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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Catch Me Not S – “To feel how fantastic he is, you have to sit on him”

Tuesday, 03 May 2022
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © Haide Westring "I went home and cried for 14 days before I brought him for Peder to ride," Catch Me Not S' owner and former rider Ebba Berglöf tells about partnering the gelding with Fredricson. Photo © Haide Westring.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

The now 16-year-old gelding Catch Me Not S (Cardento x Ramiro’s Son) has jumped into many hearts with his special style. Together with Peder Fredricson, Catch Me Not S had a fantastic 2021-season with big victories in London, Stockholm, St. Tropez and Mannheim, as well as taking the individual bronze medal at the Longines FEI European Championships in Riesenbeck. It was not many that believed in the grey gelding as a youngster though, but his owner Ebba Berglöf proved them all wrong with her never-ending faith in Catch Me Not S. 

Catch Me Not S didn’t get his name by coincidence; when Ebba Berglöf bought him as foal, he really couldn’t be caught. “I really wanted to have a foal by Cardento so I tried to buy one at the auction at Flyinge. That one got too expensive though, but I realized that my neighbour Krister Svedberg had one by Cardento so I called him up. When I bought Catch Me Not S – or Charlie as he is called – I got his mother as well and when we were there to pick them up, they were both wild, really wild. In the end we managed to get a halter on Charlie to get him on the truck, but we couldn’t get it off for the next three months. We just couldn’t catch him and that is how he got his name. The S is from his breeder’s surname Svedberg,” Ebba explains.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for WoSJ. "We just couldn’t catch him and that is how he got his name," Ebba says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Charlie’s mother Ralmea, that had competed internationally herself, was in foal with Quite Easy when Ebba bought her. “Unfortunately, she got twins way too early and none of them survived," Ebba tells. "After that I had a difficult time getting Ralmea in foal again. She was so stressed. However, after a few years, it worked out and I got a filly out of her. That was the only foal she got at my place, she was 23 at the time. Ralmea’s daughter Medea by Norman pre Noir got several foals though and they can all jump, no matter what stallion we used. Her offspring all inherited her jump and nerve.”

Not an obvious sale

Krister Svedberg, Catch Me Not S’ breeder, confirms that the gelding had a lot of nerve already as a foal. “Catch Me Not S was a nice and proper foal, but also very sensitive and had a strong flight instinct. His mother Ralmea was really bloody, so he got that from her. The mare had competed internationally before I bought her from Germany,” Krister explains. 

Svedberg himself breeds in a large scale in Sweden, with several foals every year. “It was not obvious to sell Charlie, and he was not the foal I would have chosen to sell, but Ebba paid good money for him and I don’t regret selling him. When Charlie was one year old we had free jumping classes at our place, which Ebba joined, and already then you could see that he had capacity.” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for WoSJ. “It is fantastic to have bred a horse that ended up with a rider like Peder, who can take care of such a sensitive horse," Krister says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“It is fantastic to have bred a horse that ended up with a rider like Peder, who can take care of such a sensitive horse. I have been breeding for many years and as you know it comes with a lot of hard work. With Charlie and other Grand Prix horses that I bred, my life as a breeder got easier though. There are several people calling to ask what youngsters I have at home and the last years we haven’t had any problems to sell the horses we wanted to sell.” 

“At the moment we are cutting down though. We have moved to a smaller yard and will not breed as much as before. Last year we didn’t cover any mares, but this year we will,” Krister says.

Holding his breath

“When Charlie was old enough, I made him ready to be ridden,” Ebba says. “He was really difficult to get on! He was so scared, so I spent a lot of time to manage to get up on his back. Charlie got the time he needed, and I never stressed with him. Eventually we did the 3-year-old test and the free jumping started off really well, until one person moved on the stands and he jumped out of the barriers. He always had a very strong flight instinct.”

In the autumn when Charlie was four, Ebba thought they were ready to do their first show – jumping an 80cm class at Flyinge. 

It was outside in their grass arena and I hardly managed to enter the ring. When I did, Charlie totally froze. 

"I got him into trot – canter was impossible – so I trotted towards the first fence and he jumped as high as he could straight up and straight down, touching the back-pole on the small oxer in the landing and froze again. I had to jump off and walk him out of the arena,” Ebba says laughing when looking back at their debut. “This behaviour continued through his fifth year whenever we left home – he jumped really high, landed on all four legs and was really tense. When he left the ring, he was so out of breath, as he didn’t breath while in there.”

Charlie always gave Ebba a fantastic feeling at home though, so at the age of four, Ebba brought him to Peder and Lisen’s Grevlunda Stables for them to try him. “They tried him for two weeks, but they told me he was not a horse for them.”

No pressure, and no shortcuts

Photo © Roland Thunholm. “We never pushed Charlie to compete in the youngster classes, so he never did any national or international championships for young horses at the age of 4, 5, 6 or 7, which seems to be a must among many riders nowadays. I only focused on letting him jump at the level that was right for him,” Ebba tells. Photo © Roland Thunholm.

Charlie got a proper education from Ebba, who is a previous eventing rider. “Through the eventing, I have learned how to do the basic work with a horse. We always hacked out a lot, made sure he got versatile training and that he had fun. I never put pressure on him and never tried to take any shortcuts."

