The spoga horse country check (5): The horse industry in Denmark
spoga horse is the world's leading B2B trade fair for the horse industry. An important plus point for visitors and exhibitors: Its internationality. Exhibitors from 33 countries and visitors from 72 countries took part in spoga horse Autumn 2019. The networking of business partners across national borders is an important mission of spoga horse. That's why in the new series "spoga horse Country Check" we take a close look at the most important sales markets for spoga horse.
Please note: These are partially abridged versions of the articles originally published in the trade magazine "ReitsportBRANCHE" by Sebastian Reichert. If you are interested in the complete publications, you can order the complete Ländlercheck series at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Picture: Mikkel Nielsen
Denmark is a breeding country, and especially Jutland, which borders on Germany and has a rural character, is horse country," says Achaz von Buchwaldt. The riding master knows his way around the small kingdom. He trained the Danish show jumpers for six years, from 2005 to 2011. "Historically, horses have had a great influence on Danish society - on the military, industry and agriculture," explains Rikke Hoejgaard from Dansk Ride Forbund (DRF), the Danish FEI National Federation. And Dennis Thrysøe from the manufacturer Karlslund Riding Equipment adds: "Horses are an extremely important part of our culture and business life - both are still very much alive.
Political and economic facts
Denmark consists of about 500 islands in addition to the mainland (Jutland). The capital Copenhagen is also located in an area enclosed by the Baltic Sea: Zealand. The capital area is home to 1.4 million of Denmark's 5.8 million inhabitants. 40 percent live on Zealand, 86 percent in cities. Denmark is highly urbanised. There are relatively few protected areas. Because of its many islands and rugged bays, the country has a relatively long coastline of 7314 kilometres. The land border - there is only one in the south with Germany - is relatively short at 67 kilometres. The largest elevation, Møllehøj hill near Aarhus, is just 170 metres high. After the capital, the largest cities are Aarhus (228,000 inhabitants), Odense (158,000) and Aalborg (122,000). Denmark is divided into five regions: Nordjylland (Northern Jutland), Midtjylland (Central Jutland), Syddanmark (Southern Denmark), Hovedstaden (Capital Region) and Sjælland (Zealand). In addition to the mainland, the Kingdom includes Greenland (56 000 inhabitants) and the Faroe Islands (50 000 inhabitants).
Denmark has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 1973, but has never adopted the euro as its currency, keeping the Danish krone (1 krone = 100 öre). One euro is currently equivalent to about 7.5 kroner. Germany is the twelfth largest EU economy's most important trading partner in terms of both exports and imports. In 2017, the small kingdom exported goods to the value of 90.8 billion euros and imported goods to the value of 82.4 billion euros. 0.9 percent of the gross domestic product of 288.4 billion euros in 2017 was generated by agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Picture: Willfried Wende
Another interesting side note on agriculture: Denmark has more than twice as many pigs as people. The animals are either exported or end up in the Danish hot dog or as a national dish on the plate: pork belly with rind. Apart from agriculture and forestry, which for example also supply a large part of the Christmas trees for the German market, tourism is also an important source of income, in addition to the high-tech industries. According to the German Travel Association, around one million Germans (12 million overnight stays) travel to Denmark every year.
Horse riding and association structure in denmark
The umbrella organisation of all riders, drivers, vaulters and co. is the Dansk Ride Forbund (DRF), founded in 1917. It is one of the eight national federations that founded the world federation FEI in Paris in 1921. With almost 69,000 members (and 542 clubs) the DRF is the seventh largest sports federation in Denmark. "Denmark has a strong club culture, accompanied by a strong volunteer mentality. This, combined with the economic means and nature, makes equestrian sport strong in the country," says DRF spokeswoman Rikke Hoejgaard. "There is a riding club in almost every major town in Denmark," adds Uwe Schrader, sales representative of HKM Sports Equipment in Denmark. Compared to 2014, the equestrian association grew by 0.45 percent. From 1958 (3,559 members, 48 clubs), the DRF recorded an enormous growth within 50 years up to its maximum in 2008 (78,699 members, 541 clubs).
Picture: Simon Steinberger
Among women, the Ride Forbund is the fourth largest association: almost as many Danish women ride horses (61,954) as play football (63,294). Among 13-18 year-old girls, riding (15,335) is the second most popular sport in terms of membership - after football (19,559). The largest age group in the riding association is that of girls up to twelve years old. In percentage terms in relation to the population, the most riders are to be found in the municipality of Brønderslev in the North Jutland region, where 4.1 percent of the residents are DRF members (1479 members in total) - followed by Gentofte (4.0 percent, 3018 members) and Gribskov (3.9 percent, 1620 members) in the very north of Zealand.
