Uta Gräf and Friederike Heidenhof
Uta Gräf twice won the coveted Stensbeck Award from the German National Federation for showing great promise as a rider, teacher, and trainer, completing her early training with renowned Dutch Olympic medalist Ellen Bontje and German coach Conrad Schumacher. She and her partner Stefan Schneider then established their training facility Gut Rothenkircherhof in Kirchheimbolanden, Germany, in 1999 and have trained horses from youngsters to Grand Prix ever since.
In 2004, Gräf competed at the German Championships and won the bronze medal behind well-known German team riders Hubertus Schmidt and Rudolf Zeilinger. For several years she has coached the German Paralympic Dressage Team, including Paralympic champion Britta Näpel and World Champion Dr. Angelika Trabert. Gräf's Holsteiner stallion, Le Noir, propelled her into the limelight with tremendous success at Grand Prix and high scores at the most prestigious international dressage competitions, including Wiesbaden and Aachen. With her cheerful nature and wild hair, Gräf's signature at competitions, clinics, and demonstrations is her beautifully ridden, content, and satisfied horses, gaining respect worldwide. The dressage scene—often perceived as strict and very serious—seems to find her, and her horses, refreshingly different!
Friederike Heidenhof has been training with Uta Gräf since 2002 and has been pursuing her competitive career since her first successes at the regional level. Even as a young person she championed "old school" riding tradition. She is keen to show that the classical method of education is not out of date, but more current than ever. She is an agricultural engineer and author who lives with her husband in Krefeld, Germany and Washington, D.C. Together with other horsemen, she initiated the association "Partnership for Africa" sponsored by Uta Gräf to support sustainable development projects in Tanzania.