World of Showjumping
Menu

This week

Coming weeks

ECCO FEI World Championships ...
Denmark

CSI3* Traverse City
USA

CSI3* Herning
Denmark

CSI3* Sentower Park
Belgium

CSI3* Vancouver - Langley ...
Canada

CSI3* Deauville
France

CSI2* Millstreet
Ireland

CSI2* Harthill
Great Britain

CSI2* Houten
The Netherlands

CSI2* Cervia
Italy

Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli: “To move up a level, you need to go out of your comfort zone, even if it might make you nervous”

Saturday, 23 July 2022
Interview

Photo © Nanna Nieminen/WoSJ
“I always believe that if you really want something to work, you will make it work," Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli says. Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

World of Showjumping sat down with Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli, who has returned to top level showjumping after three maternity leaves. In 2013, Augustsson was part of the Swedish team that took the bronze medal at the European Championships in Herning, Denmark, with the feisty Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising x Galoubet A). Last year, the Swedish 35-year-old returned to do another championship for Sweden when jumping at the Longines FEI European Championships in Riesenbeck, Germany, on another fiery chestnut – the 12-year-old Kalinka van de Nachtengaele (Epleaser van’T Heike x Cicero Z), that also was Augustsson Zanotelli's partner at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2022 in Leipzig, Germany. 

“I think I will always be – for good or for bad – remembered with Mic Mac, because she was impressive and won over peoples’ hearts with the way she was,” Angelica smiles. “She was a real character, and we had a fantastic time together. When someone has a difficult horse, I might pop up in their mind as a person who might be able to ride it – which is good, but at the same time, I also like to ride the easier horses.”

New goals

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli has returned to the top-level with the fiery chestnut mare Kalinka van de Nachtengaele. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Angelica is a firm believer in setting goals and pursuing them, and having a family with her Brazilian husband Marlon Modolo Zanotelli was never going to stop her from competing at the highest level. “I believe that when you start something, you have to put up a goal of what you wish to achieve,” Angelica explains. “When Marlon and I decided that we wanted to have a family, my plan was always to try and get back to the top sport later on. However, I knew it would not be easy. In between each child – we have three now – I did come back to a certain level, and then after our third child Maya, I said I would really like to get back to the top sport for good because that had been the plan all along.”

Getting to ride Kalinka van de Nachtegaele – owned by Paul Peeters – helped Angelica get back to where she wanted to be. “I think the reason I was able to get back so quickly was thanks to the team around us and our horse owners: They kept the horses while I was pregnant,” Angelica says. “Kalinka is a very good horse; she has all the scope, she is very careful. She has a lot of blood and for me, she has everything you need in a horse for the biggest classes. She still needs more experience on the top level though, but I think she is a horse that will only get better with age. I have high hopes for her.”

Out of the comfort zone

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
“Getting into shows is not easy when you are low on the ranking," Angelica tells about her comeback to five-star level. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Angelica’s return to the international show rings was not plain sailing though. “Getting into shows is not easy when you are low on the ranking. However, if you want something really bad, you can make it happen – that is something I believe in. It was not easy for me; I was calling organisers, begging them to let me ride at their shows. I did get into some nice shows, but it was not that I got the invitations automatically; I had to work,” Angelica says. 

“After returning from my last maternity leave in 2021, I did one show in Bonheiden and then went to the CSI2* in St. Tropez,” Angelica tells. “Once I was there, I was told I could do the four-star event as well if I wanted to. I did the four-star there and it went well, and then our Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona asked if I wanted to ride the five-star Nations Cup in Rome – so it all went very quickly. I think it is important that you challenge yourself a little bit: If I did not get the request to ride the four-star, I would not have done it and if I didn’t get the phone call to ride the five-star Nations Cup in Rome, I would not have asked for it. Sometimes, to move up a level, you need to go out of your comfort zone, even if it might make you nervous.”

“Our Chef d’Equipe gave me a chance and after Rome I got to do another Nations Cup in La Baule, and then we went to Stockholm for the Global Champions Tour,” Angelica continues. “One thing led to another and I got selected for the Swedish team for last year's European Championships in Riesenbeck.”

The Swedish team spirit

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
"The biggest shows is what I love to do; riding with the best riders and horses in the world, learning from them and competing against them.”Angelica says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I think there is no secret,” Angelica says when asked about the incredible success the Swedish riders have enjoyed lately. “We have good riders in Sweden and at the moment we have very good horses. Henrik Ankarcrona does a great job in managing us and we are a good team; everyone wants to help each other. There is a very strong team spirit and I think that is the key. We are all big fans of our Chef d’Equipe; he is good in bringing the best out of the riders. We have super riders on super horses, with good sponsors – when all that comes together, results follow.”

“For sure the Paris Olympics are on my mind,” Angelica tells about her long-term goals. “That is something I believe every rider would love to do. However, I love to compete on the top and my main aim is to establish a nice team of horses for that. I also love producing horses on the lower levels, but in the end, the biggest shows is what I love to do; riding with the best riders and horses in the world, learning from them and competing against them.”

