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Henrik von Eckermann and Janika Sprunger: On good times, gratefulness and gut feeling – part three

Friday, 22 March 2019

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson The beginning of a great year! Henrik von Eckermann and Janika Sprunger, at their home base close to Bonn, Germany. Photos © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

When World of Showjumping meets Henrik von Eckermann and Janika Sprunger, the couple greets us with a big smile on their faces. No wonder, as they come fresh from a ski holiday in Austria where Henrik went down on one knee in the snow and got a yes from the girl of his dreams – who now wears a big, beautiful, sparkling diamond on her ring finger. While the wedding plans are at the very earliest stage, it is safe to say that Henrik and Janika have one exciting year ahead of them – not only on the personal front. Janika, having sold her best horse Bacardi VDL in February, has the challenge to re-group and build up a new string of top mounts while Henrik is ready to face his competitors in April’s Longines FEI World Cup Final on home soil in Sweden coming fresh from his Rolex Grand Slam victory in Den Bosch. 

Here is the third and last part of the article. 

Part Three – Henrik and Janika

“You have to do what you feel, make sure to have no regrets,” Henrik says about how the two jumped in it together. 

“I agree,” Janika says. “I always followed what I felt.”

“In the future we will see, maybe we join forces in business too – but that is further down the road,” Janika says. “The next step for us would be owning horses together, investing, producing and selling them ourselves. We both have a strong family background, and value that a lot so it would only be natural that we end up doing it together.”

They are already well underway. “Recently, we added the 6-year-old Cadence to our team,” Janika explains about one of their first joint investments. 

Sport wise, both riders are now focused on building up strong strings of horses for the future. “Mary Lou pulls the whole stables forward, and while I have a few 9-year-olds coming through they are not ready to follow her,” Henrik tells. “Because of my current world ranking I can go anywhere I want to at the moment, but I have to watch out – I cannot, I’ll burn the candle from both ends then. So, I have to spend time on building up a new army under Mary Lou to help her out – because at this moment, if she’s gone, I’m gone too. I also need good horses to sell. No one wants to buy your 5th horse kind of. There is definitely a balance to find between the business and the sport,” Henrik tells. 

While the two might come from different backgrounds, Henrik a son of hobby riders, Janika the daughter of professionals – they have both been taught the same values in their horse management, which are firmly imprinted in both of them. 

“The sport is so much more than riding,” Henrik says. “If you can’t take care of the horses and have the feeling for them, they will go broken. You can put as many millions as you want into horses but ultimately it will not last if you don’t manage them properly and give them the right care.”

“You see it again and again. People use lots of money on horses and training for somebody famous, but it takes more than that. You need to be interested in what others are doing, you need to look at them. I learned so much from just looking at Ludger, Philipp or Marco. You have to be hungry for that, not just being fed in from someone else what to do and what not to do,” Henrik continues. 

“You develop from your own interest,” Janika says. “Obviously you have to work hard and be patient, but it’s not only about hard work – also about how you work and with who you work. The importance of being open-minded and learning from others – I cannot underline that enough.”  

When it comes to the future of the sport, Henrik points out the importance of keeping it open. “The sport is growing in a fantastic way. Now it’s up to all of us that are in it to keep up with it and find a good balance,” he says. “I’m a farmer boy, and still managed to get there any way,” Henrik says about reaching the top. “I would like to see that being possible for others too, I would like to keep that as a goal for the sport. I wish everybody can have the chance I had, if they work hard enough.”


Text © World of Showjumping 

Photos © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson

No reproduction without permission, copyright © World of Showjumping

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