Tales from the eventing Euros: ‘I said ‘no I won’t help you find a stallion’ as I thought she was mad to want to breed from her’

One of the eye-catching performances from last week’s Longines FEI European Eventing Championships (28 August-1 September) was that of 23-year-old Swedish rider, Ebba Adnervik, and the evergreen gelding, Chippieh. They jumped a very polished double clear and made the cross-country look like a walk in the park, finishing a very respectable 20th at their first senior European championship.

Ebba, who is about to embark on her fifth and final year as an engineering student at Lund University has been competing 17-year-old Chippieh since 2018.

“I’m so lucky to ride him — I’m so grateful to Sara Sjöborg Wik, his owner,” says Ebba. “I’ve learnt so much from him and he’s such a kind, gentle but ambitious horse. He is so experienced and he just takes my hand and looks after me.”

Despite his age, Chippieh still appears to do everything with a smile on his face.

“He always goes with his ears pricked and it’s just up to me to ride him properly,” says Ebba, whose father Henrik also events up to four-star level and with 17 horses at home, incorporating a breeding programme. “He’s in really good shape and as long as he still wants to do it, I hope we can have another season competing together — the Tokyo Olympics would be the dream.”

Ebba is by no means the only rider Chippieh has taught the ropes to. Before Hedwig Wik, the daughter of Chippieh’s owner gave up eventing, she had success with him up to CCI4*-L level, and he was also the rider of Japan’s Kenki Sato at the 2012 Olympics. But it was Germany’s Jens Borgmann who started Chippieh’s international career and, along with his family, was there to support Ebba at Luhmühlen last weekend.

“Chippieh was my first horse, but the story behind him is quite a funny one,” explains Jens. “My girlfriend at the time had a mare called Copenhagen, who was a great jumper but was very difficult to ride and had poor conformation. She eventually decided she didn’t want to ride her any more and announced she would like to breed from her. I said ‘no I won’t help you find a stallion’ when she asked me as I thought she was mad to want to breed from her.”

However Jens did eventually give in and helped in the quest for a stallion for Copenhagen.

“I found one by going to the nearest stallion station and asking for the cheapest one they had,” he laughs.

That stallion was called Carnaby and on 24 May 2002, Chippieh was foaled.

“Chippieh was a character from the start,” says Jens, who broke him in and produced him. “From his first ride he was so easy. I took him to the World seven-year-old Eventing Championships at Le Lion D’Angers and to the CCI4*-S here at Luhmühlen when he was eight — he jumped double clear at both.”

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Jens’ father, Friedhelm laughs and says: “When I saw Chippieh warming up for the cross-country here with Ebba, I thought he looked almost too relaxed. She jumped a couple of warm-up fences then would let him have a walk and he was just wandering along on a long rein. Then when it was their time to go to the start box, again, he just wandered over. But as soon as the starter said ‘go’, Chippieh saw the flags of the first fence, he knew it was time to go and have fun. He pricked his ears and off they went. He is an amazing horse.”

Don’t miss the full report from the Eventing European Championships in Luhmühlen in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 5 September).