Over a decade ago, Sweden’s Frida Andersén and her family let fate intervene when deciding which of her two horses to ride and which to sell when she couldn’t keep both of them.
Her mother Annki bought the dam of Frida’s Rio 2016 ride, Herica — a daughter of the thoroughbred stallion Krius xx — as a riding horse for herself.
However, she was forced to give up riding through injury, and the mare was put in foal to Cortus 15 years ago.
When Herta was two, the family had to downsize horses and, dithering about which horse to put on the market, put both her and her dam Herica up for sale.
“Whichever one did not sell would be my riding horse,” says Frida.
And so it was that she started the partnership with Herta, the horse who today took Frida down the centre line and made her an Olympian at age 26.
They scored 47.9 penalties and sit in 18th after the first of the two dressage days.
What is it like competing on a horse you’ve known since it was born?
“She’s my best friend,” enthuses Frida, “and you feel safe out there on the cross-country because I know her so well.”
Things were not always quite so smooth, especially for the 15-year-old Frida and four-year-old Herta.
“She was not so easy in the beginning,” says Frida. “She got homesick and didn’t want to go away from the other horses. She didn’t want to leave them.
“She loved to jump but in the cross-country she would just stop dead between fences and I would fall off.
“We never thought she’d have an eventing career. We spent a long time a one- and two-star to build her confidence.”
But what you see in public is not the same horse as at home.
“At home she’s so lazy and boring; she looks tiny and like nothing,” says Frida. “At shows, she grows.”
The mare still has a hint of the trickyness that dogged her in her youth.
“We sometimes still have problems coming from the stables and in the starting box, but the more she focuses on me, the better it is.”
The mare is now 14 and Frida hopes to have one or two more seasons eventing her, with Badminton as the ultimate goal, but also has foals in mind.