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WoSJ Exclusive; Angelica Augustsson – a Swedish Superstar

Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Interview

Angelica Augustsson and Mic Mac du Tillard in Nörten-Hardenberg. All photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Angelica Augustsson and Mic Mac du Tillard in Nörten-Hardenberg. All photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

A moment of magic was created when Angelica Augustsson won the World Cup qualifier in Gothenburg in February this year; this young and extremely talented girl blew us all away, and stole the limelight from riders such as Ludger Beerbaum and Edwina Alexander. Four months later WoSJ sat down with Angelica, and discovered her to be a girl with great respect for her horses, competitors and for how this sport works.

Angelica’s career as a rider started out as it does for most of us, at the local riding school. “I don’t come from a family with horse traditions, but nevertheless I started riding at a young age. When I was nine years old I got my first pony and began to compete. I rode the National Championships, the Nordic Championships and the Europeans as a pony rider. As a junior I won the National Championship and a competition called “Tomorrow’s Star” at Gothenburg Horse Show. I also rode the Europeans as a junior and young rider,” Angelica lets us know about her background.

It was in 2005 that Angelica first met Dietmar Gugler – the current German show jumper talent trainer that runs a big stable outside Frankfurt – who the Swedish girl now works for. “Later we were at his stable trying out some horses and Dietmar asked if I wanted to come and work for him,” Angelica explains on how she ended up in Germany back in 2006.

Angelica Augustsson and Walter in Gothenburg.
The big breakthrough; Angelica in Gothenburg - here with Walter 61, on whom she was second in the GP. The next day she won the World Cup qualifier.

Leaving family and friends behind as a 19 year old can’t be easy, but Angelica gives proof that she has always been ambitious and determined; “It was hard to leave, but if you want the reach the top you have to make sacrifices. I was very sure that I wanted to do exactly that,” Angelica says. “I have kept some of my friends, but it gets difficult to keep in touch over time. I’m home with my family at Christmas, and also try to go home once more every year. And then I’m home when the bigger shows in Sweden are on,” she smiles shyly.

Angelica is confident that moving to Germany has been of big importance to her career; “If I hadn’t gone to Germany, I would not have achieved the same results that I can now look back on. I’m not of the opinion that you have to move out of Scandinavia to get better as a rider, but to train and compete abroad is a must – in my opinion it’s not enough to travel abroad to competitions two or three times a year if you want to reach top level. My point of view is that you never get better than the competition you’re riding against, so if you want to reach top level you have to compete against those top level riders. You learn so much by watching the best,” Angelica explains of the hard road that not many are willing to walk down.

It seems quite clear that Angelica’s focus is on her riding only – she seems very humble as to what she has achieved, and does not in any way appear to be too fond of the spotlight that her recent success has brought with it. “When I won in Gothenburg, it was hard to take everything in. Everything worked out that weekend. Afterwards I realized how big it was, with the attention from the press and everything,” she says looking down. When we ask her how she resets herself after such a big win, Angelica quickly looks up with a strong gaze and says “I’m always motivated. It’s vital to never think that a win such as that make you any better than you were before you arrived at the show. One shouldn’t change anything just because of success.” With a win at the Sauté Hermes show in Paris this spring, a win in the Grand Prix in Nörten-Hardenberg, a second in the Grand Prix in Wiesbaden (she was only beaten by Ludger Beerbaum), a win in a 1.50-class in Drammen and a second from the five star Grand Prix in Falsterbo two weeks ago as well as a second with the Swedish team in the FEI Nations Cup, it sure seems that Angelica’s recipe is working.

Angelica points out that she has a strong team behind her, with her boss Dietmar Gugler, her horse owners, the riders at home at Gugler’s yard and the grooms – all backing her up. “There is a great amount of work and planning behind what we have achieved,” Angelica points out. “The management behind each horse is individual. At the beginning of either the indoor or outdoor season we always start up with lower classes, no matter what level the horse is at. Then we build each horse up, and adjust training and shows to what they need – some horses need more work and more shows than others, while some less. I make the plans for each horse together with Dietmar,” Angelica explains.

Angelica Augustsson and Mic Mac du Tillard.
No challenge is too big for Angelica and Mic Mac.

Mic Mac du Tillard – the hot chestnut mare that partnered Angelica when she won in Gothenburg – is no doubt very special to Angelica. “I rode Mic Mac from she was six until she was eight; before I started riding her she had been tried out by many riders, but none of them wanted to put the work that was required in to her. Mic Mac was really difficult, but Dietmar was of the opinion that she was an unbelievable horse so I decided to put my heart and soul into her,” Angelica says about her favorite horse. “When Mic Mac reached seven the hard work started to pay off, and she started to get some nice results. The good results continued, and as an eight year old she was sold to the US,” Angelica lets us know. From there on Mic Mac was ridden by the American rider Georgina Bloomberg – and was known as Midtown du Tillard, as Bloomberg’s father is the mayor of New York – a name the mare still carried in Gothenburg, but which Angelica quickly got changed into the original one.

Because Mic Mac came back to Angelica; “We bought her back around august 2010, as it didn’t work out as planned with her new rider,” the Swedish girl says about the horse that fits her stylish rider like a hand in a glove – it’s almost like the return of Mic Mac was meant to be. “She is the absolutely best horse I have ever ridden,” Angelica smiles when describing the 11 year old Cruising-mare. “She is a difficult and special horse, but she has a heart of gold and always fights to the very last. I have won Mic Mac’s trust, and she does everything for me now,” Angelica says about her top horse that no longer is for sale.

Angelica also has two other very good horses, the nine year old Walter 61 and the eight year old Quick Diamond. On Walter she was second in the Grand Prix in Gothenburg, and Angelica describes him as “A horse that will turn out really nice, but he needs a little more routine. He has plenty of capacity!” The gelding Quick Diamond came to Angelica recently, and Angelica explains that she has only ridden three shows on him and that the Grand Prix in Drammen was to be the biggest test for the chestnut so far.

This year has seen Angelica’s big breakthrough and we wonder what the talented rider’s plans are for the rest of the season. “Earlier this year I was not aiming for the Europeans, I just wanted to see how the season turned out before pointing towards the championship as a goal. Now on the other hand I am aiming towards Madrid in September, because at the present Mic Mac feels good enough to cope with that task. If I get selected I would be very happy,” Angelica says modestly.

Angelica Augustsson.
At work; Angelica walking the course in Falsterbo.

Angelica stays firmly grounded, and shows zero signs of being affected by her recent fame. Does she have any advice to other up-and-coming riders that want to be like her? “I think it is very important to learn from other riders; from every one of them there is something that you could use in your own work. I watch them ride their horses in the morning and in the ring, and always pick up useful things. And another thing is that if you want to succeed in this sport it takes time and a lot of hard work,” Angelica says on her key to success. “I don’t have one role model, I look up to several of the riders – but Marcus Ehning has always been a favorite to watch,” Angelica continues.

Ludger Beerbaum has described her as “a pleasure to watch”. Henk Nooren named her as one of the biggest talents in Europe. The Swedes have a new superstar, and she is here to stay. Her name is Angelica Augustsson.

 

Photos by Jenny Abrahamsson/Text by Jannicke Naustdal - copyright © worldofshowjumping.com 2011.
 

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