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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Markan Cosmopolit

Wednesday, 16 November 2022
From youngster to international Grand Prix horse

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for WoSJ. "The horse owners’ behaviour is really important when it comes to whether you as a rider have success or not. If you as a rider feel stressed, the results will not be as good. With full support, it is easier to ride well,” Jens Fredricson says, thanking the supportive owners of Markan Cosmopolit. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Markan Cosmopolit (Cohiba 1198 x Calido I) jumped on to the international five-star scene last year, when doing a double clear in the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen. Since then, the 11-year-old gelding has continued to impress with his Swedish rider Jens Fredricson – most recently when taking team gold at the Agria FEI Jumping World Championship in Herning and winning the CSIO5* BMO Nations Cup at Spruce Meadows. 

Bred in Sweden by Sören Savgren, Markan Cosmopolit was bought as a 3-year-old by the Swedish National Equestrian Center in Strömsholm to become a horse their students could ride. However, it turned out he was too sensitive for the job. While it was not necessarily in the cards back then that Markan Cosmopolit one day would become team world champion, Jens Fredricson’s knowledge, patience and work has contributed towards the gelding becoming one of the world’s best horses. 

Just like all the other foals

“Cosmopolit was just like all the other foals, and I can’t say that I remember anything special about him,” his breeder Sören Savgren says with a smile. “The only thing was that he was born in the field, so when I came out one morning, he was all of a sudden standing there.”

The now 72-year-old Savgren has breeding as is his hobby and breeds two to three foals every year. He breeds from two lines; Cosmopolit’s and one line from Quattro B. “Cosmopolit’s mother Olida was bought from Switzerland after an injury put a stop to her jumping career. Insted she came to Sweden and went into breeding,” Savgren tells. “I found Olida through an ad, and she had already had a few foals. When I looked closer into it, I realized that her foals had all been sold abroad and did well. So, I bought her and got three foals out of her. Olida was very easy to handle, and it was never any problems with her. Unfortunately, after the three foals she suffered from colic and couldn’t be saved.”

Photo © Åsa Steninger Markan Cosmopolit during his time at the Swedish National Equestrian Center in Strömsholm. Here his first time hacking out, ridden by Susanna Harjalouma. Photo © Åsa Steninger.

Savgren trains a lot with his foals and makes sure they are easy to handle, handwalk and load. “However, starting up the horses as 3-year-olds is not for me at my age. When I heard about the project at the National Equestrian Center at Strömsholm, where they took in young horses to start them up and show them at the 3-year-old-tests I thought it was a good idea. However, Cosmopolit wasn’t there for long before they bought him and his half-brother.”

Savgren is full of praise and admiration for Jens Fredricson. “He saw the potential in Cosmopolit. I have huge admiration for Jens, he is really good with horses."

To see the two of them in Herning was just fantastic, and apparently Cosmopolit is the first Swedish bred horse to become world champion.

You might think that after such success, the breeder would also get some attention, but Savgren explains that it has only been a local newspaper that has followed up on it. “I wish it would be a bit like in the trotting world, where the breeder also gets rewarded,” Savgren points out. 

Extremely nice

When Markan Cosmopolit arrived at the National Equestrian Center in Strömsholm, Åsa Steninger was in charge. “I worked with the students that were there to learn how to start up and educate the young horses. At that time, we had a two-year project where we accepted horses from breeders to start them up and Cosmo was one of the horses that was part of this project,” Steninger tells. 

“Cosmo was extremely nice and easy to start-up. His canter was amazing, already from the first time he cantered with a rider he was uphill and had a great balance. He was just fantastic in every way, learned quickly, was easy to handle and very sweet,” Steninger says. 

We liked Cosmo already from the beginning and it didn’t take long before we bought him.

“Cosmo was extremely nice and easy to start-up. His canter was amazing, already from the first time he cantered with a rider he was uphill and had a great balance. He was just fantastic in every way, learned quickly, was easy to handle and very sweet,” Steninger tells. 

Photo © Åsa Steninger. Markan Cosmopolit at his 3-year-old test. Sofie Viklund showed him and Sara Näslund was with to assist. Photo © Åsa Steninger.