The danish breed
Picture: Rebecca Schönbrodt-Rühl
Meanwhile, organised horse breeding can be traced back to the 14th century. The close connection between the nobility, horses and equestrian sport is evident and still exists today. As early as 1562, King Frederik II founded the Royal Court Stud Frederiksborg with Spanish-Andalusian breeding material on the grounds of the former Esrom Monastery in the city of Copenhagen. For more than 200 years it was to be one of the leading stud farms in Europe. Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen still houses riding arenas and stables today. "It is nice that the Royal Family is actively involved in equestrian sports," says Susan Gylling from Mink Horse, a Danish clothing and equipment brand for horse and rider.
The royal families are also the origin of the world's oldest registered breed of baroque horses. The Frederiksborg family is considered Denmark's genetic heritage. With the decreasing demand for working horses, however, a sport horse breed has spread throughout the country in recent decades. The Danish warmblood, a crossbreed of different species, has been bred since the middle of the last century - and is very successful in sport. According to the ranking of the Dutch equestrian journalist Jac Remijnse, the Danish warmblood has the highest percentage of foals that actually make it to the international top in dressage sport. Today, the Danish Warmblood makes up the bulk of Danish breeding, although with the spread of recreational riding, Knabstrupper (mostly tiger pinto - i.e. grey with black and/or brown spots) and Frederiksborger are enjoying a renaissance thanks to their intelligence and good nature. "In the last 15 years the breeding focus has clearly shifted towards dressage. A lot of money has been invested there," explains Achaz von Buchwaldt, the former Danish national trainer of show jumpers, who also observes an intensive exchange with the horse-rich Schleswig-Holstein (until 1866 a province of Denmark).
Today, Danish breeding, especially of dressage horses, influences all of Europe. The Blue Hors stud farm, behind which Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen stands, is one of the leading stud farms. He is the grandson of the founder of Lego (= leg godt - spiel gut) and the main shareholder of the world's largest toy manufacturer. He is considered the richest man in the country. The influence that top companies and the nobility together with German experts have on Danish equestrian sport can be illustrated by the example of the dressage riders Anna Kasprzak and Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. Both have German fathers and live(ed) in Germany. Anna Kasprzak celebrated her first major successes at the "Blue Horse" Future Cup, which she also owes to the sponsorship of her mother. Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak owns the billion-dollar shoe brand Ecco from Bredebro in Denmark not far from the German border. The mother of Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg is Princess Benedikte, the younger sister of Queen Margrethe II and herself a passionate rider and breeder.
The equestrian trade in denmark
There are about 250 retail outlets for equestrian sports enthusiasts in Denmark. Horze" is one of two major retail chains for equestrian equipment. The beginnings of the company ("Finn-Tack") date back to 1982 with three horseshoe manufacturers from Lahti, Finland. In addition to eight shops in its home country and nine shops in Norway (as well as three shops in Germany), the company also has eight shops in Denmark. Almost three times as many shops, 21, belong to the cooperative Danish Agro. These shops also sell equestrian sports equipment. "20 percent of equestrian shops in Denmark are large, well-stocked shops", explains Susan Gylling. Her company Mink Horse supplies more than 120 shops in the country. "The rest are small one-man businesses where the husband, wife or daughter or son may help out. Many of these also exist in conjunction with the numerous equestrian clubs."
There are also fewer equestrian sports shops on the generally less populated side of the North Sea. Nevertheless, it is striking that although Denmark is geographically a small country (and therefore the equestrian market is not very large), there are a lot of well-known manufacturers. Why is this so? "Denmark has always been a very innovative trading country," says Dennis Thrysøe from Karlslund Riding Equipment, a manufacturer specialising in Icelandic horses. "Even the Danes themselves attach more importance to brands from well-known manufacturers when shopping than the Germans, for example," explains HKM sales representative Uwe Schrader. And last but not least, Denmark is not only known in the world for Lego, hot dogs, liquorice and its royal family. Susan Gylling from Mink Horse explains what also applies to manufacturers of equestrian clothing and accessories: "Danish design has a very good reputation abroad.”
Picture: Kevin Schmid