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The Next Generation: Pål Flam

Tuesday, 22 November 2016
The Next Generation

Pål Flam. Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for WoSJ.
World of Showjumping met up with Norway's talented Pål Flam. Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

In World of Showjumping’s new series 'The Next Generation', we will focus on determined young talents that aim for the top of the sport through dedication and hard work. In the next part of this series, we meet Norway’s 20-year-old Pål Flam – a member of the Young Riders Academy.

Although he is still a young rider, Flam has already made his World Cup debut. In October, he made the home crowds go wild at Kingsland Oslo Horse Show when riding a brilliant round on his 13-year-old Skjerabergs Larkin with only one time fault keeping him away from the jump-off. WoSJ sat down with the cool young talent to learn more about his goals and how being a part of the Young Riders Academy has affected his daily life.

“I started riding when I was five years old. My parents are in the business, and my dad Peter used to be a professional rider. We have our own yard in the South of Norway, in Kristiansand,” Flam tells about how it all started.

Since May, Pål has been a part of the Young Riders Academy and finds it a good initiative. “The Young Riders Academy helps us getting into shows, and it is also a bit like being back at school – we have lessons and they teach us a lot about different aspects of the sport. What they do for us, makes life a little bit easier. The people behind the Young Riders Academy are all very motivated and they really want to push younger riders forward,” Flam explains. As a part of the program, the young riders get to be based and train with a professional. “I will go and train with Gerco Schröder in the beginning of next year,” Pål smiles.

Flam was done with school two years ago, and has focused on his riding since. Days back home in Norway are now full of hard work. “I wake up in the morning and start mucking out, I usually muck out a few hours and then I start riding. I have a groom who helps me part-time and goes with me to the shows though,” he says about doing much of the stable duties himself in addition to riding.  

The World Cup in Oslo was the first ever for Flam, and he hopes to do more. “My goal for this season are the World Cups, and I want to get more experience at that kind of level. But, I need to see how it goes with my horse – I only have one horse for this level at the moment.”

Speaking long term, Flam has ambitious goals. “I want to be one of the best in the world, but I know it is difficult. Especially with the financial part, and to find good enough horses. I think I probably need to move out of Norway to be able to reach my goals,” Pål says.  

About how he is as a rider, Flam details: “I am very competitive, but I I don’t need to win every time I enter the ring. If the horse jumped amazing, I can be happy even if I have one down. I want to come out of the ring feeling that I learned something; that I am coming out better than I went in.”

Both Pål’s brothers ride, and he himself is trained by his father Peter who during his professional career as a rider was crowned Norwegian Champion many times and went to the Europeans three times. Peter knows the difficulty of the sport, but is very supportive of his son. “The riding is one thing, but to find good enough horses and to be able to make a living out of it – that is hard. But he wants to do it, and I support him with what I can,” Peter says. “The Young Riders Academy is very helpful for him; it is good to come out and see other people and to learn things that are important in this business. I think for us coming from this corner of the world, we maybe benefit even more from it than those living in the heart of Europe.”

As to Pål’s cool and collected behaviour, his father only has one explanation. “You can only be calm if you are confident with yourself and know your horse’s abilities – and he does.”

Pål also gets help from Swedish trainer Pether Markne, who only has good things to say about his pupil. “Pål is cool. He has a lot of humour, he is very mature for his age and he is really strong minded. Pål has very high goals and when he wants something, he will really go for it. I think it will be perfect for him to go and train with Schröder, I am very happy about that,” Markne says.

“I think the Young Riders Academy is a really, really good initiative – it is important for the young ones to be picked up and be told ‘hey, we believe in you and we will help you’. It is good for the young ones to go and see a professional system and learn from it, to add things to their own system.”

Talking about a young talent, Markne points out how becoming successful is really a lot like putting together a puzzle. “What is a talent? You need a lot of ingredients for that; the riding is just one part of it, with the flat work, the feeling... Then comes the management – all the economical aspects – there are so many parts to it. But, I believe Pål will get it together. He has good parents and he is a hard worker – for his age he already knows a lot about the sport. I believe he will reach his goals.” 


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen // Picture ©  (No reproduction without permission)

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