Peder Fredricson: The inevitable virus

It’s a cold autumn day. The shades of November gray create a feeling that time has stopped. The morning mist has touched the landscape and left a wet blanket over the otherwise bright red and yellow leaves.

Text and photos by Sara Silfverberg

Grevlunda, the home of Peder Fredricson, is busy. Peder is here to cast an eye of the yard and oversee the training of the horses as he repacks his bags to get ready for the next upcoming horse show. Living the life of a real horseman. The life of an Olympian silver medalist.

“I rode my first Olympic when I was twenty. That’s what started it. The virus.” He laughs out loud, knowing that he sounds way too nerdy. With a Bond-like raised eyebrow he smiles as he states; “The virus? Oh, it’s this burning fire. A desire to ride the Olympics. Again and again. I don’t think I’m the only one feeling this way. The Olympics is the ultimate goal for all athletes. Strange enough, since there is no prize money to win. In fact, there is nothing shiny to bring back home, nothing but the honor.” “You don’t feel like a hero coming back with a medal from the Olympics. You just feel you have done exactly the same job as any other weekend. The difference is that on this very show, everything clicked.

img_7575

“You don’t feel like a hero coming back with a medal from the Olympics. You just feel you have done exactly the same job as any other weekend. The difference is that on this very show, everything clicked.”

He sits with a cup of coffee in one hand, curled up like a cat in the kitchen sofa, with his smartphone in the other hand. It calls, not once but multiple times, and he tries not to answer.

“The biggest difference after the Olympics is that everyone wants a piece of you. That is all great, of course, and I appreciate it. But it takes a lot of time to manage. “In fact”, he says as flips his phone to silent mode, “the Olympics is probably the only show where the media starts to craft stories, rankings, calculating possible outcomes more than a year before the show, as the vibe builds up and starts to become apparent. To be honest, I understand them. It is a monumental event, larger than any other, with a legacy that covers centuries.”

Advertisement

img_7537

“But I know this is all a passing hysteria. Every month the ranking starts from zero, and as any rider, I need to keep on delivering great results, no matter if I was the winner of yesterday. “

Peder has made himself two large bread rolls. Tuna, lettuce and avocado is the choice of today’s toppings. He is hungry after the morning chores. Being home means definitely no vacation and free time for him. Everyone wants a piece of him and his support. He sips his coffee and starts working the sandwiches as he explains how the possibilities also have changed over the night.

“I leap-frogged over thirty steps from being number fifty to become number eighteen on the world ranking. This means, that I can literally pick and choose whatever competition and show I want to go to. Top twenty in the world can do that, Global Champions Tour and all. But I know this is all a passing hysteria. Every month the ranking starts from zero, and as any rider, I need to keep on delivering great results, no matter if I was the winner of yesterday. I know that trying to keep being in the top twenty will challenge me to continuously raise my own bar, and I appreciate that challenge.”

img_7618

“All of us needs to stay curious. Always be open for new perspectives. This is development and growth. We as riders need to grow. That is our responsibility towards our horses and towards the next generation riders who are going to learn from us.”

Setting the bar high is for sure not a problem for Peder. Already as a young cross-country rider, he had his bar high and competed amongst the international elite before he even got his driver’s licence. Since his first Olympics at twenty years of age, the bar has been raised in so many different ways, and countless successes have been coming his way. Still, he reveals, that this very silver medal from Rio is the finest item in his trophy cabinet, by far.

“This Olympic silver is for sure the absolute biggest success in my career, so far”, he adds and laughs. “But it didn’t come all as news to me. H&M All In has shown great results all year, so being airborne towards Rio, I knew we had a fair chance to hone this home.”

Peder stops for a moment as he recalls the entire experience. “I can’t even describe the feel of entering the arena,” he says and sips his coffee as he continues. “I arrived a few days early and was fortunate to have the chance to see the show jumping for the event riders. That was a clear bonus of course, but honestly, entering the arena and standing before that magnificent backdrop, makes you realise all other shows are just a dress rehearsal for this. This is it. This is the thing. This is what everyone strives for, and there are no more excuses.”

img_7616

“This is it. This is the thing. This is what everyone strives for, and there are no more excuses.”

Even if the Olympics and the ride that earned him the silver medal, is no longer than months ago, Peder talks about it as a hazy dream.

