‘Horses are this sport’s most valuable asset – put their welfare first’: top coach’s advice to young riders

  • Swedish showjumping chef d’equipe Henrik Ankarcrona is one of the most respected coaches on the circuit, leading the nation’s riders to a host of accolades in recent years, including a hat-trick of gold medals which means they currently reign as Olympic, European and World Champions.

    The squad heads into the year of the Paris Olympics as one of the favourites to secure what would be the country’s fifth Olympic gold medal. They continue to be respected for their dedication to the sport, ability to perform under pressure, superb horsemanship and unparalleled sportsmanship.

    In this busy landmark year, the Swedish squad has also earned a coveted spot as one of the top 10 teams competing in the inaugural Longines League of Nations, which kicks off in Abu Dhabi next month. Sweden’s ultimate goal is, “As always, to win as much as possible with the best horse-rider combinations, presented in a good way to always put the horse first,” sums up Henrik of his country’s proud showjumping history.

    Henrik Ankarcrona: “Nations Cup and championships are the pinnacle of our sport”

    “For Swedish jumping, the FEI Nations Cup and championships have always been the pinnacle of our sport and what we believe is the very best way to get a good name as a jumping nation,” Henrik continues. “I believe that this new League will carry on that history.

    “Obviously recent successes speak for the cohesion of our team and I believe that this confidence and our attention to detail are a legacy that will bring us further success in this new series.”

    The Swedish fans are often among the most passionate and numerous in the crowd, particularly when it comes to team jumping competitions.

    World Showjumping Championships

    “I believe the new Longines League of Nations format will engage both media and spectators alike,” explains Henrik (pictured above) of the “unique” new series. “It makes it easier to follow and very exciting to see how it develops – and changes – from leg to leg towards the final. We are very proud to be one of the 10 teams to take part.

    “For Sweden, this means a lot and I’m sure this will encourage a lot of young riders to set their goals high, set the bar high, and work hard towards achieving the experience needed to participate in this League.”

    “Love your horse and put its welfare above all else”

    Speaking of inspiring the next generation, Henrik has some clear advice for young riders bidding to make a name for themselves in the sport.

    “If you are passionate about jumping and dream of being an international equestrian or championship rider, there are two elements – first, and most important, is to love your horse and put their welfare above all else,” he reveals.

    “Secondly, you need to work very hard. You need a drive and you need to be open to learning. Listen and look at the top riders.

    “But the most important one to listen to is your horse. Learn to read them and understand that they are the most valuable asset in our sport.”

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