World of Showjumping
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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Cornet 39

Tuesday, 07 November 2017
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo (c) Alice Bjerke. Cornet 39: First successful with Irma Karlsson, then with Lauren Hough and now with Daniel Deusser. Photo (c) Alice Bjerke.

Everybody who sees him, seems to fall in love with him: We’re of course speaking about the eye-catching Cornet 39. Jumping to World Cup-fame in Oslo with Daniel Deusser in the saddle, the 13-year-old gelding by Cornet Obolensky has established himself as one of the true super-stars on the international showjumping circuit. What was this little rubber-ball like as a youngster though? Was he always set for stardom? World of Showjumping asks Swedish rider Irma Karlsson, who bought Cornet 39 as a 7-year-old and brought him up to international Grand Prix level – before he was sold.

“I found Cornet when I went to Germany to try horses back in 2011,” Irma tells.  “I tried quite a lot in two days, but he stood out. Actually, he was not exactly what I was looking for: I wanted a horse that had done a few 1.35 and 1.40m classes already, and that could move on to jump a bit bigger. Cornet was seven at the time, had done only a few shows but did not have a lot of clear rounds and had not jumped bigger than 1.30m classes.”

“When I tried him, I only jumped him over three fences – there was no combination, no water jump. Regardless of that, he gave me a really special feeling and of course he looked super cool. In the end, I decided to buy him.” Irma says.

“I started very slow with him. Cornet was inexperienced and quite green, and in the beginning also a bit unrideable. He did not have the best mouth, and was throwing his head a bit up and down which did not make it so easy to ride him. When jumping, he would sometimes go really high behind and then kicked out and bucked after the jump – so it was quite difficult to sit on him. Cornet was also a very sensitive horse, so all in all he was a challenge in the beginning and sometimes he would almost make me a bit afraid. He was a real Cornet Obolensky-offspring, with a lot of character!” Irma laughs.

“After a while, I moved to Douglas Lindelöw’s yard and started training for his mother Agnetha. From there on the whole system around Cornet and me got a lot more professional, which really helped our development,” Irma says. “In 2013, I jumped my first 1.50 classes with Cornet and also my first Europeans – but still we were not sure if he had it in him to jump the really big classes. He gave a great feeling over the fence, but sometimes he just would go too high and still kick out – and I think from the ground it was difficult to see if he had the very last scope. At this point, he also still lacked experience over the bigger tracks.”

Photo (c) Haide Westring "I liked Cornet so much and I really wanted him to be the best and my feeling told me he could be,” Irma Karlsson says about Cornet 39. Photo (c) Haide Westring.

“I don’t think it was a defining moment where I thought, ‘Oh, this will be a special horse’. It was just from that first time I tried him that I thought ‘This is the horse I want’. It was also a process and a journey with him. Sometimes we just thought he jumped too much and was too careful,” Irma recalls. “However, I liked Cornet so much and I really wanted him to be the best and my feeling told me he could be.”

“Cornet was special in many ways, not just to ride. In the stable and to handle, he was a bit like a mare – if he was a human he would definitely not be a guy’s guy. He could be a bit dramatic, and would get easily frustrated – if tied up or when being clipped on the hind legs for example. In a way, he was a bit too sensitive for a gelding.”

“In 2014, I won my first international Grand Prix with him – the CSIO3* Grand Prix of Sopot. That was our breakthrough year, we also were good at the Swedish Championships and in a big national Grand Prix in Sweden,” Irma tells.

“When I was selected for the European Championships for young riders that year, I put a lot of pressure on myself. Before I went there, my trainer Agnetha said that going there meant we should also know that we would be good enough for a medal. After our results, I knew that if I would ride good I would have a chance of a medal with him – that made me quite nervous. I wanted to do everything right, so I brought my own vet, a really good groom, a mental coach and of course Agnetha – the whole package. This way I had no excuse to not do well, but I have to say in the end it almost made me even more anxious to produce good results,” Irma laughs. “Going into the final, I was sitting in silver medal position. That made me feel better than being in the lead, it’s less pressure when you come from behind like that. On the last day of the Europeans, Cornet was however really tired – his eyes were almost crossing. He touched twice in the warm-up even, something he normally would never do. Still, he went in and jumped clear. I remember so well; the last line was really special – but he just did it. When the leader went into the ring and had one down, everybody around me were either screaming or crying – I was more in shock I think. It was a cool moment, my best memory with Cornet!” Irma tells.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The beautiful Cornet 39. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“Already before the Europeans I had made up my mind that I would sell Cornet after. There was a lot of interest in him, and I needed the money to make it all go around – I could simply not afford to say no to the offers. Agnetha and Douglas had clients that wanted to try him, and he was sold straight away to Paris Sellon – I don’t think you have to show a horse like that to many people,” Irma tells.

“It’s been amazing to follow his career with Lauren (Hough), and now Daniel. I think Daniel is one of the best riders in the whole world, and he gives Cornet all the opportunities to be his best – also with the whole support system around him. Everything is just so professional. When they won the World Cup in Oslo, I just got so happy – I was in the car, and almost drove off the road!” Irma laughs.

“I actually did not see Cornet since he was sold. However, a friend of mine was in Oslo and put up a Facetime with Cornet for me! When Cornet was with me he learned to kiss on the mouth, so there was a lot of that going on during our online conversation. I hope I’ll see him soon again, that would be fantastic!” Irma closes off.


Text © World of Showjumping by Jannicke Naustdal // Pictures © Alice Bjerke/Haide Westring/Jenny Abrahamsson


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