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The year in review – with Henrik von Eckermann: “Patience really is the biggest virtue”

Saturday, 31 December 2022
Interview

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ
"The road to Herning is what I remember most, rather than that moment when it all paid off. I do this for us – for Janika and me and our little family – and sharing it makes the satisfaction of reaching our goals even greater,” Henrik von Eckermann says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

In 2022, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann – current world number one and Olympic team champion – was crowned double World Champion in Herning, Denmark, with his incredible King Edward (Edward 28 x Feo). However, instead of the many successful moments, what von Eckermann remembers the most as he looks back on his phenomenal year, is the road that led to those moments.

A precise goal 

“The main target in 2022 was of course the World Championship in Herning,” von Eckermann begins. “We had a goal after the Olympics, which was Herning and we made a plan towards it very shortly after Tokyo. When the second wave of Covid-19 came, we decided to start up in Doha and from there on, we had a very precise plan towards Herning. A few things happened on the way, and we made small adjustments, but looking at the plan in a larger scale, it was never altered. It was nice to win of course, but the way there with everything behind the success was very special too. The road to Herning is what I remember most, rather than that moment when it all paid off. I do this for us – for Janika and me and our little family – and sharing it makes the satisfaction of reaching our goals even greater.” 

Needle in the haystack

“I have learned so much in the last few years,” von Eckermann says. “We always say how with horses, you are never fulfilled in your learning process, but for me, the last years I had a feeling I learned so much. One of those things has been experimenting with having our horses barefoot, and with so many aspects we have gone even more into detail. We learn from the horses, and I think it is very interesting. As an example, we have also started to pay way more attention to the gastric health of our horses. Sometimes I have a feeling that it can be a reason behind way more issues than we actually think, even if a horse looks good on the outside.” 

“I really enjoy looking for the needle in the haystack,” von Eckermann continues to speak about the endless learning that comes with the sport. “Sometimes, with horses, you can have a feeling that you could still improve, but it can be hard to identify exactly what must change. Looking for those little points to improve on is what I enjoy a lot. In our sport, when it comes to the highest level, the margins are so small that the tiniest details do count and can make a huge difference. I am competitive, so I am happy with the good results, but I have a group of horses now that I really enjoy working with daily. What I have been reminded of again and again this year, is that you need patience in this sport – maybe more than anything else. I believe that patience really is the biggest virtue.” 

Keep an open mind 

“I have a big goal for 2023, and that is the World Cup Final,” von Eckermann says about the new year ahead. “That is my main goal, even more so than the Europeans. I have been third twice, and I would like to do that better. I have always liked the World Cup-series; for me that is how my career started and these were the competitions that pulled me into the sport. I grew up watching the World Cup on TV, and won my first World Cup with Gotha in Mechelen ten years ago. I remember watching when Ludger won with Ratina in 1996 – that is my first memory of the World Cup-series. And when Rodrigo won three times – I still remember how impressive it was and how unbelievable Baloubet jumped.”

“In general, the sport is moving forward in a very high speed, in all of its aspects,” von Eckermann says. “We have to adapt; the whole society is evolving. I am very cautious to say ‘things were better before’ – a good example is horses going barefoot. If someone told me five years ago that I would be jumping my horses barefoot, I would have been sceptical. In the end, if you are a vet, a blacksmith, whatever your role is in our industry, I believe everyone should strive to improve. Every horse is an individual, and you cannot generalize. Since the horses cannot speak to us, there will always be things that are uncertain. I think it is important to keep an open mind and not fear change.”

 

31.12.2022 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of Showjumping.com. If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 



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