Finnish rider Nina Fagerström works as a stable jockey in one of Belgium’s biggest trading stables, Stephex Stables. At the beginning of 2010 Nina was ranked somewhere between 150 and 160 at the Rolex ranking. In April 2011 she had become number 46. To make that big a climb in a year is nothing less than remarkable. If you have seen Nina ride you might not be that surprised though – this is a girl who always chases victory. She recently won the pair competition at the Saute Hermes show in Paris together with Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze after two speedy rounds. WoSJ sat down with Nina to hear about how she ended up in Belgium, learn a little about her horses and of course we wanted to find out about her goals and hopes for the 2011-season.
- How did you end up at Stephex? “When I finished school at 19 I planned a short break to find out what I wanted to do with my life. I spent the summer with Royne Zetterman who got me in contact with Stephex. After five years at Stephex I wanted to try out other jobs because I wanted to compete at a higher level which was a bit difficult at Stephex since I mostly had younger horses that were sold at an earlier stage. But when I was asked to come back to Stephex in 2007 I said yes. Turned out it wasn’t that much better anywhere else,” Nina explains. Her total time at Stephex now sums up to about nine years and it seems like she won’t leave anytime soon. “At Stephex I now also get horses with the possibility for the big classes,” Nina says. But this doesn’t equal educated horses. Nina is still the one doing the job with the horses and gets them ready for the big circuit. All of the three top horses - Mouse, Wivina and Talent – have been produced by Nina herself, and we get a distinct feeling that this is what Nina really loves.
- Nina tells us that Mouse and Talent are the two only horses at the stable that are not for sale; they are bought for Nina to compete with and from the beginning of 2011 there is a new sponsor on both horses, Meubelen Crack. All the other horses she rides are for sale though, which has to be considered when making plans for the season. “Wivina is probably my best championship horse, but I don’t know if I still have her when we get to the European Championship in September,” Nina says. “She is an outdoor-season horse - a course never feels too big with her, but she is a typical Baloubet – she is a bit much and it has taken time to know her.”
- So what are your plans for the 2011-season? “The Europeans,” Nina says. “And then I’m planning on several 3* and 4* shows. There are many really nice 3* and 4* shows with good prize money. I won’t ride too many 5* - less than one a month – these shows are hard for the horses”. - What about the Global Champions Tour – did you ride any legs last year? “No, I didn’t ride any GCT’s last year – this year I have an invitation for Monaco and then we’ll see,” Nina says.
- What are your thoughts about Finland - you don’t have a team to back you – how does this affect you? “When you never really had it, you don’t know what you are missing out on either,” Nina says with a laugh. “There are lots of people riding in Finland, but to make it you need to move abroad. There are not many people who are willing to move and let go of family and friends back home. It is a hard world if you want to make it as a showjumper. And then there is (of course) a question of money”.
- How has the attention from the media been this last year – has there been more interest with you in Finland with all the success? “There has been more and more news in the media on me and showjumping – attention from Finland is good – and of course important. At the Helsinki Horse Show in October it was important for me to make a good show.”
- Besides Wivina, Talent and Mouse - do you have any other horses we should look out for? "Uraquay (Chellano Z X Lancelot) is really good, but he only has a few shows so far. Then there is Viva (Corrado I X Nimmerdor). Viva is nine, but she’s had three foals and started the sport last summer. She will be a good 1.50-horse, but she needs to catch up.”
Nina is a real fighter and the WoSJ-team looks forward to follow her this season. We need more girls like her at the top of this sport!
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