Originally from Wexford, Ireland, Bertram has been riding since childhood. He was born into an equestrian family of seven siblings – six of whom ride. Bertram’s family owns a stable yard close to their home where they keep all their horses and ponies. The ponies have been passed down from sibling to sibling over the years.
When Bertram was 16 years old, he decided to get far more serious about his competitive showjumping career. He travelled to Germany with the plan to train with world-renowned coaches for a couple of months. That plan turned more permanent once Bertram had settled in Germany. Bertram’s parents have always been extremely supportive of his ambitions, which ultimately motivated their decision to buy Jessica Kuerten’s yard. Bertram then found himself having to run and manage a yard on his own, as well as ride, at the tender age of 16. His parents now divide their time between Ireland and Germany.
Bertram would truck his horses for lessons with his new trainer, Marcus Ehning, whom he still trains with today.
Rise to the top
While always admired by top equestrians, Bertram drew a lot of attention to himself in 2013 when he made his international debut on the Irish Nations Cup team. Prior to this, he won several gold and silver medals at competitions such as the European Pony Championships (2010) and European Junior Championships (2012 and 2013). In 2014 he finished individual seventh at the World Championships. Bertram was a gold medallist at the Longines Global Champions Tour in 2015 on his ride Romanov, and a silver medallist at the same event this year on his ride Hector van D’Abdijhoeve.
While Bertram continues to thrive at the top of the showjumping circuit today, an unfortunate incident at the London International Horse Show causing him to be disqualified put him directly into the spotlight.
Bertram jumped a clean and quick jump-off in the Olympia Grand Prix class on his ride, Quiet Easy 4, putting him into first place. The glorious win was short-lived when blood was found by the inspecting FEI steward on his horse’s flank, raising a welfare issue and resulting in the immediate disqualification of Bertram and Quiet Easy 4. According to international rules, a rider is automatically disqualified when blood is evident. Officials decided that the small wound was inflicted by Bertram’s spur. Bertram was utterly shocked by the jury’s decision, and told Horse and Hound, “I have a fantastic relationship with all of my horses, and their welfare is paramount. My foot must have slipped against Quiet Easy’s side as I was rising against the clock. He’s a sensitive horse and it was just a tiny nick.”
The winning title and £18,300 prize money was given to Michael Whitaker, who was originally lying in second place.
Luckily, Bertram’s reputation among equestrians did not allow for much speculation after the incident. Bertram is notorious for his dedication to the welfare and wellbeing of all his horses. The other riders sympathised with his disqualification, with Michael actually handing Bertram the winning rosette, and they turned out in numbers to support him.
Beyond the competition arena
While Bertram dedicates a lot of his time to the competition circuit, the rest of his time is spent managing his yard and producing young horses. While certainly not a typical task for any person in their twenties, Bertram runs his yard with precision and professionalism. He spends a lot of time producing young horses. Bertram buys young talent with the aim of bringing them up to higher sporting levels. The results speak for themselves with several of Bertram’s horses now competing successfully under new riders.
All the horses boarding at Bertram’s yard are well looked after and turned out on a daily basis – a luxury that many European horses are not afforded. Bertram has a simple training approach and explains that the best thing is to keep them physically and mentally fit. Bertram likes to take them cantering through fields or in the woods, and he often varies their exercise so that they don’t become arena sour.
The full article appears in the August issue (113) of HQ. On sale at www.coolmags.co.za
Photography: Noelle Floyd, FEI kit