Farewell to Olympic coach who trained thousands of athletes

  • By Tina Sederholm

    Leading equestrian trainer Lars Sederholm died on 12 October, aged 87.

    One of the outstanding horsemen of the 20th century, his influence spread far and wide, through his brainchild, Waterstock House Training Centre, and by virtue of training many of the world’s most successful riders, from the 1960s to the early 2000s.

    Lars was born on 27 November 1935, in Östersund, northern Sweden, but grew up further south, in Oskarshamn. Born into a non-horsey family, his earliest memories included sneaking off to the local abattoir to feed carrots and comfort the horses who were about to be shot.

    After military service in the Swedish cavalry, he became groom for two-time Olympic gold medallist Henri St Cyr. Henri was a tough taskmaster but an inventive trainer and instilled in Lars a thorough grounding in classical horsemanship. After leaving him, Lars worked for Joan Gold, leading British dressage rider of the time, where he met his future wife, Diana Lloyd.

    On an early date, Lars pointed at a large country house with a stable yard and said: “One day, I will have a house like that and build a place where young riders can come from all over the world and experience horsey life in Britain, because there’s nowhere like it.” That dream came true quite quickly as Diana’s parents owned the dilapidated Waterstock House, and together they started their training centre.

    Lars Sederholm was a fierce competitor and won the Tony Collins Memorial Trophy for leading horse- trials rider three years in a row, but in 1966, he began training full-time. Many household names would pass through the gates of Waterstock, among them Yogi Breisner, Lars’s right-hand man for 13 years, David O’Connor, Richard Walker, Henrietta Knight, Caroline Bradley, Michael Whitaker and Peder Fredricson.

    On any given day, you could expect luminaries such as William Fox-Pitt, Matt Ryan, Mary King and Ian Stark to turn up for a lesson. Lars also served as Olympic team trainer to teams from Canada, Germany, America and Sweden, as well as individuals from other nations.

    Waterstock ran for 35 years and welcomed thousands of students, who indeed got to experience that horsey life in the way Lars had envisioned all those years ago. When the training centre was sold in 1997, Lars temporarily pretended to retire, before becoming consultant head of training for the then British Show Jumping Association and instigating the accredited coach programme, which still runs today.

    He will, above all, be remembered for his infectious enthusiasm and ability to get the best from a horse. A man of integrity and exacting standards, he had no hesitation in letting you know if you fell short. His legacy of training horses with the “utmost respect for how the creator intended a horse to use himself”,  and “in balance forward, with rhythm”, will live on in those who were lucky enough to work with him.

    Lars Sederholm is survived by his wife Diana, daughters Tina, Annalisa and Annika and two grandchildren.

    His cremation will take place at North Oxfordshire Crematorium and Memorial Park on Tuesday, 21 November.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...