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The Next Generation: Laura Klaphake

Tuesday, 22 August 2017
The Next Generation

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Laura Klaphake and Catch Me If You Can. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

2017 has definitely been Laura Klaphake’s breakthrough year. The 23-year-old jumped to her first ever top-five-finish in a five-star Grand Prix in Hamburg back in May, and now she is on her way to represent Germany at the European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

However, this is far from a championship debut for the young talent as she has been competing at eight Europeans already – for ponies, juniors and young riders. “But to be among the seniors, is something totally different,” Laura says and continues with a laugh: “A friend of mine wanted to do a bet when we were in Hamburg, he said I would go to Gothenburg and since I never ever believed I would I was happy to bet against him. Now I owe him 100 Euros…”

Laura will travel to the European Championships with the 9-year-old Catch Me If You Can (Catoki x Acordplus), a mare that she has been riding since she was six. “Catch Me always wanted to do everything right, she is very ambitious and very sweet. When she was six, I thought she was a great young horse – but I didn’t know if she really would be good enough for the biggest sport. But the last couple of years, she made a huge step up. Catch Me always want to learn. If she makes a fault, it is very rare that she would make the same mistake a second time. Now she is fighting so much for me in the ring, it is a true pleasure to ride in to the arena every time with her.”

Catch Me, as is the mare’s stable name, belongs to Paul Schockemöhle – which actually is the case for all the horses that Laura rides. The possibility has come through Laura’s father Joseph Klaphake, who has been working for Schockemöhle for almost 30 years. “I have had horses from Paul to ride since I went from ponies to horses. I’m based at Stall Schockemöhle in Mühlen, but I’m not employed. I’m doing this as my hobby. In the beginning of the year I had nine horses, but some have been sold so now I have five to ride. That is quite good since I’m doing my Master, and I still have two years to study.”

“It is really something special to have this kind of cooperation with a friend and owner like Paul Schockemöhle. I really appreciate it, and I totally understand how rare it is. I mean, they are really fantastic horses and he has several riders working there that would love to ride them and still he lets me do it. It is really cool to have this kind of horses to ride, and that he lets me keep some of them for longer.”

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
When Laura and Silverstone got home from the German Championships the stable was nicely decorated. Now the paint has faded a bit, but is still a great reminder of the success. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Even though Laura is based at one of the biggest stables in Germany, she is doing all the management herself together with her father Joseph and mother Gaby. “Without Paul and my family I would never have come this far, I’m so grateful to all of them!”

Catch Me is not the only superstar Laura has in the stable. Silverstone, who won the German Championship for Ladies this year, is another of them. “Silverstone is also nine, and I got him as a 6-year-old as well. He is very special! My mum is riding two of my horses every day, and she helped me a lot with Silverstone. She always told me to believe in him, and that he is a really good horse. But it was extremely difficult at times. He is so spooky. When I’m riding at home and there are blankets hanging around the indoor or outdoor, I have to stop at every single blanket and let him smell them – both from the left and from the right – otherwise I can’t pass them. And it is the same every day! He always wanted to do good though, but he was so scared and spooky. At home, he is really scared of everything and you need to be very patient, but when you are at shows and you go into the ring he is not afraid of anything.”

Laura usually gets the horses as young horses, when they are 5-or 6-years-old, and it is her father that finds the horses that might suit her. “I really do my very best with every horse I get, also when they are not always so easy. I don’t want to give up fast. It is only one horse that I stopped riding after a bit more than half a year. It didn’t go bad, but we weren’t perfect together so I thought it was better for another rider to take over. Philipp Rüping is riding the horse now, and that works out really well.”

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Let's see what this duo can accomplish at the Europeans. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

After the Europeans, Laura has one or two shows left before it is time for a show break – both for her and the horses. “Last year I had to do a three-month practice for the university, so I was working Monday – Friday until 17-18 o’clock. This made it difficult for me to go to shows, so the horses had a five-month show break. I didn’t do any indoor shows at all. But it was good, the horses where full of energy and really enjoyed being back showing. This year I might do a couple of indoor shows, but first they deserve a proper break.”

Only 23, but still she seems ice cold in the ring – recently she jumped a clear first round in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen seemingly untouched by the task. Does she ever get nervous? “Almost never,” Laura laughs. “When I’m in Aachen or competing in the Nations Cup I might get some positive tension. But that is just good, then I can concentrate even better.”

So, what brought Laura to where she is today: Talent or hard work? “I think it is a mix of everything – talent, hard work, being ambitious and getting the possibility to do it. It doesn’t help if you have talent and work hard if you don’t have a horse. And then the team plays a huge role – you can get far alone, but with a good team you always get further.”

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