By Judiciously fueling a middle-aged mare named Halla with sugar lumps, 28-year-old Hans Winkler of Frankfurt, Germany has traveled a long way. In the eight years since he set out, amid the cheerless wreckage of the Third Reich, to become a gentleman rider, Winkler has seen and conquered Madrid, Paris and Rome; last week, having crossed the Atlantic in style, he emerged as the bright particular star of the international jumping events in New York's glittering National Horse Show.
Riding Halla and a second horse named Alpenjager, Winkler won four of the first individual international jumping events for the West German team, thus dramatizing a surprising renascence of German horses (the Spanish team brought 5 German horses to New York, too; the Mexicans 2) and German horsemanship.
Winkler, a short, dark-haired, thick-wristed fellow, wears horn-rimmed spectacles that give him?in conjunction with his pink coat and velvet huntsman's cap?an air of jaunty intentness as he takes his straining chargers over the jumps. But when he dismounts, pulls his glasses off his nose and slips them into a pocket, he suddenly looks and sounds like a college boy on an unexpected vacation?one which in his case has brought him applause and admiration everywhere he has gone. They were the last things he expected when he was mustered out of the Wehrmacht, at 20, after V-E Day.
Winkler's father, a career officer in the Germany Army, was killed during the war, and the son was set adrift in a world of grimy ruins. He was rescued almost immediately, however, by an old family friend, the stablemaster at Castle Friedrichshof, which became for a while a U.S. Army country club. With his horses providentially guarded and fed, the stablemaster was able to go on training them, and with them young Winkler, in the arts of dressage, the difficult and subtle exercises by which mounts are conditioned and taught perfect communion with a rider.
Winkler discovered a talent for horses almost immediately and became a dressage rider par excellence. He began jumping, was discovered by Dr. Gustav Rau, paramount chieftain of German equestrianism, and, almost before he knew it, found himself becoming a figure of some eminence.
"For two and a half years," said Winkler happily last week, "I have had a job with the Bayer Aspirin Company. It is not a job where I have an office. I meet people?I meet the mayor, the big shots wherever I go?so it is good for the business. For jumping I do not get paid, of course?I am an amateur?but I am not married and I can afford it now."
In talking about jumping, Winkler immediately makes the point that it is the horse, and not he, that jumps, and speaks of himself only as a sort of disembodied influence. "My horse is a good horse," he says, "because she wants to jump. She enjoys it. To make her want to jump you must be like the man who trains your American sprinters. When Zatopek comes out to run he frowns, he keeps his jaws together. But when your Jesse Owens comes out to run he smiles. That is the way the horse must feel. You must know when the horse has worked enough and never work her one minute more. You must control her, but you must not fight with her. Of course, I must fight with her once in a while. When I do, I stay away from her for two or three days until she is not angry any more. I feed her sugar when she is good. I let her know I think she has done well. With the horse it is best to put this"?and here Winkler made a fist and held it before him?"in your pocket."
Dr. Rau, who is in New York as a nonriding captain of the German team, spoke more pointedly when asked what, in his opinion, was responsible for Winkler's success as a jumper. He thumped his forehead with his knuckles and said, "He has a good head. Germans have the best heads." And, after a pause: "So do German horses."
Mud, worms, birds, fog
As they looked back on their first season last week, the new-born Vancouver ( B.C.) Lions of Canada's professional Western Interprovincial Football League could look back (and not without a certain dogged pride) on one of the most stirringly disastrous campaigns in sports history. The Lions won but one out of 16 games, had to keep their expensive star, ex-N.Y. Giant Arnie Weinmeister, benched with injuries most of the year, and ended up hopelessly out of the Grey Cup Playoffs. But this was as nothing to their defeats at the hands of malevolent nature. Rains and improper drainage facilities turned the field in Vancouver's brand-new 25,500-seat Empire Stadium (built for last summer's British Empire Games) into a quagmire by midseason.