German Riding Badge: Das Reiterabzeichen



In 1930 the German Warmblood Association created a bronze, silver, and gold rider’s badge, Das Reiterabzeichen,  to encourage increased equestrian knowledge and horsemanship.  The bronze and sliver levels were awarded after demonstrated horsemanship and knowledge of riding theory, anatomy, and horsemastership.  Since the Army was the largest equestrian organization in the country, Rittmeisters (cavalry captains) and artillery captains who were squadron or battery commanders were authorized to administer the tests and award the badges to civilians and to soldiers.

According to German cavalry historian Klaus Richter, the army made little use of the badges.  This may have been because during the same period the army was in the midst of a dramatic increase in size and modernization program encouraged by the Nazis.  It also may have been because military riders, as professionals, did not see a need for a badge to represent what was already represented by their rank and branch of service.  It may have been that the testing for and wearing the badges was beneath the dignity of cavalrymen and horse artillerymen.

Since it was originally conceived as a civilian sports award before the Nazis came to power, it was one of the few German military qualification badges of the Nazi era that did not have a military design or include the swastika insignia.

Riding Badge Certificate

Riding Badge Certificate

The modern Riding Badge is still issued by the German Equestrian Association (Deutsche Reiterliche Vereinigung) and still must be earned by meeting strict criteria judged by a certified official.  It looks exactly the same as the World War II and earlier version.  At the copper level, level IV, the modern badge is awarded to beginner riders and is used primarily as a motivational tool to encourage a continued interest in horses.  The bronze and higher requirements are more stringent.  For example, a bronze level award requires successfully completing the equivalent of a USDFlevel 2 dressage test and jump course with jumps and jump combinations ranging up to 4 feet in height.  There is also a written and oral test on horsemastership. 

The degree of control of all horse activity in Germany has no parallel in the United States.  Certainly much of that control, especially in the area of stock management and breeding, goes against the grain of American principles of free markets and individual choice.  However, the ability to establish national standards in horsemanship and horsemastership creates industry standards by which one can judge riding instructors, individual ability, and stable and training facilities.  It also provides a national standard against which amateur horseman can measure themselves and towards which they can work improve their horsemanship.  The U.S. Pony Club standards are probably the only U.S. measure which is similar.

German Luftwaffe Officer Wearing the Riding Badge
World War II Luftwaffe Officer Wearing the Riding Badge



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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for sharing

  2. Interesting stuff, although I guess it would fit with the whole (misguided of course) Aryan mastering of all beasts for the good of the nation.

  3. I have one of these but could never quite figure out what the exact history was. Thanks for the info!

  4. nice one

  5. Congratulations for your splendid information and blog. I own and old silver raider badge with its label pin, both in splendid conditions. I can send you their images scanned if you wish. I have another equestrian badge too, which I´d like to know about what it is. It´s a golden cross made by Steinhauer and Lueck, whose center has the same design of a reiterabzeichen bagde. I´d send an image too in order to be examined by you.
    Best wishes.

  6. I have a Horse Riders Badge that dosent have The “R” at bottom of wreath. I’ve heard it’s pre 1934 and that its Post 1957. Can anyone help?

  7. Nice page that you got here, Denmark has also a nice riding badge, you can se it on pictures from/with the danich ss officer Hauptsturmfuhrer Per Sørensen, he is wearing it on the german uniform. The badge is still the same today, and is allowed to wear on the danish dress uniform today, then the army also have a qualification badge named Patrulje rytter badge, first to wear on the right arme sleve, and now in an other form who is to wear on the cheast. If you want photos you can contact me.
    Former officer royal danish hussars.

    Your´s R. Lenskjold

  8. Hey there
    Greate site that you got there, if you are interested in some info about the Danish reiter badge, military and civilian, please let me know.

    1.LT René Lenskjold

  9. I have just bought a german riding badge in silver from poland and to me it seems a bit small – may be they are the size it is but is there any way i can make sure it is real and not a copy and can anybody tell me the size ?


  10. Good day,
    I have a rider badge with those markings in the back. Is this a 1930s or 1957 model?

    Steinhauer & Lück ,

    Ges.Gesch Zentralkom.F Leistungspr. W. U. Kaltbl-Pf


  11. I recently recieved a bronze medalion about 4″ in diameter with the wreath and R at the bottom similar to the badge illustrated but there are two horses on the front. on the back is the german saying: Richly bound for breeding and testing German Warmblood for outstanding services” and does have a swastika on the bottom with a sheave of wheat and a sword. Could you let me know the history of this artifact

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