“I can’t remember whether I was the the third or fourth rider out,” he says and laughs about the mental fog. “Well, I was at least not the first rider out, so I had a chance to see the others. Watching others is like a quick tutorial, you see how they ride, the choices they make and the challenges that occur, and I’m more than sure that this helped me to do better choices myself in the ring.”

He hesitates for a second and adds; “I was calm and prepared when it was our turn. A part of that might have been that I wasn’t the first rider out. But more so, what made me calm and mentally prepared was all previous experiences I’ve had of Olympic Games and the notion that I didn’t need to become nervous or too excited, since there’s nothing new with this. I’ve been here, done this before.”

For sure, Peder has more than thirty years of Olympic experience in his back pocket. Two of his own, Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004, two being the solid support to his wife Lisen, Sydney 2000 and London 2012 and one supporting his brother Jens in London 2012.

“I’ve mentally prepared through five Olympics, to do this very one perfect”, he smiles, “And once you are there, the key thing is not to overthink it. Actually, you must come in with the mindset that you are here to do what you do every weekend. See the course, get your ride right, and just go out and do it.”

img_7689

“We are not only who we are by heritage and innate qualities, but also because of the many experiences that shapes us, our beliefs, reactions, and behaviours, and makes us richer as a human being – as well as riders.”

There is nothing around Peder’s being that is breathing beginner’s luck. It is all hard work. Years of preparation, trimming, management and a sharp eye and clear focus finding the right horses. Above all it is perfection. Having the stamina to make sure every little piece is perfect. Not letting anything fall between the lines. Neither with the horses nor with himself.

“I never planned to go on a diet”, he says as he comments his six kilos weight loss and distinctly smaller waistline. “What happened was that I had some major back problems this winter. I have always trained, lifted weights and tried to stay in shape, but with the back situation, I had to stop that. The only little exercise I did was when I sat on a horse, and we all know, that doesn’t build any contours. Also, when you don’t train that much, you don’t eat that much, so I ate less and suddenly I found myself being six kilos lighter. “Thank God, Allan probably said, since he had to jump with 6 kilos less weight on his back.”

Peder talks about his Olympic star H&M All In, or ‘Allan’ as he is called, now not only in the stable, but in the entire equestrian world, with a warmth in his voice. He clearly holds him dear, this ten years old bay gelding, being one of the few horses not touching a pole during the entire Games.

img_8943

“It’s quite hard to describe him. He can be a bit of a diva at home, and I let him. He doesn’t really need to put in the extra mile. Do they really say ‘as a horse as master’?”

“It’s quite hard to describe him. He can be a bit of a diva at home, and I let him. He doesn’t really need to put in the extra mile. Do they really say ‘as horse as master’?”

“One part of the planning and process to get to the Olympics was the horse material. I needed a new talent that could reach all the way. Luckily”, Peder says and takes two big mouthfuls of his coffee, “one of my very close partners and horse owners was interested in buying a horse for the Olympics. With a lot of research and great contacts all over Europe, we longlisted a fair amount of horses that we wanted to have a closer look at, who we assessed had the potential to be our new star.”

img_8861

“You know, I just had this notion in the back of my head that I must go back and have a look at this seven-year-old. I had this gut feeling that maybe this horse could be something special.”

Peder explains that there are so many things that need to be right until it’s right. Chemistry, size, talent, pedigree, conformation, heart, gut, bravery, speed and will just to name a few. For Peder, there is no word called ‘good enough’. It’s either The One, or noone.

“After months of looking, and many horse names crossed of the list, we reached down to the scribbles of the name “All In”. I knew I had seen him compete at the world championships for young horses in Belgium. He was seven years old at the time and a lot hotter than he is now. It was Nicola Philippaerts that sat in the saddle, and I remember that I thought to myself that maybe this horse was just too small, hence the reason he was so far down the list.”

Now, if you’ve been on a journey looking for horses, you know how exhausting it is. Especially after months of travelling and testing. And Peder was just that exhausted. From the long list, only two horses had been good enough to be shortlisted as potential stars, still, none had caused the Walt Disney’s Ferdinand reaction; ‘Splendido, he is the one!’

