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One owner, two horses, three medals – Charlotte Söderström’s Olympic success in Tokyo

Tuesday, 24 August 2021
Interview

Photo © Haide Westring for World of Showjumping World of Showjumping speaks with Charlotte Söderström, who owns some of Sweden's very best jumping horses. Photo © Haide Westring for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Many owners dream about their horses competing at the Olympic Games, and even potentially winning a medal. For Charlotte Söderström this is no longer just a dream, it is reality, and it has come in the form of not one, but four Olympic medals. At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, H&M All in – ridden by Peder Fredricson – first repeated his individual silver medal from the Olympics in Rio, and then finished off the week with a team gold medal for Sweden. On the same gold winning team was Söderström’s horse H&M Indiana – ridden by Malin Baryard-Johnsson, who also finished fifth individually. 

This is more than I ever could have dreamed of.

Although they are well connected, Söderström’s horses H&M All In and H&M Indiana have two totally different stories. 

“All In was a long-term investment,” Söderström tells. “We were looking for a good young horse with the potential to go all the way. Peder tried a lot of horses at that time, and then he spotted All In at the World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken in 2013 with Nicola Philippaerts. Peder managed to get a try-out and got really enthusiastic so the day after I flew to Belgium for the second trial. When we arrived at Philippaerts’ yard, two horses were waiting in the aisle and even though Peder had told me that All In was kind of small I got a shock when I understood it was the pony standing in front of me that we were there for."

 My first reaction was that All In was way too small, and that Peder never could ride him. However, as soon as Peder sat on him, All In turned in to another horse.

“We bought All In for the sport and he was never for sale,” Söderström tells. “When he arrived at Peder’s yard we realized that he was more complicated than we thought he would be, though. He had some stomach issues, some muscle issues, a very strong flight instinct and was super sensitive. Peder has done an amazing job, both with All In’s mental side and with the physical part.” 

Throughout his career, All In has had his share of health issues – but thanks to Peder’s management these have largely been overcome and the gelding competed both at the Rio and the Tokyo Olympics. It’s not been a straight-forward journey though, Söderström reveals.

All In’s talent is unique, and so is he as an individual – turning every stone to find solutions to his problems has been worth it.

“I couldn’t really see the Olympics in Tokyo happening for him before he was actually there – he was out for a long time ahead of the Games due to an injury but he came back just in time. For me it has been very emotional to see All In back at the Olympics and that he ended up with gold after his two silver medals. All In was so worth it – he really deserved those medals!”

What All In has achieved, is way more than we ever could have dreamt of. What he has done for Swedish equestrian is like a dream, and I’m so happy to be a part of this.

Söderström’s mare Indiana was also a long-term investment, but not in any way similar to the purchase of All In. 

“I found Indiana in Arezzo when I was watching the young horses there competing,” Söderström tells. “I was almost half a sleep after watching so many, but woke up straight away when Indiana started to jump. After taking a look at her pedigree, I realized it was very similar to All In’s. They are both by Kashmir van Schuttershof and while All In has Andiamo Z x Animo on the mother line, Indiana has Animo’s Hallo x Animo. And on top of that she is a mare, so I almost panicked in my eager to get her." 

It was like finding a bigger version of All In.

“From there, everything went fast. I bought her without trying her and without having a proper plan for her. My main goal was to secure the pedigree. Then I started to speak with Malin, who was also in Arezzo, and she said she would be happy to take Indiana home and see how it would develop,” Söderström tells.

“Indiana has been anything but easy,” Söderström tells. “She was big, strong and wild. We have always seen her capacity and power, but the rideability has been very questionable. Malin has done a tremendous job with her and I don’t think Indiana would have become as good if she would have come to a rider that had put her in a frame and tried to control her."

Malin has let Indiana be her crazy-self and they really fight together – they are a power couple!

The Swedish team dominated the Olympic Games in Tokyo and impressed everyone watching, and Söderström credits individual horse management as a key factor in the success. “I have no knowledge on how Henrik has prepared for the Olympics, but with Malin and Peder everything they have done has been with the Olympics in mind,” Söderström says. “They are both great horse people and they really adapt to the personalities of each horse. Nothing they do is static; everything is individually done for each horse. Peder took the shoes of All In, since he is more comfortable without and has twisted and turned things around to make him as fit and healthy as possible. Then it is of course also about not overdoing things.”

The grooms are also to thank; they turn inside and out to make everything perfect for the horses and their well-being.

As an owner, and for H&M that sponsors the riders, horsemanship is very important – Söderström tells. “Malin and Peder are role models and they really care about the horses and let them be horses. It is important for us that the horses’ well-being is the main priority, like for example All In going in the field all day long together with Alexander Zetterman’s previous star Flecu.”

Over the years, offers on her horses have been many, but without hesitation Söderström explains that they have all been turned down. “All In and Indiana will stay. I know I’m very lucky to be in a position where I can keep the horses. These horses mean so much for so many – not just for me and my family and the team around them, but also for Sweden. Horses like them, that give Sweden this success, creates a ripple-effect and this will change a lot for many Swedish riders in the future. New sponsors will join the sport and new possibilities will be made.”

As a horse owner, Söderström loves the thrill of the competitions. “I love the sport and have been competing myself. To go to shows and feel the pulse, to just be a part of it is super exciting. It gives me so much and I truly love it,” she smiles.

Sometimes I’m sitting at home with three computer screens ahead of me – with a timer for each ride – following my horses competing. I hardly ever miss a round that any of my horses jump.

Söderström does not only own some of the biggest stars in the sport, she also runs Stuteri Arch together with her mother Pam Persson, where they breed and bring up young horses. “I’m always looking for young horses and have a great rider in Filip Ågren. He educates the horses and if some of them turn out to be super stars, they will then move along to one of the H&M riders. Malin is now trying one of our 8-year-olds called Reventon and Peder will soon try out an 8-year-old named Diamantino. Then it continues like this. I am not really good at selling horses, so when I do sell it must feel 100% right with the person that is buying.”

It was at Stuteri Arch that Söderström and her whole team sat watching the excitement in Tokyo. “After the first day, I was thrilled that everyone qualified for the individual final, and it felt like whatever would come after that would just be a bonus. And so it went day after day. You never dare to think about the medals and certainly don’t dare to be greedy,” she says.

During the team final, it was hard to sit back and live through another nerve-wracking jump-off. 

"The Swedish team were so close; I had already tasted the gold,” Söderström tells. “Furthermore, I felt so sorry for both Malin and Henrik when they ended the individual final just outside the podium – so it was fantastic that they all got their well-deserved gold medal in the end.”

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping



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