makes the difference.
"Our experience makes the difference, because equestrian sport is our passion."
Interview with Architect and und Racehorse-Trainer Ferdinand J. Leve:
"Happiness on earth is on the back of a horse". Can you relate to this statement?
Yes, indeed. Everyone should have the luck at a certain time of life to experience that special feeling of riding a horse and sensing this wonderful animal's power and grace. The bond, once formed with a horse will never let go and one is' hooked on horses for life!
When did you have your first exposure to horses?
WI was first exposed to ponies at a young age. I rode ponies and soon became a member of the local riding club. I have may fond memories of my youth taking part in all kinds or riding events organised through the local club. Developing into a competitive passion, I was soon taking part in local eventing competitions in the region. Over the years, I became more involved in the Thoroughbred world and I became a horse racing enthusiast.
Living with Horses – became a series of projects you designed. What prompted you to come up with this concept?
On completing my studies in 1982, I spent some considerable time in the United States, with the aim of studying the timber frame building designs and concept for housing. I was able to visit some of the major stud farms and I also stumbled across a concept that the aviators of that time commonly enjoyed. They all had their houses adjacent to the airfield so that their own light aircraft was virtually parked in the garden. It seemed to me they had established their perfect world.
Some years later in Warendorf, there was a block of land available very close the DOKR (German Olympic committee 'training centre. The idea came to me to recreate the concept the pilots had in the US and adapt it for the horse owner. Having a large facility on your doorstep and horse in the front yard next to your home. The site lent itself to this development perfectly.
The perfect Stable complex; what is your definition of this?
Currently we have to really address the conditions in which we keep our horses. There are many activist today who spend a great deal of energy and time examining the husbandry conditions of all animals not excepting equines. In owning a horse one is morally responsible for its welfare and to see that it is kept in the best environment possible: Light, good air circulation and adequate room for excersise are of paramount importance.
Adequate areas the daily exercise of your horse when ridden is just as important as paddock area where the horse can exercise freely in the fresh air. In addition, the stabling should be designed to allow as much light and circulating air into the construction as possible.
Equestrian Architecture is indeed a very specialist and niche market, what made you decide to work in that field?
I love horses and all things connected with horses are my passion. Being an Architect it seemed a natural development to hone my skills to design attractive and perfect environment as dwelling places for these wonderful creatures.
You have become a racehorse trainer. In which way does this influence your design today?
I have been fortunate to experience and be personally involved in many aspects of horse related sports. Weather it is as a horse breeder, a member of a local equestrian centre and riding club, and competitive rider, a racehorse trainer. My designs incorporate all these experiences. When you have been actively involved and ‚hands-on 'with your horses you know all the requirements and details that make a difference whether you are running a breeding barn, a training centre or an Olympic centre. Our practical attention to details are a feature of our design concepts.
How would you define your design concept?
Co-ordination of practical functionality and design. To perfect the details that make a unique design concept into a practical, and aesthetic work.
What element of the design process do rate of the highest importance?
Masterplanning: A project has no future without a masterplan with practical steps to outline the elements of the construction.
Have you a Project which most represents a concept you would like to achieve?
A Horse Park, the create a complete environment in which to present the passion and grace of the horse and all the elements of the disciplines it is able to accomplish. It could be a centre of fun, learning and give the general public a first opportunity to interact with equines and give them a taste of the excitement and thrill that we experience daily as horse lovers.
How are your designs influenced by the new environmental, requirements for horse husbandry, the modern materials and indeed technology available?
Breeding and rearing horses and equestrian sport has moved on and has higher demands to meet the commercial market and the higher standards of competition achieved today. We are aware of this and are constantly keeping ourselves informed of the latest requirements and the new innovations available for practical inclusion in our work.
What lessons have you learned about man and horse during the last 30 years as an Architect and trainer?
A horse has an amazing natural instinct that enables him to adapt and not forget. It has great stamina and is extremely durable, capable of great achievements when given a comfortable environment and sufficient nourishment. Through the demands of our lifestyles, we as humans have lost a great deal of our natural instinct and resilience. Through our bond with horses we are able to reconnect with our dormant instincts. Hence, we go back to our original quote – "happiness on earth is on the back of a horse".
What is your opinion towards Architects generally in the field of equestrian sport?
I know very few architects in this field; most understand the horse purely as an art form for which they must for many years strive to achieve a satisfactory, serviceable result.
What is your opinion of the equestrian sport in Germany, Europe and globaly?
The development and expansion of Equestrian sport globally is different stages, and offers various dimensions depending on the part of the globe in question. Here in Germany, equestrian sport has hit heights of excellence and the export trade for horses and knowledge is flourishing. Let us hope in this environment of competitive sport, commerce and demanding markets that the respect for the main player in the field, the majestic living creature which is the horse, does not fall short.