The western riding scene has reacted with great sadness to the death of Horst Geier. The initiator and longtime manager of Americana passed away this week at the age of 79. Horst was one of the great visionaries of European western riding and western horse breeding, who, among other things, made Americana what it is today. "We were saddened to learn of the death of our longtime business partner and companion Horst Geier," said AFAG management. "Our thoughts are with his family and all his friends!"
The name Horst Geier is inextricably linked with the development of western riding and the American Quarter Horse in Europe. The entrepreneur imported his first American Quarter Horse mares as early as 1974 and immediately saw the enormous potential of the breed and of western riding in general. He was a co-founder of the Deutsche Quarter Horse Association, the National Reining Horse Association affiliate in Germany and the EWU, and he built up the Flachsberg Ranch in Schwanewede, one of the first ranches in Germany to breed, train and sell American Quarter Horses and Paint horses.
The flagship of the Flachsberg Ranch was the American Quarter Horse stallion Doc Chex by Doc Tom Tucker, imported from California as a 2-year-old. Kay Wienrich successfully trained the striking bay in reining, cutting and working cow horse and celebrated countless successes with him. The stallion ushered in a new era in Germany: that of the modern sport-horse type. During his show career, he won everything there was to win. For 10 years, he dominated the German reining and cow-horse scene, and only a few managed to beat Doc Chex during this time. In 1986, Horst also founded the Flachsberg Ranch Oklahoma in the United States, through which several thousand American Quarter Horses and Paint horses came to Europe over the years, including famous stallions such as The Hollywood Man, Doc Smoky Note, Dox Cashn Hand and Peppy San Can.
Horst made an impact not only in the breeding business, but also in the showing world. As early as 1976, he organized the first western horse show at his ranch. Many others followed, including a show that was to become a worldwide concept: Americana. Just as Horst had already seen the potential in European western riding, he also had the right eye for this top-class event. In 1986, the first Americana took place on the Olympic riding grounds in Munich-Riem, attracting 26,000 visitors. The mixture of top sport, fair and entertainment met the taste of the public and brought western riding in Europe an enormous step forward. It is no coincidence that all European horse associations reported a boom in membership from 1988 onward. Since 1990, Americana has been at home in Augsburg and is a permanent fixture for all western riding enthusiasts, regularly attracting more than 300 exhibitors and around 50,000 visitors.
Until 2015, Horst directed and managed Americana together with his wife, Anneliese, and a select show team. Horst also always had a special “nose” for people. Many well-known names owe their beginnings in the western riding scene to him, including the well-known show announcer Boris Kook, who is now active internationally. He also introduced his successor, today's "Mrs. Americana" Sandra Quade, and Joachim Bochmann to the scene. In 2017, Horst retired from the Americana team and handed over the management baton to Sandra. He remained very attached to the event until the end.
"Horst was a jack-of-all-trades for me, a one-of-a-kind who always remained very young in his mind," Sandra says. "No idea was too crazy for him. It takes other people three lifetimes for what he implemented. He introduced me to the professional western horse world and flew with me to the U.S. to introduce me to the appropriate horsemen/professional trainers and events. I sat next to him for two Americana preparations, watching and working with him. Then, since I took over his position completely, he was always there to help and advise me. I could always count on his loyalty as well as Anneliese's. His opinion was honest, and his advice often very wise. Joachim and I will miss him dearly."
Kay Wienrich puts it in a nutshell: "I met Horst Geier around 1976. As an innovative man, he always had a feel for trends and developments, especially for what western riding was to become. Thus, together with his friend at the time, he founded the second largest western store, True West, which at that time already offered the ambitious cowboy of central Europe everything he needed to indulge in this then-still-young hobby. At that time, western riding was considered to be a 'mental aberration of some people with an affinity for horses,' whose orientation in this form of riding was primarily derived from the Western series on Saturday afternoons. Horst Geier never let himself be swayed by this. So, in 1978 we founded the Flachsberg Ranch, the first training and instruction facility for western riding with its own indoor arena. The Flachsberg Ranch had a registered association with 120 members and was affiliated with the Landessportbund. Horst saw to it that the first imported American Quarter Horses were registered in a recognized breeding association (at that time the Rheinisches Pferdestammbuch) and received their duty-free status. He was a founding and board member of the DQHA, EWU and NRHA Germany and dedicated himself to these associations with great commitment. However, his greatest legacy has to be Americana, which has now become a staple of every western rider and dealer in the industry for decades. A show of superlatives held in Europe, which even attracted riders with horses from the USA to the old continent, into the halls of the Augsburg Fair.
"Horst Geier has dedicated a large part of his life to western horses and western riding. Today's generation of western riders is reaping the rewards of people like him. I would like to express my sympathy to his wife, Anneliese, and his son, Axel, and his family."