“You know, I just had this notion in the back of my head that I must go back and have a look at this seven-year-old. I had this gut feeling that maybe this horse could be something special.”

img_8695

“He is a small horse, In fact – I’m not sure how small he is. I don’t dare to measure him”.

Spacey like Peder is, he, of course, listened to his gut feeling, rebooked his flight, and of he went to the little town of Meeuwen, where All In was stabled.

“I tried him and a few jumps later, I knew it. He was the one. I have tried many horses in my life, and very rarely felt the way I did at that moment. He was explosive, powerful, quick and very careful. And I was in love.”

No shit Sherlock. Even for a born pessimist, one can see that love is all around. Peder’s eyes shine of pride and warmth when talking about his new-found star.

“It’s very hard to tell if a horse can reach ‘all the way’ at the age of seven. But you can feel that the horse is special. It’s unmistakable, this feeling. To me, Allan was just that. More than anything I’ve ever felt before. I knew that I wouldn’t bare standing beside and seeing someone else sit on this horse. I even felt, that if I couldn’t ride this horse I would simply stop riding. Full stop. That was so apparent to me, so real. There was nothing else to do. We simply needed to buy him. It’s very hard to tell if a horse can reach ‘all the way’ at the age of seven. But you can feel that the horse is special. It’s unmistakable, this feeling. To me, Allan was just that. I even felt, that if I couldn’t ride this horse I would simply stop riding. Full stop. That was so apparent to me, so real.

img_8513

“It’s very hard to tell if a horse can reach ‘all the way’ at the age of seven. But you can feel that the horse is special. It’s unmistakable, this feeling. To me, Allan was just that. I even felt, that if I couldn’t ride this horse I would simply stop riding. Full stop. That was so apparent to me, so real.”

The journey was simple. Only a short time after the purchase, Peder brought him home and started his schooling. Peder didn’t change a thing in his methodology or strategy. He carefully guided the new star to feel at home, first at Grevlunda, soon in the smaller show-rings, and lastly at bigger arenas. Allan grew in confidence and learned to focus. And soon it was clear that he was ready for the bigger tasks.

“We won the Grand Prix in Gothenburg earlier this spring, and I knew he was ready for more. It was somewhat a receipt that he now was calm, confident and ready to do these bigger shows with ease.”

Even though the Olympics had always been the intention from the very start, now the more careful trimming and training began in order to fully match All In for the upcoming Games.

“Thanks to Sibon I learned a few things about small horses. How to tailor every piece of the training to be to their fortune. Sibon was so small so every spare gram I could save for him not to carry, was a gram higher in the jumps. I weighed the boots, the shoes, the saddle, the saddle pad. Everything. I took all these learnings with me and applied it to Allan. He is also a small horse, In fact,” he says, “I’m not sure how small he is. I don’t dare to measure him,” and laughs out loud. “But I do know how to make his job easier. That is my responsibility as a rider. To serve my horses the very best opportunity to jump well.”

img_8227

“The fantastic thing about horses is that you get so many significant moments in your life that is big, if not “the biggest”. When everything is just there. When it is, it doesn’t matter if you are trotting poles with a youngster or sitting on a superstar at the prizegiving. The moments are equally significant”

“The fantastic thing about horses is that you get so many significant moments in your life, that is big, if not “the biggest”. When everything is just there. When it is, it doesn’t matter if you are trotting poles with a youngster or sitting on a superstar at the prizegiving. The moments are equally significant”

He has a certain way he works with his horses. A natural, playful and very genuine way. Peder is building a mental and heartbound relationship alongside the physical schooling and development. Seeing him doing even the simplest things, looks next to spiritual. The immediate change in carriage and confidence is close to visible for the eye. The horses are always with him to one hundred percent. Peder lets them make own decisions, as he works them in a playful way. A concept that proven itself successful. “My system is no news to me nor my horses. My methodology and system are almost as old as I am. But I’m always open for improvements and to learn new things all the time,” he explains and continues; “How you are as a rider is similar to how you are as a person. You ride as you are.”

img_8469

“I want a mental dialogue together with my horses. A communication where I receive questions, suggestions, initiatives, thoughts and answers so we together can make decisions. “

He points out the ever so debated concept of ‘nature versus nurture’, that we are not only who we are by heritage and innate qualities, but also because of the many experiences that shapes us, our beliefs, reactions and behaviours, and makes us richer as a human being – as well as riders.

