Since Angelica Augustsson jumped into the spotlight on Mic Mac du Tillard with a sensational World Cup win on home soil in Gothenburg in 2011 – hitting the headlines world wide – a lot has happened in her life. First of all the 27 year old Swedish rider added her first senior championship medal to her tally, as she together with her team mates took home the bronze medal at the European Championships in Herning last August – again riding Mic Mac du Tillard. Success, and the extremely special bond to her four-legged partner Mic Mac, did not stand in Angelica's way of making a big change in her life though – as she started up 2014 moving from Dietmar Gugler's Gestüt Prinzenberg in Germany to Enda Carroll's Ashford Farm in Belgium. Closing an eight year old chapter with Gugler, Angelica turned the page to start up with a blank one – but quickly discovered that the pages were filling faster than she thought they would.
Working for Gugler from she was 19, leaving was no easy decision for Angelica. "In the end it is about the people. It took me a long time to make the decision to move, from I started thinking about it until I actually did it. After all I had built up a group of people around me in Pfungstadt – a family away from my family at home, and great friends," Angelica explains while we sit around the table at Carroll's newly built yard in Bocholt, Belgium. "It was a quite huge step for me to move here, I had been with Dietmar for so many years – so it was a hard decision to make. I learned so much from Dietmar, and had an amazing time there – but I think it is only natural that you at some point in your career want to move on."
"The hardest part – that was leaving Dietmar and Sylvia. We were very close. I had a dialogue with Dietmar all along though; it was not like I walked into his office and said 'Hi, I am leaving'. I asked him what he thought about the offer I had been given, and for his advice," Angelica explains on the process of leaving Germany and her long-time boss – who she on the day of her farewell-party gave the medal from the Europeans as a present. He refused to take it. She insisted, and Dietmar kept it. "And of course leaving Mic Mac was terrible," she adds. "I loved that horse".
That she was approached by Enda Carroll, might have made the decision a little bit easier though. Not only did Angelica know Carroll well from their days together at the junior rider circuit, she was also seeing Ashford Farm's top rider Marlon Zanotelli – who she now lives together with. A move made sense both privately and career wise. "It felt like if I was going to work somewhere else, Ashford would be the right place. I also knew that Enda works extremely hard, and although this is a dealing stable he is all about the sport and does a lot to keep his riders competing at a high level," Angelica says. "And I think it was a good decision. There are really nice people here, a great team – I really enjoy my work here!"
Changing jobs sometimes means taking a few steps backwards to then make one forwards. That was also what Angelica was prepared to do. "I knew this would be a kind of transition-year for me. I was used to going to some top shows with the horses I had riding for Dietmar, but when I came here I was prepared to ride at a lower level for quite a while. Many have asked me if that was hard for me, but I mean – I knew it would be like that and I was motivated to do it in this way. I was ready to take a few steps backwards and build up a new group of horses to work my way back up."
It went a lot faster than she thought though, and Angelica's board of horses in the stable is already filled with new super stars. "I already have a good group of horses ready to compete at top level, which feels great. It makes me extra motivated; to see that the work I did the last months is paying off already," she smiles. "The horses have all developed so well, so I take less reservations than I did before as to my goals this year and I have World Equestrian Games in my mind now."
And indeed the work is paying off. Quiet Easy is a horse more or less transformed from a former career as speed horse, and now jumps five star Grand Prix classes and Nations Cups. "This is a horse I really believe in. I jumped my first five star Grand Prix with him in Lummen, and then he was double clear in the Nations Cup in Odense. Quiet Easy is a very hot horse, but he is confident in the ring – which I really love. He is a careful and fast type," Angelica says of the 10 year old gelding she has been riding since early spring. Then there is the newly arrived Snapchat who Angelica and Enda found competing at national Grand Prix level in Italy. Snapchat – also 10 – is described by Angelica as "a beautiful horse, and so easy to ride – with a fantastic personality." She has high hopes for this mare she adds, and thinks it in time will be the best in her stable.
The list goes on though. Angelica also has the nine year old Neat Krakatoa, who she says is a "fantastic horse" adding that he is "scopey and careful, but needs a bit more show mileage." And then there is Marlon's former ride Madame Butterfly that she now rides, Feldrose – a mare previously seen under Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and the seven year old Diamant de Semilly-mare Typie that Angelica finds to be very promising. "Typie is actually owned by Mic Mac's breeder and owner Bernadette Lejeune," she explains.
The performances Angelica's new group of horses are putting on display, are a result of several hours a day on the horse back. "We work a lot here, but it's something I really enjoy," she smiles. "Usually we go to shows from Thursdays to Sundays, and then when I get home I want to ride the horses I was not on during the weekend." Her boss Enda Carroll is praised by his new rider. "Enda is not only my boss, but also my friend. He thinks a lot about the people working for him, and he cares about each and everyone here – and about our quality of life."
As to her boyfriend and colleague Marlon, the two are just as close as they seem from the outside. "Yes, we work closely together," Angelica says. "Marlon is extremely good at what he is doing, and he is especially good at reading the horses. We both take a look at each other when we ride, and give each other our opinions – playing around with ideas," she says. "I have to say you just learn a lot looking at each other ride."
The big team at Ashford also consists of Pieter Clemens and Duarte Romao, and Angelica finds herself being surrounded by some great riders. "It's nice to have support from each other at the shows, both at the warm-up and when you are in the ring. It's a security to have such good riders to work with! And they are all nice and easy-going."
Great horses, great boyfriend, great boss, great colleagues. We think it's pretty safe to say that the best stories in Angelica's life are yet to tell, and they will fill up that next chapter.
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