A Homebred, A First 5*, and a Family Affair for Arne Bergendahl at Luhmühlen

Arne Bergendahl and Luthien 3. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

For much of German rider Arne Bergendahl’s career, making it to the pinnacle level — CCI5* — wasn’t really a part of the plan. Sure, he enjoyed riding and grew up in a family that lived and breathed horses — his family is well-respected for producing top quality show jumpers and eventers — but he wouldn’t have categorized himself as a top-level, career rider. After all, he also works full-time in an office, which leaves less time for full-time horse production than some of his professional counterparts.

But Arne made good on this goal he wasn’t sure would factor into his CV on Saturday at the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials, where he stamped one of the rides of the day in the CCI5* division aboard the homebred 11-year-old Westphalian mare, Luthien 3 (La Calido – Taramanga, by Templer xx).

“She’s a little bit of a crazy mare in this family!” Arne described. Earlier in the day, all you could see on Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross country was a streak of white as the mare gleefully leapt from question to question (sometimes leaving a stride out in her wake!). Her efforts were rewarded with a move from 36th after dressage (“The dressage is always complicated,” Arne admits) into the top 20 following cross country. The pair picked up just two seconds of time over the optimum time of 11 minutes.

Many eventing fans would know this equine family quite well, in fact. The family Bergendahl is represented this weekend not only by Luthien 3, but also by Arne’s 4*-S ride, Checkovich, as well as Antonia Baumgart’s Lamango and the USA’s own Dan Kreitl’s partner in the 4*, Carmango (who shares the same dam – Taramanga – as Luthien 3 and Lamango). One more fun fact about this particular mare line: the fourth foal from Taramanga is Cascamara, who currently competes at the 3* level with one Ingrid Klimke.

Arne Bergendahl and Luthien 3. Photo by Alex Jeffery.

Arne works full-time for the city council of Wesel, having earned both his Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree from the University of Münster. This busy schedule means he must balance the riding on the odd hours, before and after work. Because of this demanding schedule, and the fact that he rides many of his family’s young horses to help bring them up, the prospect of a 5* seemed like a very uphill climb.

“I have a normal job in office,” Arne explained. “And my father is breeding. I’m riding a lot, of course, but a lot of young horses. But that’s why five-star wasn’t really all the time my aim to go there. I was several years on two- and three-star level and a three-star was almost a highlight of the year. But the last two, three years it became really good.”

Since the mare’s early eventing days, Arne has been able to cultivate a partnership with Luthien 3. The pair did move up to the 4* level in 2020 but were eliminated in their first attempt, so they opted to go back to the drawing board and gain some more experience during and beyond the pandemic. That extra time has paid off, as they’ve finished closer and closer to the top placings as they go. As with many elite horses, patience and understanding is key. “In the beginning the cross country was even a little bit complicated with her, because she has her own mind and always keeping her on line is not that easy,” Arne reflected, noting the improvements the mare has made just since 2021 to bring him now to this achievement.

A solid performance in Sunday’s show jumping for Arne and Luthien 3 will solifidy a goal that’s already been mostly accomplished: bring a homebred, self-produced horse all the way to her first (and your own!) first CCI5* event — on home soil, to boot. Add in a rare clear round inside the time on your second ride in the 4*-S, and we’ll call this a weekend to remember, no matter what.

Longines Luhmühlen: [Website] [Entries] [Timing & Scoring] [How to Watch] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Form Guide]

EN’s coverage of Longines Luhmühlen is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products and Ocala Horse Properties.

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