is the U.S. Equestrian Federation para-equestrian dressage chef d’équipe, a role that culminates more than four decades of successful riding, competing and training at the international level across dressage, show jumping and eventing.
Kai grew up in a horse family—his parents rode for leisure in their hometown of Kassel, Germany. His grandfather was a horse dealer with a farm in Mecklenburg. Kai started riding when he was 6 and was competing on jumpers by the time he was 8. He “disliked ponies” because as a developing rider in Germany at that time “you tried to ride the biggest and fastest horse you could get on. We used to line up our horses on the river bottom and race as fast as we could.”
An avid competitor throughout his adolescent and teen years, Kai was awarded his German bronze, silver and gold medals before reaching the age of 18. He spent five years employed at Prestiges Verein fuer Reitspor, one of Germany’s most respected training facilities at the time. He relocated to the United States in 1985 and a year later purchased a facility in Wylie, Texas, which would become the North Texas Equestrian Center, where he is currently the owner and head trainer.
NTEC trains riders in all disciplines from beginner to Grand Prix level. NTEC is also a major training ground for para-dressage. Kai was the U.S. chef d’équipe for the Para-Equestrian Dressage Team at the 2016 Paralympics and at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and the individual coach for one or more riders at the 2009–2012 and 2014 USEF National Para-Dressage Championships.
Kai sponsored and coached the late para-dressage rider Jonathan Wentz with remarkable success. Jonathan competed as a U.S. team member at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, was the 2011 U.S. Para-Equestrian National Champion and earned a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Team that competed at the 2012 London Olympics. Jonathan and his partner, NTEC Richter Scale, were the highest-placed U.S. equestrian combination in London and narrowly missed an individual medal.
Kai lives with his family in Wylie, Texas. His daughter, Julie Handt, is a competitive dressage rider and has competed at the Grand Prix level. His wife, Rachel Zent Handt, competes in the Amateur-Owner jumper division.