Dressage Queen Anja Ploenzke - Dressage and Music are her passion
By Tess Crebbin

Could the German International Dressage Rider Anja Ploenzke (website: become the next Isabell Werth? If you ask her many fans all over the globe, the answer is a definite yes, because she is one of the sport's top audience favorites. Ploenzke is not only highly talented and successful but in a sport characterized by elitism, she is also a very approachable star.

"I love speaking with my fans," the Dressage Queen said at the Munich International Horse Show in May. "I am generally a gregarious type and really enjoy meeting new people. Sometimes, when I notice that someone comes to stand next to me and really wants to talk to me but cannot quite work up the courage, I just make the first move and start talking to them."
Ploenzke, whose family runs the renowned German breeding station Gut Tannenhof, also has no qualms about making herself available for interviews or press conferences. " That is all part of the job, I think," she says. "I am not much one for an elitist attitude - in the end, we are all involved with horses and that unites us, whether we are at a big show to compete, to report about it, or to watch."

Like many others of today's top riders, Ploenzke's early beginnings in riding can be traced back to the parental farm. "We had a farm when I grew up and there were many animals, among them a few ponies. Like the other kids, I started riding them a bit but for me the riding soon turned into a real passion and I realized there was much more I wanted to do in the sport. I was 12 when I got my first horse from my parents and from then on, I started seriously training for higher levels."
When it came to training, Anja was very lucky: the parental groom also happened to be a very decent rider and was able to get her to advanced medium level in dressage.
From 1985 to 1993, she then went on to train with Conrad Schumacher of the Neuhof Estate in Dreieck/Germany, and it was not long before she was able to successfully compete in her first advanced level show. The rest is history, as they say, for Anja went on to win and compete at many of the big national and international shows, including winning the Bronze medal at last year's German Championships. She also holds the German Riding Gold Medal in dressage.  Nowadays, she is one of the absolute crowd favorites on the dressage circuit, highly placing or winning frequently with her current top mounts, the stallions Tannehof's Solero (by Hyllos x Siri Arabella) and Tannenhof's Conteur (by Contender x Ofarim H). At the recent International CDI/CSI at Munich-Riem/Germany, she had audiences rocking in their chairs when she rode a very spirited Grand Prix Freestyle to the music of American rapper Eminem.

"Music is my other big passion," says Anja, "and I love to dance. So I wanted to transfer this passion for dancing to my horses and have them dance with me. Classical music is a bit boring for this, and this is how I came up with the idea of Eminem. At first, everyone thought I was nuts, using rap music. But now they all love it. For my next freestyle, I am going one step further: I will use the music of the Austrian singer Falco, but this time I will use the entire words, meaning that the singing will be included. I don't know whether this has been done before in dressage freestyle or how people will react, but one can only wait and see. My horses love it, for sure."
When she is not busy rising at the big shows in Europe, Anja loves travelling to Mallorca. Her sister, Britta, owns a small hotel there, the C'as x Orc. If there is no time for travelling on account of her full schedule, Anja loves going to restaurants for relaxation. "I am especially fond of Sushi, or of good Italian food. Couple that with a fine glass of dry red wine, and you're in heaven!"

And her horses? Are they gourmets as well? "Not really," she laughs, "they prefer more simple, earthly fare, such as carrots!"

By Tess Crebbin

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