It’s World Cup Finals Week! We’re thrilled to be profiling the new faces heading to Omaha this year, and we couldn’t be more excited for these riders taking their first crack at glory. We’ll be bringing you exclusive profiles on each rookie pair, so keep checking back to learn more about the competitors you’ll see making their World Cup Jumping Finals Debut.
Name: Christian Heineking
Horse: NKH Calango (13 yo Oldenburg gelding)
World Cup Qualifying Division: (NAESL)
Christian Heineking’s route to the World Cup Final might be the strangest, sweetest, and most American path you could imagine. The 37-year-old went from a childhood behind the East German wall to being the “hometown favorite” in Omaha as a foreign national living in Texas with family of his own. It is a perfect, crazy American immigrant story.
As a child, Christian first became acquainted with horses riding with his grandfather. As a teenager, he joined the Redefin Federal Stud of Mecklenburg as a riding school student, and gained an invaluable education not only in equitation but in breeding, young horses, and operations. It was here he committed to a life in the equestrian business – He received his German master license in riding, and immediately went pro.
In 2008 he made the radical decision to head to the United States on a two year visa and experience American show jumping. Near the end of his stay he made a life-altering connection in Erin Davis – an accomplished show jumper in her own right – who would prove to be his best ally in the ring and out of it.
Christian and Erin were married in 2013, and they decided to make their permanent home in Texas. They now have a young daughter, Ella, who is a true lead-line queen and top notch horse show road-tripper.
The Heinekings have planted their flag at October Hill Farm as an integral part of the teaching, breeding, training and sale program there, and also maintain a property in Christian’s homeland of Germany.
Erin and Ella share a special moment after mom’s class:
Christian will be competing on NKH Caruso, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding who Christian has been patiently bringing up the levels. They made their FEI debut in 2014 and have been catapulting upward ever since.
Christian and Caruso stamped their proverbial ticket to Omaha when they won the CSI 4* World Cup Qualifier at the Las Vegas National in November. They added to their points with a top ten finish at the Live Oak International in Ocala in March to ensure their spot in the lineup.
They’re well poised for success this weekend – despite the fact that Christian says he’s spent very little time on the indoor circuit this winter – his horses have spent a lot of time at the Omaha venue for rated shows there. In fact, Christian has won the Omaha Grand Prix four of the last five years. With that success rate, it would be foolish to rule out the experience and edge of a home-field advantage.
Like every other facet of their life, Omaha will be a family affair for the Heinekings as Erin will be competing in the Omaha Grand Prix Saturday night. We suspect baby Ella will be in tow, as well! (Million Dollar Idea: Celebrity Offspring Leadline Class. You’re welcome, FEI.)