‘Better and fresher than ever’: how an 18-year-old veteran horse blitzed to third place on showjumping’s world stage

  • Jumping in a Longines FEI World Cup Final requires horses to be at the absolute peak of their powers, in prime athletic condition. The winner of this year’s renewal in Saudi Arabia (16–20 April), King Edward, is 14 years old; the runner-up Dubai Du Cedre 11. The average age of the top-16 in the final standings is 12 – which makes the achievement of the third-placed horse, Catch Me Not S, all the more remarkable.

    Peder Fredricson’s 18-year-old finished second in both the speed and the jump-off classes at the finals leading up to the decider, where he lowered one pole in round one to slip to third overall.

    “Charlie”, as they call him at home, was the oldest horse in the competition by some two years, and while most of his peers have long been consigned to the retirement paddocks, the grey continues to show huge zest for jumping these colossal courses. Many of his younger rivals looked weary by the end of five rounds of 1.60m fences, but Charlie looked as fresh as on day one. Peder believes the veteran, by Cardento x Ramiro’s Son, is “better than ever”.

    “He can’t count how old he is and I don’t tell him,” smiled Peder after the speed class. “But of course it’s a different thing if they are 11 or 12, or 18. I make sure I move him around a lot but still keeping him fresh. I lunged him in the morning, then double lunged [with two reins] him at lunch. I don’t do much, just keep the muscles supple because I don’t want to tire him.

    “I do it all myself, because at these shows it’s really important for me to see the horse, know the horse, see whatever you can do to make him feel good.

    “Before the class, I don’t jump much, maybe four jumps to save him and keep him fresh.”

    Peder also opted not to take him into some of the prize-givings: “He’s a very blood horse, he doesn’t like to stand still and he gets excited. It’s a long week and I want to save him from too much excitement. Tomorrow [a rest day] I will just walk him around, maybe lunge, but I won’t ride him.”

    How Catch Me Not spends his downtime

    Back home in Sweden, Peder makes sure Charlie is given the best possible chance of recovering from his exertions.

    “When they get older, they need a longer break after shows, so I just leave him completely alone,” he said. “For one week, he just goes out in the field with a friend, resting. I always give him a long break after a show, and then slowly I start to work him.

    “At his age, I don’t need to teach him new things, it’s the same with humans and horses. When they get older, they have the fitness, so I don’t need to get him fit, but I need to train him to stay explosive, because the muscles get a bit slower. It’s the same with me, I used to go to the gym and lift weights, but now I train jumps to keep my body quick and explosive. Him also, I basically jump a lot of small grids, bounces, nothing high – to keep him flexible and explosive. Not hard work, very light, to keep the body fresh and quick.”

    Catch Me Not was spring-heeled all week, as fresh as a horse half his age. And there are other advantages of riding a veteran who is still feeling in the prime of life.

    “For a World Cup Final, it’s really handy to have an experienced horse and we know each other so well,” said Peder.

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