You have a nice set-up here...
This is the house where I live with my girlfriend and employees. There’s a small stable attached to it. The main stable is further away, where we also have an all-weather, indoor arena. I love my stables, because they are a part of my house. And there’s nobody I’d like to share my life more with than horses. When I wake up in the morning or come home at night, I can go from my bedroom to the stables without having to put my shoes on.
And your life revolves around your horses?
I love horses. It’s great to spend your life with these animals, because they also teach you something about yourself every day. They’re my life; day and night on my mind. I also believe that horses are a part of nature and should never be removed from there; which is why mineare allowed to graze in the fields and go for walks every day. Someriders mollycoddle their horses, but I don’t believe in that.
How do you pick a horse?
It comes with experience. I like horses with ‘blood’, meaning they’re sharp. I don’t like big and slow horses. Of course, we have both big and small horses, but all my horses are very alert. They’re quiet in their boxes, but when you get them out and start riding them, they’re something else. Each horse has its own personality. You never know whatit’ll bring you. So it’s good to wait and let them grow naturally, occasionally nudging them in the direction you want them to.
Do you worry about losing your No. 1 position?
No. I do a plan with my horses. One of the main things with riding is that you have to be flexible. You may have planned certain shows with certain horses but you need to be able to change your mind based on groundconditions. I could go to a five-star show every week if I wanted to. I don’t. I do two-three a month, and for the rest I go to two- or three-star shows. They don’t give as much money or points, but they allow me to introduce younger and upcoming horses. And I will not change that to be No. 1 longer. I also feel smaller, less commercial shows need to besupported.
What do you think of Rolex’s contribution to equestrianism?
I’m saying this deep from my heart: Rolex is the only sponsor in our sport which is really improving our sport, which is thinking of the future of the sport and its development. They’re also supporting the right shows, the ones with a sporting heritage which have made our sport what it is today. Through the support of Rolex, those amazing shows have been able to grow even bigger, but at a sensible pace.
What’s the watch you’re wearing?
It’s the Cosmograph Daytona, which I got right after winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics. Every time I wear it, it reminds me of thatmemorable win in London. So it’s very special. I rarely take it off and always make it a point to wear it in all my competitions.