As a young horse he was a handful to hack out on though, since he was jumping from side to side depending on what he saw. I went hacking with him anyway, and I think that has shaped him to the horse he is now.

"I think he needed to see and experience all the things happening in the forest to be able to grow as a competition horse,” Ebba says. 

“We never pushed Charlie to compete in the youngster classes, so he never did any national or international championships for young horses at the age of 4, 5, 6 or 7, which seems to be a must among many riders nowadays. I only focused on letting him jump at the level that was right for him,” Ebba tells. 

“When Charlie was six and we competed at 1.30m level, I told Peder that he had to try him again because I thought he was magical. So Peder came to us and Charlie jumped well, but Peder called the day after and said no again."

Third time’s a charm

With help from the trainers Leif Nilsson and Sylve Söderstrand, Ebba and Charlie developed and continued to compete. “It was never straight-forward with Charlie, but in the end, we jumped 1.50m classes and the bigger it got the better it went. The only thing was that Charlie got really stressed when he had to stay over at the show ground. He would stop eating and drinking and lost a lot of weight when at shows. I had a dressage horse that Charlie was in the field with at home, so I brought him along to the shows just as company. Charlie always had a lot of nerve – which he got from his mother – but has been getting calmer the older he has gotten.”

“When Charlie was 12, I went to the big national show in Borås, Sweden with him,” Ebba says. “I went there alone, it was a lot of snow, very slippery and I was a bit late for the first class. I just had a quick look at the course, jumped a few fences in the warm-up and went in – to get a total blackout. Peder, who was next to go, helped me to find the next jump. The weekend continued and Charlie jumped great, so shortly after Peder gave me a call and asked if he could try him again. My first reaction was ‘No, you already tried him so many times’. However, in March I went to Grevlunda for Peder to try and expected it to be the same story as on previous occasions.” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for WoSJ. "The last time I tried him, the feeling convinced me,” Peder says about Catch Me Not S. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Peder first tried Charlie in the indoor and he didn’t jump as well as he can. He wasn’t as on when jumping at home; at shows it was a different story. Anyhow, Peder wanted to make a few jumps outside and there was a triple combination at 1.50m. Charlie jumped easily through the combination and I could see on Peder’s face that he then felt what I had been feeling all those years. When he was done, Peder asked if he could keep him. I really couldn’t leave him there – I had bought a new truck for him, after driving around in a really shabby one for years, I was on a good way with my own jumping career and Charlie was my treasure – so I needed to think about it. I went home and cried for 14 days before I brought him for Peder to ride,” Ebba tells. 

No serious interest

Life as a horse owner is not quite as Ebba expected. “You might think it is glamorous to travel to shows as a horse owner, but it really isn’t. You can be happy if you find a seat on the rider’s tribune to actually watch your horse compete. It has been very interesting to see this side of the sport. On the other hand, it is of course fantastic to see him do so well and it is nice that he wins so much money when there are several other horses in the stable to feed,” Ebba says.

The willingness to sell Charlie has changed from year to year. “Charlie was definitely not for sale when I brought him to Peder,” Ebba explains. “Later on, I said that if someone asks about him, we can take it from there."

However, there hasn’t been any serious interest in him at all.

"Charlie is not totally easy, has a bit special technique and is not that commercial. To feel how fantastic he is, you have to sit on him," Ebba says. "If I could have sold him as a six-year-old, I would have done that. However, no one believed in him at all at that time. I always did though, because of the feeling he gave me and because of his extremely big heart.” 

Retirement planned

“Charlie is 16-years-old now and will not compete as much as last year. The season is still very insecure with the Covid-19 pandemic, so we just have to wait and see when he will start. He had a long season last year though, so first he enjoyed a longer show break during the winter,” Ebba tells.

With Charlie being 16, the plan for his retirement is already set. “When Charlie retires from the big sport, he will come back to me and I will compete him a bit at 1.40m level. When he is too old for that, he will move out to our open stable and raise our young horses, which I think he will enjoy. He is still very sound and fresh though, so it might take a little before he comes back to me.” 

Charlie is just a very special horse; he is fantastic to handle, very intelligent, loves to cuddle and has a heart of gold.

"At home he is a real sweetheart and I do look forward to getting him back, when the time comes,” Ebba closes off.

Brave and powerful with a lot of integrity

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for WoSJ. "Charlie had a fantastic year in 2021, and won two LGCT Grand Prix classes and took the individual bronze medal at the Longines FEI European Championships in Riesenbeck," Peder says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

In in the end, it was the feeling that convinced Peder Fredricson about Catch Me Not S. “When Charlie was here as a four-year-old, I didn’t ride him myself,” Peder explains. “And when he was six and I was at Ebba’s to try him, I really liked the feeling he gave me. However, after looking at the videos from the try-out I was really not sure about his technique and decided against him. The last time I tried him, the feeling convinced me,” Peder says. “Charlie has a fantastic capacity and a great mind."

On one hand he is very brave and powerful and on the other he has a lot of integrity.

"He doesn’t like veterinarians or when we do blood tests, do his teeth or clip him. At home, he might not be that motivated but when coming to the shows he gets very bloody – in a good way.”

“Charlie had a fantastic year in 2021, and won two LGCT Grand Prix classes and took the individual bronze medal at the Longines FEI European Championships in Riesenbeck. He is 16 now though, so we take one show at the time,” Peder closes off.

 

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