On the eve of the FEI European Eventing Championships, we talk to the talented young Swede, Ludwig Svennerstål about his inspirations, the road to Rio and the change of plan for his ride at Blair.
Thursday 10th September – we are very sad to hear that Ludwig has withdrawn Franzipan following an undiagnosed problem. We know their day will come and cannot imagine the disappointment that Ludwig and all connections are experiencing tonight. We wish Franzipan a speedy recovery.
At the London Olympics 2012 Svennerstål confirmed that he meant business. He was the youngest rider at the Games, at 21 years old having qualified to compete in the individual finals with his Hanoverian gelding Shamwari. The Swedish team finished just outside the podium in 4th place. Ludwig now already in 2015 has two of his top horses qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.
Ludwig´s ambition to become established on the international stage was realized in 2013, when he won a Team Silver Medal at the European Championships in Malmö, Sweden, with his Olympic horse, Shamwari. The horse and rider combination had their hands on an individual medal, but after two poles came flying down during the final phase of show jumping, they had to settle for a team silver and a 10th individual placing.
This super performance, and an 11th place with his other mount, King Bob, at Luhmülen CCI4* and a 9th place at the Burghley CCI4* Horse Trials, were major reasons why Ludwig was nominated, and winner of the UK prestigious Shearwater/ERA Rising Star Award 2013 at the Event Riders Association’s annual ball.
It is funny because I hated horses when I was younger because we had to go to the stables with my parents. Most of the time our parents let us stay at home as we were so naughty. My mother rode up to novice and my father did one intro so riding was in our lives. I remember a summer when I was 8 or 9 and I told my mother I wanted to ride – she was so shocked! My parents trained with Swedish rider Tobias Grönberg and also owned a horse with him and I really looked up to him.
He really was my childhood hero I think. Growing up in Sweden riders like William Fox-Pitt and Lucinda Green were so far away so I couldn’t really connect with them. Tobias was an amazing rider and I got inspired. I started at a riding school once a week and I was terrified! I remember standing in the middle of the arena refusing to move – just me and lots of girls. My mother kept saying things like if you don’t like it, why are you doing it !
But I really enjoyed playing follow the leader and I had to be at the front. My riding teacher always said, ‘you can only do it if you ride properly’, so I did. The big change came when my sister, who was really talented and much braver than me, got her first pony. I got to share it and rode it twice a week. And the rest as they say is history!
Tobias Grönberg was the big influence when I was much younger but Sir Mark Todd, who I am based with and see ride every day, is an amazing horseman. Tom McEwan is also at the yard and I believe is one of the top British riders. He is still quite young but doesn’t have a weak phase. It is just a matter of time before he wins big.
I really admire Ingrid Klimke. She is extremely classical and has an amazing thought of how you treat a horse and how you build a horse. You only have to see how Escada has developed from being tense to being relaxed in his tests now. And of course, Micheal Jung – you don’t need to say anything about him!
Definitely Burghley. The Olympics was great and being there was a dream come true but it was almost surreal and went so fast. It was an incredible show but I have always had amazing times at Burghley.
I will be riding my second horse Franzipan, as sadly my first horse, King Bob, sustained a minor injury after the cross country in Aachen. It’s far from ideal as he was most suitable for the Europeans and I am very sad not to have him with me as I love him very much. I competed my first 4* on him at Burghley, although I did fall off… But he doesn’t owe me anything and is now enjoying a little holiday. My other horse, Franzipan, is really nice but still a bit weak and green. We now need to see how she goes but she feels ready. We will see. She was super at Chatsworth and Bramham but ideally I would have liked one more year getting to know her as we have only had her a year. Nevertheless, it’s now or never as we (Sweden) need to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Blair so there is a bit of pressure and no option not to perform, so we’re going to give it all we got. We need to be in the top 2 that haven’t already qualified along with Belgium, France and Italy.
Always the brain. With that comes rideability and with a horse that wants to do it, you can teach them so much. Sometimes you see horses with amazing movement and a good jump but the brain isn’t there. If you look at La Biosthetique Sam, for example, ridden by Michael Jung, the horse has a very good brain (and a very good jockey!) but the horse lets him ride him.
Probably a rude banker! I don’t know, maybe a management consultant.
I don’t believe in luck – I believe that you make your luck
I don’t think I do unwind. I’m too old to be a party animal – those days have gone and at this level, you have to keep focused. Generally I am pretty relaxed but I do get tense when things don’t go to plan.
Wallet, phone and passport – you never know when you need a quick getaway.
It would have to be going to an event and looking at horses. I really love horses, I love looking at them, seeing their potential plus I sell a few and have a general love for seeing what is happening. I am more stressed being away from the horses.
I think there are a lot of good products out there but, for me, it is about what suits the horse. Good feed is crucial and I only work with products I believe in. Keyflow Feeds keep my horses looking fantastic plus a really good saddle is crucial for the horse and I use Voltaire saddles. We try to keep it pretty simple with regards to kit but my magnetic rug really helps my horses to relax their backs.
I have a personal mission to do well as I lost out on a gold medal at the Young Riders because I rode too fast there. For me, it’s payback time! It will probably be a bit wet but I have prepared my horse as well as I can and we will obviously deal with it when we get there. We will ride it in the best possible way – it is what it is – it’s Blair !
We wish all riders, grooms, horses and connections a safe and fun Championships.
Check out Ludwig’s epic head cam footage from Aachen.
Facebook: Ludwig Svennerstal
Nipet Horse: www.nipet.se/