CHIO Aachen: The Mecca of Positive Change
“If we all do a little bit it makes a big difference in the end,” said Canadian dressage Olympian Chris von Martels whilst walking the grounds of CHIO Aachen.
The full gravity of his words can be felt with the rumbling stadium or bustling village, filled by an impassioned equestrian community of over 40,000 strong hailing from all nations and disciplines. For one magnificent week each year, Aachen becomes the global center of equestrian sport for the Weltfest des Pferdesports (World Equestrian Festival). For JustWorld International (JWI) it is a world of opportunity.
“Aachen is very special. It’s a great event for bringing everyone together,” said Olympic Equestrian Commentator and Presenter Steven Wilde.
As a JustWorld Ambassador (JWI) for more than 10 years, Wilde notes there is a certain “je ne sais quoi” at Aachen. The fervent energy is tangible from morning feed until long after the last class, because the progress made at Aachen will set the tone for the entire year.
“In terms of what JustWorld does, it is bringing people from all over the world to one place to build ideas, build discussions and create development. This is a wonderful place to bring it all into one melting pot. I always feel you walk away from Aachen having had discussions that will develop positive things for the rest of the year,” said Wilde.
One positive ripple effect emerged from the vendor village with a burst of color. Anna Klose Hamburg is a German equestrian, luxury and lifestyle brand, yet they are even more than meets the eye. Managing Director Sandra Kristoffersen is also a driven JWI Ambassador designing a plan to share the power of the industry with children in Cambodia, Guatemala, Honduras and the United States supported by JWI through comprehensive education, healthcare and nutrition programs.
“I feel very honored to represent this organization, which really has its roots in the equestrian industry. I just think it’s super interesting to see how this particular organization really developed from the equestrian community, because I think that it has so much power. There are so many people in this sport who have the means to support others,” said Kristoffersen.
The philanthropic brand is in the conceptual phase of an Anna Klose Hamburg | JWI design where they have pledged to donate a percentage of the proceeds to JWI programs. Offering JWI staff a digitized sneak peek, we can promise it will be a fashion forward way to share the mission and contribute with style.
“Aachen is really one of the events of the year. Everyone gathers here, so I think it’s really the perfect place to be of course for our brand but also for JustWorld…At the moment we are working on a small design collaboration and were working on a design piece that will hopefully be available for Christmas,” said Kristoffersen with a wide smile.
While support for JWI can be found in all facets of the expansive show grounds, it was the Ambassadors in the arena who brought JWI center stage. U.S. Olympic phenom Laura Kraut has been a JWI Ambassador since its inception, bringing home top honors on countless occasions. At Aachen, Kraut led the victory lap for the CSIO5* VBR 1.45m aboard Cherry Knoll farm’s Haley. She also finished in the respectable fourth position with Team USA during the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup with her 2020 Tokyo Olympics partner Baloutinue.
Kraut was one of many Ambassadors to podium at the World Equestrian Festival. Olympic Champion Kevin Staut (FRA) also jumped into the upper echelons of Aachen by placing third in the CSIO5* Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia. After the awards celebrations, Staut took a moment to reflect on his first hand experience with JWI.
“I went once to Cambodia and twice to Guatemala, and honestly it was three amazing trips. You have to go there to feel the reality of it. Not just on paper or on video. It was really healthy for me to open my eyes and also see what JustWorld is doing…which is producing quality help for the children and essential support,” Staut explained.
While he talks of the desire to return to Guatemala to take in the progress of JWI’s partner project El Patojismo, over in the dressage arena are some talented youth with aspirations of a first time visit. Erin Nichols (USA) was inspired to become a JWI Ambassador after the Adopt A Project initiative at the 2022 North American Youth Championships, where she secured gold in her division. Setting the bar high, her Ambassadorship and her involvement has only grown stronger, and during her Aachen debut she stood third on the podium in the CDIY Individual Competition with Elian Royale.
Taking the U.S. flag into the CDIO5* Nations Cup was Ana Buffini and Davinia La Douce. As a JWI Ambassador the weighted responsibility is twofold for Buffini. Yet she carried it with the poise and perfect posture of a world class dressage rider.
“Riding at the highest levels of the sport is really such an honor and to be able to represent the United States on this kind of stage is something I’ve worked for my entire career as an athlete and a competitor. With that being said, I’m also very fortunate to be in this position, and it serves as a reminder to the importance of the JustWorld International work and why I love being a part of something where I’m able to give back to those in need around the world.”
In the saddle each Ambassador has independent goals, but they all share the same dreams for the future JWI. To grow the organization, develop the community, and in turn create a better world.
“For me it’s amazing to see our equestrian community come together. It’s wonderful for us that JustWorld is so strongly affiliated with the FEI, and while it’s been around for a long time there is still so much potential to grow it with such distinguished partners and events…I know the dressage community will continue to embrace it, with endless potential in every community, and I hope to help grow it,” said von Martels.
# # #
Established in 2003, JustWorld was founded to provide equestrians with a way to support carefully vetted education programs for impoverished children around the world. Thousands of JustWorld Ambassadors from more than 40 countries have since committed to “ride for the cause” and assist JustWorld in accomplishing its mission to help build brighter futures for these children and their communities. Equestrian-based companies and events worldwide support JustWorld’s efforts, and the governing body of the global equestrian sport, the FEI, has endorsed JustWorld as its official charity partner. In 2022, JustWorld is helping improve the lives of nearly 10,000 impoverished children around the globe daily.
JustWorld International is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in the United States and tax-deductible donations are accepted in the United States. JustWorld International has no political or religious affiliation.