The end of an era

Tue, 12. Mar. 2019
From left: Lara Livanos, Ernst Voegeli, Natalia Akus, Claudia Hauswirth, Erica Voegeli, Marcel Bach

At the end of March, the equestrian centre Reitzentrum Gstaad is due to change hands. Ernst Voegeli, who looked after the facilities for 17 years and completely rebuilt the establishment, will hand it over to the new tenants, Horst Becker and Melania Maria Mangia.

"When I first saw this outdated old place 17 years ago, I had to swallow hard," says Erica Voegeli with a grin. "Investing 50kg of paint, we simply refreshed everything and made it look a lot better," adds her husband Ernst Voegeli. The arena was built in 1961 and the idea of rebuilding and reorganising everything had been going round in Ernst's mind.

When Lara Livanos wanted to fulfil her dream of having her own stables, the idea moved on to the next stage. With financial support from the Livanos family and Marcel Bach, a local real estate entrepreneur, as well as other support, the centre was temporarily closed down in 2009 for refurbishment. The horses were quartered in tents to the right of the Saane and the facility was completely rebuilt. Now, nine years later, Ernst Voegeli (73) is handing over this flourishing riding centre to new managers: from 1 April 2019, Horst Becker (51) and his partner Melania Mangia will take over the centre.

Claudia Hauswirth from the Reit- und Fahrverein Gstaad-Saanenland organised a heartfelt and emotional thank you event in the riding hall for Voegeli, with various demonstrations, including a 10 dressage quadrille and performances by riding club members, pensioners and riding centre employees. A jumping quadrille and a pas-de-deux were also part of the entertainment, along with other spectacles. Theodora Livanos and her grey stallion gave an impressive freestyle display to the music It's Time to Say Goodbye. At the end, a two-horse field kitchen came clattering in and served a fine goulash soup. Voegeli's long-serving and loyal colleague, Natalia Akus, who has worked with him for 10 years, gave a tearful yet touching thank-you speech for all the wonderful years. Also, Marcel Bach didn't miss the chance to say a few words. As a souvenir, the club presented Ernst with a painting by the artist F. Moser. With cakes and mulled wine served, the evening ended by the fireplace of the adjacent Reiterstübli. 

New workshops

In addition to the normal riding facilities and activities, the Reitzentrum Gstaad is offering a variety of demonstrations and workshops devised and lead by Horst Becker. The first public event will take place on the morning of 31 March 2019 from 11am to 3pm. Spectators will gain an insight into his work with the horses, starting with liberty dressage performed by his stallion Armani, ground work, double lunge. There will also be displays by different western and dressage horses from younger animals right through to the more advanced, with lessons like Piaffe.

Based on AVS / Evelyne Gfeller
Translated by Justine Hewson

All information about the events can be found at:

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