“It was Susanna Harjalouma that started him up and the plan was that she would show him at the 3-year-old test. However, right before the test, Cosmo got a cold, so we had to postpone. By then, Susanna had already finished school and started her new job so Sofie Viklund showed him. At the test Cosmo got a score of 9 for his canter, for his capacity and for the way he jumped.”

“I always had that special feeling with Cosmo and had big hopes for him, even though I didn’t really see the World Championships coming,” Steninger laughs. 

Too sensitive

When Cosmo was five, Jens Fredricson rode the gelding for a short period to do the Breeders’ Young Horse Indoor Championship at Flyinge. “I thought he was a bit lanky, and he was very sensitive to sounds,” Fredricson tells about his first impression. 

He had a huge canter, landed far behind the fences and was a bit difficult to control. He had a lot of power in his jump, but ran away in the landing.

"To handle, he was the loveliest horse though, so kind. After that short period, Caroline Bore rode him to the summer when he was six.”

In the end, Cosmo was too sensitive to be a school horse, so Strömsholm’s Marketenteri ’Markan’ – a Bed & Breakfast and restaurant close to the school – bought him. “Then I started to ride him again,” Fredricson says. “I can’t say that I always believed in him, but he surprised me positively for every new step we made. He also shows way better than he trains.” 

“As a 7- and 8-year-old, Cosmo often got one or two faults at the end of the course – he got tired. So, during the winter, I started to ride him two times a day with a lot of dressage work where I took help from Kyra Kyrklund. This was really good for his strength and with this his jumping curve improved – he started to get his highest point over the fence and not behind it. I also got a lot of help from Kaiser Johansmann when jumping,” Fredricson tells about the work put into the gelding. 

Today, Cosmo is a brave horse when it comes to jumping, but this is something that he has developed over time. “He was not always brave. When he was young, he was so tense and could stop or run past the fences. He is still very awake though, and if he sees a bird 100 meters away when doing flat work, he reacts, but toward fences he is now very brave,” Fredricson tells.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for WoSJ. “Cosmo is very weak in his mouth, and it made a big difference in his jumping when I changed the way of holding the reins,” Fredricson explains. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

If you have seen Fredricson competing Cosmopolit, you might have noticed that the Swedish rider holds the reins the Mexican way. “Cosmo is very weak in his mouth, and it made a big difference in his jumping when I changed the way of holding the reins. He gets his nose more in front and gives a better connection to the bit. When riding dressage I hold the reins the traditional way, but when jumping I change to the Mexican way,” Fredricson explains.

After Herning, Cosmopolit got a well-deserved break spent in the field and will now focus on the World Cup season. The next big goal is the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. “Of course, a lot can happen before that. However, I have fantastic horse owners in Ing-Britt Stefanussen and Bo Sund. They are so supporting, also when it doesn’t go well, and they have had a lot of patience. The horse owners’ behaviour is really important when it comes to whether you as a rider have success or not. If you as a rider feel stressed, the results will not be as good. With full support, it is easier to ride well,” Fredricson says. 

Truly fantastic

Ing-Britt Stefanussen, one of the owners of Markan Cosmopolit, has always been involved with horses and has been riding herself. “We are a horse crazy family that love this fantastic sport. We had been talking about owning a jumping horse for long when we got the tip that the school would sell Cosmopolit. He had charisma, nice eyes and we got hooked.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for WoSJ. "The two of them are really a team, and Jens’s wife Isabelle and his groom Alice also play an important part in his success – they all work together and make his results possible.” Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

For the owners, it was obvious that Jens – that they had known for years – was the right rider. “Jens is very professional and has huge knowledge. He has been very open to Cosmo’s signals and worked with that. We knew that Cosmo had potential, but we never thought he would get this good," Stefanussen says.

It is all thanks to Jens that he turned out as good as he did.

"The two of them are really a team, and Jens’s wife Isabelle and his groom Alice also play an important part in his success – they all work together and make his results possible.”

“We really enjoy being horse owners and are delighted with the results. What we have been a part of is truly fantastic,” Stefanussen says.

 

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