“I grew up with horses on the countryside, riding bareback over the fields and playing blithely with my brother without any worry about the future. It was all lovely, but if I would have stayed in that environment I probably would have become a different rider. In young years, we moved to Flyinge and me and my brother had suddenly a totally different surrounding, with some of the best trainers and riders in the world to watch and learn from, every day. Kyra Kyrklund training dressage on one arena, Göran Lindstrand long-reining a horse on the other. Jan Jönsson teaching students and horses in cross-country and Peter Ericsson jumping the young horses next to our kitchen table.”

img_7855

“Imagine…Kyra Kyrklund training dressage on one arena, Göran Lindstrand long-reining a horse on the other. Jan Jönsson teaching students and horses in cross-country and Peter Ericsson jumping the young horses next to our kitchen table.”

                                                                                                                                                                   

 “A few years after I was fortunate to train for great role models like Mark Todd and Franke Sloothaak. All trainersshaped me in their own way. This had an immense impact on me, and laid the foundation to the system I have today.”

He refills his cup, half way up, and as doing so, Lisen enters the kitchen. They talk for a while about the apparent things you talk about in a family, kids, tomorrow’s plans, food, school, and the todo’s for the week. Lisen is in the midst of producing a big horse show, where she is the nave and motor. She seems anything but concerned despite this heavy responsibility and chooses to focus on the trophy cabinet in the living room of which she wants a photo for their webpage. Peder sits down on the sofa again, with his hands wrapped around the mug, and picks up on the thread where he left it.

“My system is influenced by my many years in eventing, based on inviting the horses to think for themselves, in order to go fast, jump well and keep their own balance. I want a mental dialogue together with my horses. A communication where I receive questions, suggestions, initiatives, thoughts and answers so we together can make decisions. I don’t want to be the dictator telling my horse what to do, just as little as I want to do this with my kids. I’m looking for an honest relationship. A give and take, a mutual understanding and respect. That to me is riding.”

img_7871

“I’m not a person who wants to wake up and follow exactly the same routines every day. I’m curious to have other things happening to me and for me. I have a burning interest to know how things work, in all areas; gardening, motors, cooking, art and of course riding. I’m a real nerd, and I enjoy being one.”

He stops for a few seconds as his son enters the room and tries to give him the stationary phone where an eager salesperson is waiting to talk to ‘the legal guardian’ in the household, but Peder only laughs and the somewhat disappointed telemarketer has to hang up without another box checked in his sales report.

“All this together shapes a riding-personality,” he continues after the minor interruption. “I continuously shape and adjust myself, on the basis of my solid foundation. If I can influence and inspire any young riders to create their own solid foundation based on curiosity, communication and respect, just as my mentors inspired me, I will be proud and humbled. That is what role modeling is. That is how we each contribute to a better future.”

It’s apparent that Peder feels a responsibility paying forward what he once was given, by men and horses.

img_8067

“If there would be three advice I would really want to pay forward it would be; get your Goal Setting right, Surround yourself with the right Role Models and know your Driving Force.”

He looks certain, since he knows the meaning and purpose of these three fundamental pillars.

“What are your goals?”, he asks with a voice of authority.

“You need to know what your goals are. If you want to get somewhere, you first need to know where you want to get. If you don’t have the Olympics as a goal, you will never get there. It won’t just happen by itself. I don’t say that the Olympics needs to be everyone’s goal. But if it is. Be prepared to work for it. Many are at a certain level where they are pretty comfortable. To move up a level or two is hard work and uncomfortable. You need to be prepared to get uncomfortable. If you are, it’s all yours. The future.”

This is important to Peder, he knows that these things are inevitable if you want to be a winner and get to the top.

“Secondly,” he says, “It’s important to surround yourself with intelligent, wise people. Good people as well. People who make you better. Never be the best person in the group, always surround yourself with people who you want to learn from. You are and will become like the people you surround yourself with. Taste it. Understand what it means, and select the people who shape you wisely. But give back, and let yourself shape others. That is your gift to others.”

“Last, but not least, know what your driving force is. Keep the joy of what you are doing. The most important part is to keep enjoying your life and love what you do. Happiness and love are contagious. You can’t build a happy life on success, because you won’t win every day. But you can build a happy life on happiness.”

img_7759

“I think we all should be curious. That is one of the most important things in life. How will we otherwise explore and discover new territories, new oceans, and new ways of doing things?”

