Malmo’s European Eventing Championships: free wellness and bikes for all

  • Malmö is an odd horse trials venue. This city of modern apartment blocks and green public spaces laced with cycle ways abuts the Baltic. And in a long, slim park sandwiched between city and sea sits the European Eventing Championships venue. It’s a small, welcoming site, without big crowds as yet — but then everywhere I’ve ever been in Sweden looks half-deserted to me, as though I’ve just missed an air raid warning. Population density is not a problem here.

    You can read elsewhere on this website about Rudiger Schwarz’s really challenging and beautifully built course (check out our photo gallery of the fences). Riders are talking about it very respectfully, but are grateful too that this won’t turn into “a dressage competition” as far as they can tell.

    “I can’t actually see my line between some of the fences because I can’t see over the first part at all,” said Ireland’s diminutive Sarah Ennis today.

    It has been great fun today to watch Pippa Funnell back on her first British team for 9 years (though she rode as an individual at Kentucky’s World Equestrian Games in 2010), and to see Lucy Wiegersma, a supremely hard worker who has seen team chances evaporate with lameness problems in the past, finally on a senior team.

    Absolutely everyone seems to travel by bike in Malmo, and every space between grandstands and tents becomes an impromptu bike park. Even Mark Phillips has lumbered past on one — though he looks more at home on a horse (“You got that right,” he muttered).

    The ever-hospitable Swedes have a notice on the door of the riders’ loos offering “free wellness for everyone”. They point out that LED infrared light treatment; pulsed magnetic massage and massage blankets are available to all.EuroLife_DSC9022-1

    But it strikes me the ocean, just yards from the stables, with its firm sandy bottom and extensive shallows makes the ultimate hydrotherapy pool. Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon is one who has taken her horse, the lovely, British-owned Borough Pennyz, for a paddle, as have the Belgians (one is pictured above). I wonder if we’ll see more in there on Saturday night after completing this extremely twisty cross-country track?

    Numerous jetties off the beach have steps to allow swimmers easy entry to the water. Some of my press colleagues have brought swimmies, but so far it’s all talk, no action…

    I was born in Sweden, in Gothenburg, some way north of Malmö, though I did not live here for long. The first gift placed beside my hospital crib was one of Sweden’s traditional painted wooden horses, a ‘Dala horse’ as some know it. It’s been lovely to see these decorating one of the cross-country fences, to eat dill sauce with my supper, and to butter my bread with a wooden butter knife — they are all things that I’ve grown up with; things my mother loved about Sweden and brought home to England.

    The focus now is what else we can bring home to England at the end of this week — how about another gold to add to those won last week in Herning?


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