granted a bit of rain that week, but otherwise, it was all very nice.
I don’t like it too much showing in the same ring, and so it was really nice that I got to see many different places. Shows like Washington and Toronto have a very good atmosphere, and I had a really good time.
Tell me a little bit about your history with Corsica X and what has brought you success with her.
Mark Miness sent her to me about 1.5 years ago in Germany. We started smaller classes, like 1.35 meters, and then moved up slowly to a couple bigger classes. Last year she jumped a few ranking classes and even a couple of 1.50-meter. And this year, she really came through. She jumped her first five star in Hamburg [Germany], and then she jumped a couple other really big, big events, like Aachen [Germany] in the summer. Now she is really consistent at the top level.
It’s super, super, to have a horse like that, and I hope it’s possible that I can keep riding her, because she just jumps around and has all the abilities to do whatever she needs.
The other horse you’ve been campaigning in the U.S., Burlington Riverland, is a former ride of your girlfriend, American Chloe Reid. How did you get the ride on him, and do you expect to keep showing him?
I don’t remember exactly how it all happened. I think one winter Chloe didn’t take him to Wellington, and he stayed here in Germany, and I started showing him to get him going again. It went really well from the beginning on, and she said, “Yeah, why don’t you keep showing him a bit?”
You worked for Markus Beerbaum and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. How did your time with them impact your development as a rider?
I worked for them for about three years, and I’ve been on my own now for 2.5 years.
I think I definitely learned a lot in my time at Markus and Meredith’s. That mix of German and American [riding styles] definitely has helped me a lot in what I’m able to do now: The flatwork is a bit more like the German system. But there’s also definitely many things that I got from Markus and Meredith that are maybe a little bit more like the American system.
You took four years off from FEI competition, from 2013 to 2017. What did you do during that period? Did you ride at all?
Yeah, I studied international management. At that time, I didn’t have so many horses for that level, so I mostly kept showing at the national level in my area.
When I got to school, I did a lot of riding young horses and bringing them up, jumping young horses and some national shows. I always have like couple of [young] horses; that really helped me then get to the big international shows.
Who are the major influences on your riding, besides Michaels-Beerbaum and Beerbaum?
Definitely my parents I would say, because that’s why I learned riding in the beginning. Maybe it’s a little bit of a weird answer, but probably also because I rode a lot of different horses—very many young horses and also older ones. I have also a couple people here in Germany that I sometimes like to speak with about my riding. Now lately in America, Mario Deslauriers has also helped me a lot.
How long do you expect to stay in the United States and what are your goals here?
I actually I come back [to the U.S.] Wednesday for Thanksgiving—we go to New York with my girlfriend’s family—and then I’ll do the show in Wellington [Florida] after Thanksgiving. Then I’m done.
I’m planning to do more shows in Wellington after that, but my horses will have a little time off first. So my plan is to show, probably, February and March in Wellington.
My goals are to be competitive at four- and five-star shows. And, next year, now that I have some World Cup points, the World Cup Finals definitely would be a goal.
So I have to ask, given your Halloween costume at Washington, what is your favorite beer?
In Germany, Krombacher. But in America, it was Corona.