Born in Denmark, Gunnar Østergaard had a love for horses and dressage at an early age. By 17 he realized that that his passion would become his profession. He applied for and was accepted into the apprentice program at the stable of Karl Diel in North Germany. Interestingly, he and Herbert Rehbein, many time German champion, were in the program together. Gunnar did his finishing exam after three years and subsequently became a trainer at the same stable. Three years later he moved to Southern Germany where he was a private trainer at another dressage stable.
1969 found Gunnar back home in Denmark where he spent time as the head trainer at a riding school north of Copenhagen. Although he trained both dressage and jumping horses, dressage continued to be his first love.
At this point in Gunnar's life, the legendary trainer, Gunnar Andersen took a personal interest in him, providing Gunnar the opportunity to train at his barn, riding the most talented horses and learning the finer skills of high level dressage.
The rigorous training paid off as Gunnar won many dressage competitions and was National Danish Professional Champion in 1975.
Thanks to the support of Ellen Shepherd, Liz and John Conroy, and John's sister Peggy, Gunnar was able to immigrate to the US settling in Plattsburg, NY in 1976.
In a very short time he saw both his reputation and clientele increase nationwide. In 1977 he was renting a 30 stall barn facility in NJ and did clinics all over the US. Besides training dressage riders and horses he also helped some top Olympic jumping riders with their dressage work as well as working with the US three day team in dressage.
Later in 1977 Gunnar was contacted by Mr. F. Eugene Dixon and was asked to train his daughter Ellin. Gunnar accepted and in 1978 Gunnar and Birgit moved to the magnificent 500 acre Erdenheim Farm (which means "Home on Earth" in German) owned by Mr. Dixon, on the Philadelpha city line.
That was the beginning of a successful 10 year relationship including a national championship at Grand Prix for Ellin in 1981.
Gunnar Østergaard's quiet and humble demeanor belies an impressive list of achievements. He has trained over 25 successful horses and/or riders to Grand Prix, won many national championships for himself and his students, competed successfully in Europe and had several Grand Prix wins at Devon and at the United States Equestrian Team's (USET) Festival of Champions. He also served on the USET's Planning and Selection Committee in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Gunnar trains in Wellington, Florida and his home country Denmark.