He hesitates for a second, as he realizes the sandwiches has disappeared along with his story, stirs his coffee twice with the teaspoon, sips it as he reflects back on his own journey and what brought him here.

“All this, what I’m saying now, is based on my drive to be curious. And I think we all should be curious. That is one of the most important things in life. How will we otherwise explore and discover new territories, new oceans, and new ways of doing things? I’m not a person who wants to wake up and follow exactly the same routines every day. I’m curious to have other things happening to me and for me. I have a burning interest to know how things work, in all areas; gardening, motors, cooking, art and of course riding. I’m a real nerd, and I enjoy being one.

“One example of that, that is quite telling, is this one time when I saw Frederic Pignon at the Stockholm Horse Show some years back”, he says as he recalls the experience. “I had a horse that I barely could ride. I could jump him all right, but I couldn’t create this communication or relationships that I so desperately wanted and that I knew deep down was necessary in order for us to really team up and be partners in the ring. Same time as I sat there in the warming ring and tried to get into his head, Frederic entered the arena with eight horses, who he not only stood on, but who also had their full concentration on him, doing the most mind blowing performance in the arena. I was deeply impressed and thought that I must learn to create such a bond and communication with my horses. So, that night I sat and down and ordered a lot of books on the topic. Books about freedom dressage about Natural Horsemanship and about horse psychology. And I read, day and night. Studied and tried to find better keys to the horse’s mind and heart, just as Fredric had demonstrated. Weeks through my studies, I got more understanding for this and started to see results in my training. Results I would have never got if I had taken the time to really study and learn. Much later, I had to realize that I never really came that horse much closer, but I came a far way expanding my view of training and my methodology, and really landed parts of how to practically think about horses and how to communicate. Learning’s that has helped me ever since.”

img_7963

“There is so much knowledge stored in these old books. So much, that if you read them once, you will only scratch the surface. You need to read, test and try, integrate your thoughts into actions and actually see what happens.”

Now, it’s visible. The nerd Peder Fredricson. The side of himself that he refers to when he talks about being deeply passion about horses and the sport.

“In another period I was crazy about older books, like the classic editions of Steinbrecht ‘Gymnasium des Pferdes’, the french Godfather and ecuyer Francois Robichon de la Guérinière and his ‘Ecole de Cavalerie’ as well as the Swedish classic edition of ‘Ridhandboken’. Me and my brother read and discussed through countless nights the multiple perspectives and interpretations and how we would work and ride differently. And sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter we did change. We tested new things, tried new perspectives. Sat more confident on our right seatbone, lowered our shoulder on the left, turned our hands slightly more upright with the thumb as the highest point, got the inside hind leg more active through turning our torse more to the inside, or whatever theory we tested. And that is where the learning lies. The unsaturated curiosity. The fearlessness of trying. The happiness of learning. There is so much knowledge stored in these old books. So much, that if you read them once, you will only scratch the surface. You need to read, test and try, integrate your thoughts into actions and actually see what happens.”

He pauses for a second as he weighs his words. This to him is important. This is the core of his passion. The love for horses, the continuous learning. The never ending development.

“All of us needs to stay curious. Always be open for new perspectives. This is development and growth. We as riders need to grow. That is our responsibility towards our horses and towards the next generation riders who are going to learn from us.”

img_7689

“That is where the learning lies. The unsaturated curiosity. The fearlessness of trying. The happiness of learning.”

He smiles his very distinct ‘H&M’ smile. The one that accentuates his jawline and the Clint Eastwood-carved cheekbones. His face being one of the most well known in the Equestrian sky. Peder, the model. Peder, the horseman. Peder, the Olympian.

“Now, my curiosity takes me to explore how to compete at the highest level. And as you know me, I will not stop for anything. Not for discomfort, not for the challenge. I’m ready to put in the time and the effort it will take. To do the extra mile. I know this will entail a search for a new star in order to stay on this level. It is all about getting ready for the next Olympics. As you know, once you’ve got the virus, it never lets you go.

img_8558

 

Advertise to EQUILIFE MAGAZINE 

 

 

 

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.