How well do you really know your equestrian Jumping heroes?
The Longines FEI Nations Cup™Jumping is all over for another year, and we saw some of the best athletes in the world come to Barcelona to compete.
But some of these top riders have interesting histories and superstitions you may not know about
Here are a few eye-openers you may not know about…
One thing that seems to be common among these Jumpers is their passion for sport, with some of them playing multiple sports growing up - and ultimately having to choose just one to pursue. For some, this was easy - Lauren Hough (USA) was an ice-skater for many years growing up, however her mother told her she couldn’t do both, and the decision to pursue Jumping was an easy one for her.
Also nimble on the ice was Henrik Von Eckerman (SWE), who played Ice Hockey for a few years, before deciding to focus solely on Jumping.
For other riders, Jumping was not necessarily their first choice - Jur Vrieling from the Netherlands was more interested in football as a child, despite growing up around horses. Until, that is, he realised that he could actually do quite well in Jumping!
“I wanted more and more. I wanted to be better. In football you could only get points and my sister came home from riding with cups and trophies."
A theme certainly starts to emerge here, with football being a big passion of many Jumpers. At the age of sixteen, Jur’s teammate, Dutchman Harrie Smolders had to choose between playing football or Jumping, and as he already had a few horses from owners, he chose Jumping. “My soccer trainer always told me I could make money with soccer, but I didn’t really believe him”.
Thankfully he didn’t, and his decision paid off, as Harrie now sits at World #6 in the LONGINES rankings!
Not always smooth sailing
Another rider who has a dual love for football and Jumping is German Marcus Ehning. Marcus could be forgiven for preferring football to Jumping growing up, as he once received a special award for completing a Jumping course after falling off his horse three times!
One man who could certainly empathise with Marcus is Swiss Martin Fuchs, as he notes one of his most embarrassing moments as falling off during an award ceremony in Galgenen in 2011. At least he made it to the prize giving!