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The Next Generation: Emil Hallundbaek

Tuesday, 03 December 2019
Interview

Photo © World of Showjumping
After kicking off 2019 with a win in the four-star Grand Prix in Wellington, Emil went on to deliver consistent performances in the Global Champions League as a part of the Berlin Eagles-team. Photo © World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

2019 has been a great year for Denmark’s Emil Hallundbaek. After kicking off with a win in the four-star Grand Prix in Wellington, Emil went on to deliver consistent performances in the Global Champions League as a part of the Berlin Eagles-team. World of Showjumping met the 21-year-old at his home base in Belgium.

“When I was around 9-years-old, riding became something I did seriously every day. It was my sport, I chose riding,” Emil tells. “I enjoyed being together with the horses, I liked them. It all came naturally to me, since I grew up on a farm. We are a horse family and my sister Clara also rides. Our parents enjoy the sport, they have been horse people all their life so it is a family project.”

Emil’s career really took off when his family bought Catoki (Cambridge x Silvester) – a stallion that had been hugely successful with Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt. “Back then I was only 14-years-old – the same age as Catoki actually,” Emil recalls. “It was incredible, everything I know now I learned with him. I am going to be thankful for all my life, to have been able to learn with a horse like Catoki. He developed me as a rider. Catoki is going to stay with us – he has his new life as a breeding stallion now and he is doing really well.”

“When I turned 18, I moved out of Denmark to Belgium. I wanted to go all in, not just half way,” Emil continues. “I came here completely alone. In the beginning it was lonely, to be honest. I knew people from the shows of course, but the normal day to day routines were gone. I had to build that base again and it took a while to get settled.”

Three years down the road, and Emil now finds himself settled in Belgium. His every-day routine consists of riding six to eight horses. “Then I do a bit of cardio and physical training”, Emil tells. “In the summer that is easy, but in the winter you normally just want to go in and pass out after a day full of riding,” he laughs.

Photo © World of Showjumping.
"I am going to be thankful for all my life, to have been able to learn with a horse like Catoki. He developed me as a rider," Emil says. Photo © World of Showjumping.

This year, Chalisco (Chacco-Blue x Quidam de Revel) has been Emil’s most successful partner. “Chalisco is sharp and clever, he is always awake,” Emil says of the 12-year old gelding. “My family bought Chalisco when he was a 6-year-old and now he is 12, so we have grown together. It has been my second year now on the Global Champions League circuit, and it is incredible. The first year was a bit terrifying – you feel very small and I still am, but the second year has felt better. I have been able to relax more, and it ended up being a quite successful year. I believe that riding among the best riders in the world makes all the difference. It gives you inspiration, and just by watching you can learn a lot. I think that good riding is contagious, it affects you. I really like Christian Ahlmann, and his style of riding. Ludger Beerbaum too, also as someone who has been there for so many years and on so many different horses – you have to admire that.”

“At the moment I don’t have so many horses for the five-star level but I have a lot of younger ones,” Emil says about his horsepower. “My idea now is trying to invest in young horses. I believe that the best thing to do is to buy a 3-year-old, because at that age you can see a bit more of the horse already. However, it is not easy to get hold of the good ones! We are looking for young horses and have a system where we can develop them ourselves, and hopefully this way find my next Chalisco. My ideal horse would be one that is classical with blood. That is my type, that is what I prefer riding.”

“I love developing with the horses, educating and teaching them,” Emil tells about his motivation. “And winning. There is no better feeling than winning. Sometimes, I am perhaps a bit too competitive and I will admit to being a bad loser,” he adds with a smile. “The adrenaline kick and rush you get from winning, I think that is why I ride every day. I am not going to lie; I don’t like cold winter mornings! That is the toughest part of this sport; you need to get up and go, every day, no matter what.”

Photo © World of Showjumping "I have been able to relax more, and it ended up being a quite successful year," Emil tells about his development in 2019. Photo © World of Showjumping.

Emil also likes the business side of the sport but finds that as a rider it is hard to do both. “I will try to make a name for myself as a rider and later on in life I can perhaps think about the business side,” he smiles.   

For the past year, Emil has been training with Helena Stormanns. “Helena is unbelievable,” he says. “The basic is how the horse has to move, and how the small details make up the bigger picture. In the end it is really simple and straight forward, I like her way of saying things – she is very correct.”

When it comes to the mental side of competing, Emil believes that experience is the key. “The more you know, and the more capable you are, the easier it gets to handle your nerves. Every time you try, you learn a little bit more. When you make mistakes, you analyse them, think about them and then you try not to repeat them. Coolness comes with experience.”

Looking towards the future, Emil has a few goals set out for himself. “I have a dream of being on the first page of the FEI world ranking. Championships are also a big dream for me, as well as being on a podium of some of the biggest Grand Prix classes in the world, for sure.”

Speaking of dreams, at the moment it looks like Emil’s current world ranking might earn Denmark an individual spot for the Olympic Games in 2020. “I have to wait a month longer to know for sure,” he says. “Chalisco is an unbelievable horse and he would be ready for it. It is all about me, if I am ready or not.”

 

No reproduction without permission, copyright © World of Showjumping 

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