Edouard's
Olympic
Dreams

12 May 2018

We catch up with Swiss teen sensation Edouard Schmitz...

Edouard Schmitz has had to work hard to make a name for himself in the sport of Jumping, but perhaps the hardest to convince—at least, initially—of his desire to pursue a riding career was his own mother.

 

“My mom rode when she was younger and had quite a bad crash, so she was not so thrilled when I wanted to take riding lessons,” Schmitz, 19, recalled. “She said, ‘I’d rather have you do something else before you try that.’”

 

So, Schmitz - who took part in the recent youth panel at the FEI Sports Forum - grew up trying his hand at various sports, including football and, quite successfully, skiing. But a love for animals repeatedly drew him to horses, and one day his parents gave him the green light to do what he wanted most.

It didn’t take long to gain his family’s confidence...

“I always had this kind of curiosity for animals and horses,” he explained. “Every time I tried a different sport, I always came back to riding. One day, I got the okay from my parents to start, and I’ve never stopped since.”

 

His talent apparent, it didn’t take long to gain his family’s confidence, and last year, the then 18-year-old finished 10th individually at the 2017 FEI European Jumping Championships for Juniors.

 

The Swiss Junior Champion of 2015 and 2016, he also rides for the legendary Fuchs family in Zurich. Thomas Fuchs represented Switzerland at the 1992 Olympic Games, while Markus Fuchs is a veteran of the 2000 Games and was chef d’equipe of the Swiss team at the 2012 Games in London.

 

 

Martin Fuchs, 25 and Thomas’ son, is an international show jumper in his own right, with wins already at the five-star level.

 

“In the almost-a-year that I’ve been here, I’ve really learned a lot,” Schmitz said. “I wouldn’t have thought I’d learn so much in such a short time.”

 

Schmitz’s top mount is Cortino 46, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Coriano, owned by his family, whom Schmitz rode at the last three European Championships.

 

He also owns the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Worissa’s Whinny and rides several others for the Fuchs family.

 

“I have the privilege of owning my top horse, which wasn’t always the case,” Schmitz said.

 

“I got Cortino when he was seven, and I was 14. Now he’s 11, and he’s brought me all the way up the ranks. It’s a nice story.”

 

Schmitz hopes he can keep climbing. He aims to return to the FEI European Championships as a Young Rider in 2018 and put forth a competitive performance.

 

 

While he has competed successfully in three-star ranking classes, he hopes to also step up to compete in three-star grand prix events this year.

 

Long-term, he desires to represent his country on the world’s biggest stages.

 

“I plan to let myself dream a bit still and see how far I could go,” he said. “The Olympics are the biggest dream for any athlete in any discipline.

 

“I’d be just as happy if I’m able to win a Grand Slam or a grand prix like this. The World Equestrian Games are another. If you win that, you’re definitely one of the best riders ever.”        

 

Schmitz successfully juggles his riding career with his university studies at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School of Zürich, where he is pursuing a degree in engineering.

 

Traveling to shows on the weekends - even coming to participate in the 2018 FEI Sports Forum straight from competition before promptly heading back for class - he is aware of the wealth of talent around him and excited for what the future holds.

 

After all, in the sport of Jumping, riders as young as 18-year-old Reed Kessler (USA) have competed for Olympic glory, with Lucy Davis (USA) bringing home a team silver medal from Rio (BRA) at 23. Last year’s young rider champion at the European Championships was a fellow Swiss rider, Bryan Balsiger.

 

“You see lots of young talented riders when you are at these events,” Schmitz said. “Sometimes you think, (watching pony and child riders), ‘Did I ride this well when I was [their] age?’”

"The Olympics are
the biggest dream
for any athlete"

Humble, polished, and intelligent...

...Schmitz may have an affinity for maths and physics, but it’s undeniable that he gets his greatest enjoyment out of his time spent in the saddle.

 

“The most special part about show jumping is that it’s not a predicable sport,” Schmitz said. “So many factors come into play, and it’s not always the same.

 

“You’re on horses that have minds of their own, and there can be unpredictable reactions. It’s all this unpredictability that you need to compose with that’s so beautiful with riding.”

 

The 2018 FEI European Championships for Young Riders, Juniors and Children for Dressage, Jumping and Eventing will be held at Fontainebleau, France July 9-15. Follow all the build up to the event by subscribing to the FEI's YouTube channel

 

Text by Catie Staszak

Images by Anthony Demierre