Producing horses for the top

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
“We try to produce young horses ourselves and hope that one of them turns out good," Angelica tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“My best horses at the moment are Kalinka, Nintender Star (Nintender x Star Kingdom) and Danna RJ (Quiz Time x Candidus),” Angelica tells about her string of horses for the 2022-season. “I can jump the bigger classes with them and then I have a few very nice 9-year-olds that are a bit green, but that maybe can jump something bigger towards the end of the season.”

“There are for sure more good riders than there are good horses,” Angelica continues. “We try to produce young horses ourselves and hope that some of them turn out good. We have investors that we buy horses together with. When we find a good horse we can afford, we buy anything from four to ten-year-olds. Sometimes they get sold on the way, because we are still in the beginning of our business and to make it all go around, we simply have to sell. We like to give the young horses time though and not rush them too much, that is the system we believe in. It is the same as for a rider going into the top sport; the horse has to be ready, both physically and mentally. For sure if you manage to get one horse that you can bring to the bigger shows, there is a better chance you can get other good horses to ride – because that is where people want to see their horses; at the big shows. I am always open for new horses to ride, especially now that I can compete on some of the Globals – ideally, I would need a few more older horses that can jump on higher level." 

Combining family life with top sport

Photo © Nanna Nieminen/WoSJ
“For me, it is important that whatever I do, I do it 100%,” Angelica says. Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

“I think there are many women who have children and then probably decide to focus more on the family and put the top competition to the side, which I understand,” Angelica says about the small number of female riders in the very top of the sport. “However, I believe that you can do both very well if you want to – but you have to be organised. I have a lot of help at home, especially from Marlon’s parents. They help with the kids and most of the time they come with us to the shows. That is one of the things I wanted: To do the top sport, with all of us together. I don’t want the kids to be alone at home while we are out competing, that has been important for me. I think we are very lucky; most of the time we are together. Good and bad days, either way it is nicer to do it together. As a family, we are very close and we are really suffering when we are apart.”

“For me, it is important that whatever I do, I do it 100%,” Angelica continues. “When I am riding, I am totally focused on riding and when I am with the kids, I am fully with them – I try not do anything half-heartedly. Sometimes it is easier said than done, but that is my aim.”

“I always believe that if you really want something to work, you will make it work,” Angelica says firmly. “With horses and with the business, I think that is what drives me. It is not easy, but we have a very good team of horse owners, sponsors, investors and partners around us. In the beginning, when we started up on our own, Marlon’s father Mario helped us to make a good business plan. He is very experienced and a good financial plan has helped us a lot in building our own business.”

The right trainers

Photo © Nanna Nieminen/WoSJ
"To be at your best, you have to be mentally prepared and calm," Angelica says. Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

Finding the right trainers has made a difference for Angelica, both mentally and physically. “We work with Esther Miller, a Swiss mental coach,” she tells. “It is not regular, but we have some tools from her that we use and when we feel like we need it, we have a session with her. Being able to focus in the right way at the right time and being able to control your nerves is very important. To be at your best, you have to be mentally prepared and calm. Sometimes I get nervous: I want to do good, and at times I still need to believe in myself more. I could be more confident going into a big class, that is something I have been working on lately, especially now after having kids.”

“We also have a personal trainer that we work with every week,” Angelica continues. “As a rider, it is important to stay fit and strong, also in order to prevent injuries and to have full body control. Also, I think it is crucial to have the right trainer and be sure to work on the right things; just going blindly to the gym and lifting stuff, I don’t believe in that. For me, our trainer Diego – who is only focused on riders – has made a big difference. I can tell you that when I was riding every day, I did not think it was hard work. But after having a break of six months, being pregnant and coming back, it was really physically tough to get back on a horse. Getting these big animals on your side, listening to your commands – riding really is a demanding sport.”

A long way to go

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
"You need to work hard and be patient – many things have to go right before you can ride on the top," Angelica says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“When you see the younger riders, you can tell they are ambitious, but they don’t seem to know exactly how much work they need to put into it. I think most people don’t understand that it is quite a long way to get there,” Angelica says about the road to the top. “It is not that you can just get thrown into the top sport; you have a lot to learn on the way there, many experiences to gain and many mistakes to make. You need to not rush it, because it is tough and you have to be ready once you get there. If you look at all the riders that are on the top now, they have worked really hard for years. Also, it is one thing to get to the top, and another to stay there. You need to work hard and be patient – many things have to go right before you can ride on the top.”

“However, I think we are very lucky and privileged, getting to do what we do,” Angelica concludes. “I enjoy all of it – the whole package you get from working with horses. There are so many nice things in our sport; the fact that you can work outside every day, all the different venues we get to see, the connection you build with the horses… I feel very lucky to be doing what I do.”

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping.com



This photo has been added to your cart !

Your shopping cart »
This website is using cookies for statistics, site optimization and retargeting purposes. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website. Read more here.