Born in a suburb of Vienna to a non-horsey family, Hans Moeller entered the military after high school and ended up in the horse-drawn artillery. From 1936 to 1938, he attended the Austrian Army's Institute for Riding Instructors near Vienna. There he became good friends with Hans Handler, a future director of the Spanish Riding School. Read more
When Nazi Germany took over Austria during World War II, all Austrian military officers were made members of the German army. As such, Moeller spent time in France and then on the Russian front, and later was captured by U.S. troops and sent to the States as a prisoner of war. He was released when the war ended and returned home to Austria in 1946.
After the war, Moeller worked for the provincial government and with the Marshall Plan. In 1952, he married Joan, a student at the Spanish Riding School. The couple moved to the Chicago area, where Moeller went to work for an advertising agency. But soon the lure of horses and riding beckoned, and he accepted a position in Oregon at Mills College Stables.
Eventually Moeller and his wife moved to California, where they settled first at John Galvin's Rancho San Fernando Ray in the Santa Ynez Valley, and then in the San Francisco Bay area. Moeller became interested in the education of young riders and would go on to be a major supporter of the United States Pony Clubs. He also taught and coached several promising U.S. dressage riders. Under his tutelage, John Galvin's daughter Patricia won America's first international dressage gold medal at the 1959 Pan American Games; and fellow Californian Kyra Downton competed in the 1968 Olympics. He also coached a number of event riders in the 1960s.
Another of Moeller's interests was the fledgling American Dressage Institute, a dressage training center headquartered in Saratoga Springs, NY. He was one of the ADI's earliest clinicians, and he helped to bring fellow dressage masters Hans Handler, Gustav Niblaeus, and Bengt Ljungquist to the United States.
Also a respected judge, Moeller officiated at many U.S. dressage championships and selection trials. In fact, one of his most significant areas of contribution to U.S. dressage was in the area of judge education. A "guiding light" of the California Dressage Society who served as a professional advisor from the organization's inception until 1986, Moeller helped to develop CDS's judge-education program and the first formal dressage judges' forums. His curriculum incorporating substantial theoretical instruction was so successful that today it is an element of the USDF "L" Education Program for Judge Training.