World of Showjumping
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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Carlo 273

Tuesday, 28 November 2017
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Sergio Alvarez Moya with Carlo 273. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. Sergio Alvarez Moya with Carlo 273. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

A crowd favourite for almost a decade, Carlo 273 has stolen many hearts – first with Nick Skelton and later with Sergio Alvarez Moya in the saddle. The flamboyant grey has an enormous presence in the ring, and is a spectacular jumper. At the age of 16, Carlo has jumped at the Olympic Games, made three appearances at the European Championships as well as competing in two World Cup Finals.

Was Carlo always destined for stardom though? World of Showjumping speaks to German rider Jörg Naeve, who not only found Carlo – but also Nick Skelton’s hugely successful stallion Arko.   

“The first time I saw Carlo was at a show when he was a 4-year-old,” Naeve says. “I believe it was the first show he jumped. After, I went to his breeder and owner Hans Werner Ritters and asked if I could try Carlo. Ritters – a famous breeder in Holstein – told me that the horse would be quite expensive, but I was not put off and said I would try him for the price he wanted.”

“I went to try Carlo, and in a really small ring – I think it must have been 12 x 30 meters or something. And he was so, so wild! Sometimes I just had to do the jumps out of trot because he was all over the place. His jump was amazing though, and he gave me a really good feeling. It ended with me buying half of the horse from Ritters, and three-four months later I bought the other half too. At that time, he was a really expensive horse – so there was a bit of risk included although I really believed in him,” Jörg tells.

“Carlo definitely kept his wildness as a youngster, and he really had a character! Once, when he was five, we took him to a qualifier for the Bundeschampionat. I went off to walk the course, while my groom was at the truck and she was trying to plait him. Shortly after someone came running to me, shouting I have to go to my truck because it would be completely smashed if I don’t – a horse was going crazy. That was Carlo. Let’s say like this: We did not attempt to plait him again, and I don’t think I ever saw him with plaits with anybody else either – for a good reason, he hates it!” Jörg laughs.

“Apart from that, Carlo was always nice to handle – he would just get easily scared of sounds or wind and things like that. If he came to a new place, it was always interesting. I think the first time Nick brought him to Aachen, he had to ride him three times a day to make him calm down with everything going on,” he laughs. 

Nick Skelton with Carlo. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. Nick Skelton with Carlo. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“When he was five, Carlo jumped clear after clear. He was really an amazing jumper. When people saw him, they almost did not believe what they saw. But he was just like that from nature – for him it was normal. He was always outstanding, and exceptionally careful. Combined with his character, he just had it all,” Jörg says.

“Carlo was five when Nick bought half of him. Usually he would never buy such a young horse, but Carlo was something different. Also, Nick had already bought Arko and Nemo from me – so we had done a lot of business together at that point,” Jörg continues.

“Carlo’s story could not be more different than that of Arko however,” Jörg shoots in. “I got Arko when he was three or four, and unlike Carlo he was a very normal horse to begin with – actually he was rather slow. It was first after his first Bundeschampionat as a 5-year-old that he really started to jump good, he was not a wonder-child from the beginning like Carlo was. Then as a 6-year-old, Arko was sold to John Hales and Nick started to ride him.”

“Back to Carlo: At the end of his 6th year, Nick took him with to Florida and then when he was seven Beverly Widdowson – Nick’s sponsor – bought him and the rest is history: In 2011, they won team and individual bronze at the Europeans in Madrid, and he has been one of the most successful horses in the sport since.”

“With Arko and Carlo, I think what I did right was to follow my own feeling,” Jörg explains about finding two of the best horses in jumping history. “And, another important thing: I was quick. You can’t waste time when you have horses like that on your hand. Back then with Carlo, it was like I said quite a lot of money that I had to pay for him – but in general I am willing to do that with young horses if I have a really good feeling. You have to be willing to take a bit risk, and for me it paid off.”

“I never thought about that I should have kept them for myself for the top sport,” Jörg says. “I never had any regrets about letting them go. My job was always to find good talented young horses, produce them and sell. It’s my business, and has been so for the last twenty years. To see the horses I have had before do well in the sport is a great feeling, it makes me happy. Finding horses like Arko and Carlo, and having people know they come from me – well you don’t need big advertisements then,” Jörg laughs.

Watch Carlo with Jörg Naeve as a 6-year-old:


Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson

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