World of Showjumping
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Ebba Hansson: A key component in Casall Ask's consistency

Wednesday, 02 August 2017

Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping
Ebba and Celia with superstar Casall Ask. Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping

They say success is like an iceberg. Quite true: Watching showjumping, your eye meets what is easily observed. The public rarely gets to see all the work that lies behind those short moments in the spotlight.

How many stable managers, home grooms and home riders can you name? For sure far less than the names of famous riders. World of Showjumping turns the attention to those keeping the walls up at home, as we sit down with the women behind Casall Ask: Rolf-Göran Bengtsson’s grooms Celia Rintjes and Ebba Hansson.

Celia Rintjes has worked for Rolf for over 14 years. Celia and Ebba have clear roles on taking care of the 13 horses Rolf has at the moment. Celia does the shows, and Ebba keeps the stable running at home. “It works really good,” Ebba says about their solution. “I feel good about always being able to go to Celia, she has so much experience. I have responsibility, but I feel like I have someone backing me up – I can take a decision, but I have someone to consult,” she explains.

“I think the same way,” Celia continues. “I think it all works, because I know I can leave Ebba alone and let her do her thing. At the same time, she feels safe – because I am still there to help in case she needs guidance. There is no point for me to try and fix everything at home, because Ebba is the one who is there more. I am not going to force her into working in a way that does not suit her, only because I might want things done in a certain way,” Celia explains. “Usually there are a lot of things going on and we are there to keep things moving forward and allow Rolf to keep his focus on where it needs to be,” Celia continues. “Ebba is a great backup for Rolf: If he has no time to ride, she can take over. He can do more other things in this way. It is a good co-operation between all of us.”

“Ebba has played a big part in keeping Casall fit,” Rolf tells us about his Swedish co-worker. “She has been riding him at home when I have been away. Not only is she a hard worker, she is also a nice person to have around,” he says.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Casall Ask was retired at the age of 18 and is as fit as ever. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Ebba Hansson comes from a family of horse people. The 25-year-old has worked at Bengtsson’s German base in Breitenburg for nearly three years now. “I worked with horses in Sweden, but this was the first “real” job abroad for me. My parents rent a farm and my mother has a small riding school, so I have been surrounded by horses all my life,” Ebba tells. “I think I was only two years old when I got my first pony!”

Ebba heard about an opening at Rolf’s place through a friend. “Rolf was one of my childhood idols. When I started working here, I was scared,” she laughs. “But Celia is so relaxed with everything, so that made it all easier for me. I felt like I knew her – because I had seen her on TV,” she smiles. “I knew Celia has a lot of experience, so I had respect for her,” Ebba tells about her first days in Breitenburg.

“I always wanted to be a rider, but I know it takes a lot of work to do it, to come to the top,” she says. “I see the bigger picture now; sometimes I get to go to shows with Rolf and there is so much I can learn there. And just being at home riding his horses is a learning experience for me.”

Besides from grooming, Ebba also gets to compete a bit. “I have some young horses that I get to show sometimes. To get the help from Rolf is invaluable. My normal day would be starting at seven o’clock, putting the stallions in the walker. Then we do some stable work and have coffee at eight – a very important time of the day!” she laughs. “Mostly I ride until one, then I have lunch and I keep riding after that and finish off with some more stable work.”

Moving out of her home country put things into a new perspective for Ebba. “To be honest, when I was moving here I was not super positive about the country,” Ebba laughs. “Now, I don’t want to go back to Sweden! First of all, I am in love with the area here – it is really nice. And I like the system here and the atmosphere – it is different. I think I have grown as a person; I feel more calm and confident in a certain way – it helps you to grow, when you go out of your country. You get the feeling that you can handle yourself and you get stronger as a person.”

Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.
Ebba is responsible for the horses when they are home. Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

There is a certain stallion that has a special place in Ebba’s heart. “Casall is my favourite,” Ebba smiles. “In the beginning I could not understand how Rolf got him to canter – it took me a while to find his gears,” she laughs. “Now I love riding him. At the moment he is crazier than ever – just bucking around.”

With Casall being one of the most consistent showjumpers ever, we were curious to their keys to achieving it all – and how it all has felt. Because talking to Celia and Ebba, it seems like you cannot find a pair more grounded and calmer than these two. “Of course it feels good, it does,” Ebba says. “Maybe I don’t show it, but I feel very proud and blessed to have been a part of this legend. People always want to know the holy secret of why is Casall doing so well. But, it is not like there is some magic in it. It is just hard work, and sticking to a routine. This routine obviously works, so we stick to it,” she explains. “Celia is a big reason to why I have been so calm dealing with everything. There is no fuss.”

“I would try to stay home more when Casall was not going to shows,” Celia continues. “It was either me or Ebba that took care of him – it wasn’t like just anybody could touch him. In the last two years it was only Rolf or Ebba riding him,” she explains. “He had his daily routine and his people that he knew. And we know him – any little thing me and Ebba would notice – somebody who would not know him, it would have been harder to see these things.”

Casall is now happily enjoying his retirement days, but the daily work for Rolf’s team goes on. “I love to sit and ride, but I also feel really happy when everything just runs smoothly in the stables,” Ebba says. “When I see that hard work pays off, that inspires me to just keep on going. I think my parents have given up on the hope of me returning to Sweden!” she laughs.

“It hits me sometimes – even if it is a lot of work – that I just generally LOVE what I do!” Ebba smiles.


Text and pictures © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Casall Ask won his very last Grand Prix, and the grooms have played a big part of his success. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

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