Steckenpferdreiter Fountain

Place to see

This fountain was created in 1978/79 by the Osnabrück sculptor Hans Gerd Ruwe. With the figure of a hobby horse rider, the central bronze sculpture recalls the tradition of the annual Steckenpferdreiter (hobby horse) parade in Osnabrück. From 1980 to 2013, the fountain stood at the Osnabrück Stadthalle (civic centre). When the civic centre was rebuilt, the fountain was dismantled and restored. In 2015, it was moved to its current location at the more than 700-year-old St. Catherine's Church.

The sculptor Hans Gerd Ruwe

Numerous works by the sculptor Hans Gerd Ruwe (1926-1995), most of which are in bronze, can be found in his birthplace Osnabrück. Probably the best known of his mostly large and multi-figured works is the "Bürgerbrunnen" (Citizens' Fountain) on the Platz des Westfälischen Friedens (Square of the Peace of Westphalia), but the "Waschfrau" (Washerwoman) at Vitihof or the "Tiergericht" (Animal Court) at the zoo are also among his works. Other Ruwe creations can be found in Bad Iburg, Gütersloh and Quakenbrück, for example. 

The hobby horse ride

In commemoration of the proclamation of the Peace of Westphalia, the Osnabrück City Council has been organising the so-called hobby horse ride for year four (ten-year-old) school children every year around 25 October since the middle of the 20th century. This is associated with a children's festival in the centre of the old town. The first time the children paraded with their self-made hobby horses was on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the peace treaty on 22 October 1948. This recurring tradition playfully sets a sign for tolerance and peaceful coexistence. In the schools, the children are prepared for this special event with historical background information and instructions on how to build their hobby horse. The procession through the city leads the approximately 1,400 riders led by city pipers with their colourful paper hats to the city hall. There, each child is presented with a sugar pretzel by the Lord Mayor of Osnabrück. Afterwards, the hobbyhorse song is sung together. Fireworks on the square in front of the town hall bring the festival to a close.

The hobby horse song

In addition to a newer version by composer Stephan Rodefeld, there is the traditional hobbyhorse song by Anke Kiehl and Tilo Schwutke from 1994, which the children sing as they ride their hobbyhorses:

We riders gallop through Osnabrück and sing for peace.
We riders gallop through Osnabrück, that’s worth a second look.
We shout loud and ride as fast as we please.
We riders gallop through Osnabrück, that’s worth a second look.
There are so many people here, all so different,
But that doesn't get us off track, we're not strangers at all!
I am green, you are yellow, she is red, he is blue, for this world is colourful.
We riders go through Osnabrück, that’s worth a second look.
I like blue, you love yellow, she adores violet,
And it's nice when there's lots of us, then we're multicoloured!
I am green, you are yellow, she is red, he is blue, for this world is colourful.
We riders gallop through Osnabrück, that’s worth a second look.

The fourth stanza corresponds to the first.

Historical background of hobby horse riding

The historical background of hobby horse riding goes back to the legend of an event in Nuremberg in 1650. According to the legend, boys rode their hobby horses to the Emperor's delegation and asked for a memento for peace. Historically documented are square coins of the imperial city of Nuremberg from this year. They show a boy on a hobby horse on one of the two sides.
The two Emsland poets Clara and Emmy von Dincklage took up the story in 1875 and transposed it to Osnabrück. Their story "Die Steckenpferd-Reiter" (the hobby horse riders) thus forms the basis of this Osnabrück custom.

Address & contact

Steckenpferdreiter Fountain
An der Katharinenkirche
49074 Osnabrück

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