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Lessons Learned: With Peder Fredricson and Stephanie Holmén

Tuesday, 09 January 2018
Lessons Learned
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Photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Stephanie Holmén, here with H&M Flip's Little Sparrow, shares some of the most important things she has learned from Peder Fredricson. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

For the past four years, 26-year-old Stephanie Holmén has worked at Grevlunda Stables in the south of Sweden. And yes, that is where Peder Fredricson, current European Champion, lives and works too. It was Peder’s wife Lisen that originally asked Stephanie to join their team. “I think the decision to accept the offer Lisen made me, was the best I have ever made in my life,” Stephanie says.

World of Showjumping sat down with Peder and Stephanie to hear more about the lessons the duo has learned along their journey together.

Cherish the talent

“First of all, I think it is important to make sure Stephanie rides from her potential,” Peder starts to explain. “I am not trying to change her to ride like I do. But at the same time, I try to see where she could develop,” he tells. “If I see something I think that could improve in her system, I try to teach her that – but without changing her. Some parts she does better than I do! And obviously on those parts she needs no training. I try to talk to her only about the things I think can be improved.”

“This is especially because she is a girl and I am a man – and I am much taller than her also. So, she cannot copy the way I am riding and I think that is very important to understand. What I also think is important is for her to get into the system; learn how to check the horses, think about the feeding, to be aware of how important the shoeing is – all these things. These factors are super important for success, and hopefully she can learn from the system we have in our stable.”

”Everything” is Stephanie’s answer when we ask her what she has learned from Peder and Lisen. “I have learned that I must be very precise in my riding,” she says, adding “all the time!”

“There is still a long way to go, but I am learning and I can see every year how much I have improved.”

“At the moment Peder is showing a lot, but when he is at home we ride together and he always wants me to improve. If I am at a show and he is not there, I always send my videos to him and Lisen and they respond with feedback.”

The way forward

“I think she is really talented,” Peder says about Stephanie. “She is also extremely hard working, competitive and a good team player. I believe those are good ingredients for success.”

Recently, Peder gave Stephanie the ride on H&M Flip’s Little Sparrow, so that she would be able to move up into the biggest classes. “I think that is going to make the change for her; as a rider on the highest level, the challenge is different. You have to be able to build up a team with horses, horse owners, sponsors, trucks – you need to make sure the business runs, but still be able to focus on the sport,” he explains.

(c) Jenny Abrahamsson
“We stick to the basics," says Stephanie about her training with Peder.

“While I have been running the business, she has worked hard on producing the young horses. Now she has a horse to go and show on the higher level as well and see another aspect of the sport. I think that is the key all the top riders have to access. Of course, you need to ride well, but you also need to create opportunities on getting the right horses in and to create the best way of looking after them and keeping them sound.”

“I have not done many five-star shows so far, but I know that this level is where I want to be,” Stephanie fills in. “Before I was not so competitive, but now I want to go in and win. I think that was one of my weaknesses before – that I could be happy with an OK result. Now, I am trying to be more competitive all the time. I am very grateful for Peder and Lisen for the time and support they have given me – not only for helping me do a better job with their horses, but that they also want me to be successful as an international rider.”

If it works, don’t mend it

“I mainly try to improve her flatwork, to get the horses work relaxed and well through their body,” Peder continues. “We have been working on that for a long time. She has a really good eye and I try to not change too much in her riding. Normally, if she feels something is not working, she comes to me and asks for my opinion and then we work on that. I also sometimes ask her for help! It is a give and take, I think,” he says.

“We stick to the basics, and practise the things you need when you go into the ring,” Stephanie says. “I try to always work with the horses and not against them. I think the horses like the fact that I am soft and balanced in my riding. What I really want to improve, is to learn to ride more from my leg,” Stephanie says.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
“Before I was not so competitive, but now I want to go in and win," Stephanie says. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“We ride a lot outside, we have a track in the woods with good footing so we can flatwork the horses there,” Stephanie continues.

“The footing on the track is good, and it goes up and down so it is different to riding in a ring. Since the track is out in the forest, the horses really enjoy going there,” Peder fills in. “Sometimes I warm up on the track, or if the horses have an easy day I just trot and canter them around. You can choose your path around it, some of them are steeper and there are also circles to give variation. It is all safe, since the track is close to our stables,” he explains. “Also, I really enjoy riding there! It is nice to be able to be on my own, just with the horse. I built the track last year and I think it is a super way to train horses, a nice compliment to the indoor and outdoor rings.”

The fitness

“I think it gets more important when you get older, obviously,” Peder says about his own fitness routines. “I do 30 minutes every day. I think for Stephanie, she is fit and young enough to not have any issues. She knows what I am doing, and I think sooner or later she will end up doing the same herself,” he smiles.

“I don’t do so much, because I work all day and ride so many horses – I have no time or energy, even though I wish I had time for it,” Stephanie says.

The mental game

“I think she is very strong mentally,” Peder says. “I think she is like she is, it is her personality. I train her a bit like I try to train horses; if you get a good horse in, you should just try to guide them to do their job as good as possible. You should not try to change them. When you change something, you also change the positive things.”

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
“I admire the way Peder can go in his bubble and stay focused when he needs to,” Stephanie says about her boss.

Feeling safe is the key to being calm to Stephanie. “When I started to work for Peder, I found some old notebooks in the truck and read some things he had written down,” she tells. “Sometimes I think back on those notes, they do make sense. I think for some people mental strength maybe comes more naturally than to others. So far I have not been in the toughest situations – like in the final of the European Championships, where Peder was – but when I want to stay focused, I have managed to do so.”

Where did she get her mental power, we wonder? “I think it all comes down to the fact that growing up, I always had good trainers. I trained ten years with Ann-Catrin Carlsson. I think she was not just a coach for my riding, she felt like a mental coach as well. Not because she said anything really special, but she somehow just gave me so much confidence. I think it is all mostly because of her.”

“I admire the way Peder can go in his bubble and stay focused when he needs to,” Stephanie says about her boss. The creative painter and tree-planting father of three seems like another person to Stephanie when she sees him really focused in the ring: “In a way, that focus does not fit his personality, I think. It is amazing how he can switch to that mode.”

“For myself, I try to make sure I am well prepared, that the horses are ready and that I feel comfortable,” she explains. “When I go into the ring, I have to believe in myself and my horse and trust that everything is going to be ok.


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen // Pictures © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson

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