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Bertalan de Némethy

Bertalan de Némethy (b. Feb. 24, 1911, d. Jan. 16, 2002)[1] was a cavalry officer in Hungary and later show jumping coach for the United States Equestrian Team. Additionally, he was extremely influential in developing many of the riding and training methods used by show jumpers today.[2][1]



Years in Europe

De Némethy began riding as a child in Gyor, Hungary[1][3], the son of a governor who controlled 3 of the 19 states[3]. He began competing in show jumpimg in his teens[3]. Due to his uncle's employment as a cavalry officer, de Némethy went to the Military Academy of Ludovica, in Budapest, where he graduated in 1932 with the rank of lieutenant[2][3]. He then entered the cavalry, riding 6 horses each day at the school, beginning with dressage horses, before having a lesson on the longe without sitrrups, and then riding the young horses cross-country[3]. He later became an instructor at the school after graduating in 1937.

De Némethy's skill as a rider was exceptional, but he lost his shot at the Olympics due to the cancellation of the 1940 Games[3]. Instead, de Némethy was sent to train at the German cavalry school in Hanover, the first Hungarian officer to do so[3], where he was taught by the likes of Otto Lörke, Fritz Stecken, and Bubi Günther[2]. There he learned the German system of training.

However, World War II forced de Némethy to return to Hungary. But as the Russian Army approached Budapest, he and his fellow cadets decided to flee yet again, this time to Denmark[2]. De Némethy remained in Copenhagen for 6 years, employed as a riding teacher[2].

Moving to the United States

In 1952, de Némethy was permitted by the US Embassy to emigrate, and he became a citizen in 1958. He moved to Far Hills, New Jersey[1], and began teaching at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Tarrytown, New York[3]. He later designed jumping courses for various shows in the area.

Coaching the US Show Jumping Team

In 1955, on the advice of William Steinkraus and Arthur McCashin, de Némethy was asked by the United States Equestrian Team to become the coach for the jumping team[2]. De Némethy accepted the position, holding it until 1980. During this time he trained some of the biggest names in the sport, including George H. Morris, Joe Fargis, Frank Chapot, Kathy Kusner, Leslie Burr, Conrad Homfeld, Michael Matz, Melanie Smith, Neal Shapiro, and William Steinkraus. He based his training on dressage work, jumping grids, and longeing, all of which was published in his classic book The de Némethy Method. While coach, the US Show Jumping Team won the team silver at the 1960 and 1972 Olympics, 1968 individual gold, and 1972 individual bronze. Additionally, all four riders on the 1984 gold medal-winning team were trained by de Némethy[2].

Additionally, his teams won the team gold medal at the Pan American Games in 1959, 1963, 1975 and 1979. His teams won 71 out of the 144 Nations Cups in which they competed, the FEI President's Trophy in 1966 and 1968, and his riders individually won 72 International Grand Prixs and more than 400 international classes [4]

After coaching the US Team, de Némethy was much sought-after as a course designer[3]. He was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1987[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Frank Litsky. "Bertalan de Nemethy, 90, Equestrian Coach." New York Times [New York] January 26, 2002.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Bryant, Jennifer O. Olympic Equestrian, A Century of International Horse Sport. Lexington, KY: Blood-Horse Publications, 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Horsemagazine.com. "Four Showjumping Masters." Accessed June 28, 2008. >
  4. 4.0 4.1 <uset mourns passing of bertalan de nemethy accessed june http:>. </uset>


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