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That Special Bond – with Tiia Karhu: “It took me years to understand Mary Lou”

Wednesday, 19 May 2021
That Special Bond

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. "Mary Lou has her own mind and I think that is also what makes her so good in the ring. She wants to do well. What she is doing for Henrik in the ring is special – she always gives her best and some more," Tiia says about her special one. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping


 

In this part of our series ‘That Special Bond’ we speak with Henrik von Eckermann’s long-time groom Tiia Karhu. Tiia tells that the most special horse in her life took a while to get to know and really taught her to be open minded.

 

The Special One

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. "Tovek’s Mary Lou puts a smile on my face every day, and just to see her makes me happy," Tiia tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“For me that is Tovek’s Mary Lou. She puts a smile on my face every day, and just to see her makes me happy. Mary Lou was really difficult to get to know though – she is so sensitive and reactive – and it took me years to understand her. However, now she trusts me – and I her – so that makes life much easier. The most difficult with her was to understand how to be with her. She sees and hears everything around her and at shows it can be quite hectic.

Mary Lou likes to be in control, and I can let her be to a certain point. If she takes over totally, you have nothing to say though, so we have a line that she is not allowed to cross and you need to be quite clear with her on that. 

She is a lovely and kind horse with a huge heart though and she is the queen, which she knows very well. Mary Lou really likes to be with people: When you go to her box in the morning or when you pick her up from the field, she comes and kisses you."

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. "Now, when she is a bit older, she has calmed down a little. However, you still need to be awake around her as everything can happen so fast with her," Tiia says about Tovek's Mary Lou. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

"I have actually learned a lot from the years with Mary Lou. I have realized that it sometimes takes a while to get to know a horse, and that you have to be very open minded and spend a lot of time with them. Luckily in our job, when we travel so much, you have the opportunity to get to know the horses really well.

Mary Lou is quite the same at home and at shows. Now, when she is a bit older, she has calmed down a little. However, you still need to be awake around her as everything can happen so fast with her.

Mary Lou has her own mind and I think that is also what makes her so good in the ring. She wants to do well. What she is doing for Henrik in the ring is special – she always gives her best and some more.”

Missing the Most

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. "Chacanno is the kindest horse I have ever met, and he never did anything wrong – ever," Tiia says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“That is Chacanno. The whole team loved him. He is the kindest horse I have ever met, and he never did anything wrong – ever. He just wanted to please everyone. 

One of his nicknames was ‘Chicken’, since he was scared of everything. He was especially scared of things on the ground or if you put paper on his legs. Even though he was scared he would never jump on you or run away or anything like that – he just looked at it but still behaved perfectly.

Chacanno is really missed by everyone here. He had a very special way of jumping – he was always flying over the fences and could be really fast. He won a lot with Henrik.

I have seen him a couple of times at shows after he left us, and it feels good to see that he is doing so well. His groom was always really nice with us, and knew that he was one of our favourites, so we could come and see him.”

Hardest to Get to Know

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. “Peter Pan has been the most difficult one to get to know. He has some strange habits that you need to let him have so he can relax. If things don’t go his way, he can get really nervous," Tiia tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Peter Pan has been the most difficult one to get to know. He has some strange habits that you need to let him have so he can relax. If things don’t go his way, he can get really nervous.

In the lorry for example, he travels best without a window in front of him. He goes in first and he wears a Fenwick Liquid Titanium mask on his head that calms him down. He can see and hear everything, but somehow this mask really works on him. I had seen other people use this mask but was really sceptical until we tried it on Peter Pan. For longer trips we also make sure that he has hay and water at all times. He doesn’t drink when you try to water him, but when he has a bucket hanging in front of him, he will.

When it comes to his feed it all needs to be separate. You cannot mix different types of feed in the same meal; if you do, he doesn’t touch it. It took a while to figure this out.

Peter Pan loves people though and always tries to stop random persons at the shows to cuddle with. In his box, he has a lot of toys to play with. When at home, he is mostly in the field, that is his happy place – he just loves to be out.” 

 

 

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