5 Things You
Need To Know
About Sönke

02 July 2018

Sönke Rothenberger is one of Dressage’s newest rising stars, having experienced nothing short of a meteoric rise to fame over the last few years.

In fact, if anyone seems poised to reach 'Equestrian legend' status, it would be Sönke. It seems that he received a completely unfair share of talent during the genetic lottery, but he’s just too nice and respectful for anyone to dislike.


We talked to Sönke ahead of WEG to find out more about him, his life and his goals…


1 He’s one to watch for the future

At the age of just 23, Sönke has already had a career that many twice his age can only dream of.


Currently world No.5, he’s competed at the Olympics and earned a team gold, taken individual second place last year in the European finals at Gothenburg, has just beaten reigning World champions Isabell Werth and Weihegold at the German Championships, and along with his stallion Cosmo is one of only five combinations to have scored above 90% at Grand Prix – when Cosmo was still relatively young at the age of 10.


With that level of success under his belt, we can only imagine what he’ll be doing 10 years from now!

Cosmo could have
been an amazing
Jumper... he’s just
a superstar

2 He has his sights set on WEG

Sönke thinks he has the horse to achieve big things in Tryon in September – should he make the German team!


“I think Cosmo has proven that he is one of the best horses in the world,” Sönke tell us.


“He just won the German championships and beat Isabell and Weihegold, who are the World Cup winners two years in a row. He did a lot of great tests last year and I think he’s really proved that he belongs in the top.



“I’m going to concentrate on Aachen and I really hope that they recognise what Cosmo can bring to the team. And yes of course I’m trying hard to be selected first, but if we do go – then I’m obviously aiming to bring home a medal."


3 He’s no one trick pony

Pun intended! You’d be forgiven for thinking Sönke had dedicated his whole life to Dressage, but you’d be wrong. In fact, he was a prolific Jumper who was competing at FEI Jumping events from as early as 2014 on his mares Angela Anaconda and Liza Minelli.


When asked why he swapped the Jumping ring for the white Dressage boards, his answer was simple.


“Cosmo is good at Dressage, even though he’s bred to Jump,” he says. “It’s not a decision for Dressage or against Jumping, I’ve just got a good Dressage horse. If I have a good Jumping horse in the future I’ll Jump instead!’



4 He rides in Jumping boots

He’s succumbed to the top hat and tails but that’s where the line is drawn. You’ll never see Sönke rocking a pair of tall Dressage boots, only field boots.


It might not be traditional but it certainly works for him.


“They’re too stiff and hard and you have no feeling of the horse, in my opinion” Sönke says. “I think Jumping boots are better.”


And let’s be honest…who are we to suggest otherwise?


5 He is 100%, completely in love with Cosmo

If ever you doubted top riders’ love and appreciation of their horses, Sönke would be the person to set you straight.


His complete adoration and respect for Cosmo shines through whenever he gets the chance to talk about the big bay gelding.


He credits his return to Dressage completely to Cosmo and says that he didn’t think you could get the same rush from Dressage as you get over a 1.60 oxer.


“Cosmo proved me wrong. You get goosebumps just when he trots. I knew from the first day I sat on him that he could do anything,” Sönke says.


In fact, Sönke absolutely gushes about every trait Cosmo possesses.


“He’s got so much character, such a personality. He loves to work. He makes everything very easy for me,” he says.


‘He would only drink bottled water at Rio, and people were calling him gourmet Cosmo – but it’s the Olympics, he deserves the best.


"He could have been an amazing Jumper, or even an Eventer. He’s just a superstar."


Follow all the build-up to the World Equestrian Games (WEG) on FEI TV and YouTube...


Text by Sophie Baker

Images by Richard Juilliart / Liz Gregg


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