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FEI Athletes' Committee Chair Maria Gretzer the Swedish Jumping star and former national team coach, tells us about how her love affair with equestrianism began and her hopes for the future of the sport...
I was a small, small kid, probably about seven years old, when I started riding. I was fascinated by horses but for many years, I was scared and quite nervous about going to riding school. But because riding is something so special, I kept coming back.
With horses, you learn to be patient, how to listen, figure them out, and make them their best. In our sport, it’s so fascinating because you really have to try to understand each horse as an individual. Every horse is different, so it’s quite fun to see how they change with effort, work, and our love.
I have mostly young horses in my barn now and I love having really good, talented young horses. It’s so exciting to develop them so it is easy for me to stay motivated. In just one year, with flatwork and cavaletti, you can make them so much stronger and better. I love figuring out every individual horse and what they need to improve—that makes me so motivated. I also try to stay fit, ride everyday, teach, and compete at lower level competitions. I’m so grateful to be able to work with good quality riders and horses.
I travel quite a bit for clinics and attending shows with some of my riders, but when I am home, I usually ride in the morning and teach after lunch.
I only work with professional riders. I also teach at a big riding center in Sweden, create courses for trainers in Sweden, and judge a bit.
When I competed internationally, I was used to not having one day like the other and I love that I’m still able to do a lot of different things.
It is hard to say yet but I think it will be a big year for the FEI with the many changes. I think it is important to make our sport a little more interesting—for many riders and people involved with horses, this can be hard to understand.
We need to have our eyes opened to make the sport the greatest it can possibly be and to keep the public interest. The Olympics are certainly the biggest it can get but it can still be challenging for equestrian sports to get the public’s interest.
The FEI Athletes Committee was created in 2014 and is made up of one Athlete Representative per discipline – they work together on their common issues and also sit on their respective discipline committees to ensure the athletes have a voice within the global decision making process.
The Athlete Representatives are all top level sportspeople having competed at recent Olympic and/or World Championship level and they are elected by their peers – athletes that have also recently competed at Olympic and/or World Championship level. As the term is for four years and non-re-eligible, the process is back in swing in 2018 with an initial nominations phase where athletes can submit their candidacies followed by an online voting phase. For more information, go to InsideFEI
I’m so happy, fascinated, and motivated by working with horses. Horses are such interesting animals. When you try something and connect with a horse, it is an unbelievable feeling.
When I was competing internationally, I never had any time for other things, but since I’ve retired, I’ve started playing golf. It’s fun to do something different. I try to go out on the golf course once a week.
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Favorite song? Vaya con Dios
What’s a saying or quote that you live by? Try to look forward
Favorite place to travel? When it’s really cold in Sweden, I love traveling to Thailand. I also travel to a small private island on the East Coast of Sweden which is really lovely.