ESNZ’s new high performance jumping chef d’equipe Gilbert Böckmann may not have even visited New Zealand but it is certainly on his bucket list these days.
The German-based international showjumper has a strong association with New Zealand through Olympian and World Champs rider Samantha McIntosh, to whom he sold his home-bred stallion Check In 2.
“Samantha is an old friend of mine who I often turn to for advice,” says Gilbert. “We give each other tips and know our horses. I obviously would not have sold Check In to just anyone and she might be one of the only people I would trust to ride him. I am so pleased he has been so successful for New Zealand.”
He says he felt very honoured to be approached to take on the job of chef. “I could not help myself (but accept). I feel motivated to be part of the international sport again – even if it is not in the saddle. I love to be an active part of success.”
His own jumping career is impressive and includes Nations Cup wins, victory in the Grand Prix of Münster, placing second in the FEI World Cup in Verona, placing in the Grand Prix and North Rhine Westfalia and being long-listed for the Olympic Games before unfortunately have to withdraw due to injury.
“It all feels like a lifetime ago now,” he says the 60-year-old.
He has had many great horses, but his favourite was No Father’s Girl who he competed internationally between 2008-2010 and won the CSI4* Grand Prix in Münster, was second in the CSI5* World Cup in Verona and made the podium a number of other times.
For six years he worked with the Australian jumping team and has worked privately with many other nationalities across the globe.
“I have never been to New Zealand but my son has and after seeing the pictures and hearing the stories I definitely have to go one day,” he says. “There are so many things I love about the country and would love to do – skiing, visit the beautiful beaches and, most of all, spend time with the horses.”
Gilbert says he considers Kiwis to be “proper” horsemen. “That’s something I really respect. You rarely find them anymore. I admire that they keep travelling back and forth out of love for the sport and also their own country.”
In Hamstrup, Germany, Gilbert manages his family’s Böckmann Horses competition, training and breeding operation. The business was established in 1956 by Gilbert’s parents, the late Anton and Brigitte Böckmann. The family also produce Böckmann floats and trucks, a second business that is run by two of Gilbert’s brothers.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
11th January 2021