With his hands on the reins of 8 Advanced horses and his eyes firmly on the Olympic prize, Ludwig is certainly one to watch when we think about the #RoadToRio. “It’s one show every 4 years that matters. There is nothing in between this. This is all or nothing. You work on a 4-year basis. Now I work towards Rio but also towards Tokyo 2020. Every athletes dream is success in the Olympics and its what you get recognised for” commented Ludwig when talking about the year ahead.
He is certainly in great shape this season, with wins at Belton and Ballindenisk already in the bag and with a number of rides lined up for Chatsworth. The selectors may have their opinions on certain pre-Olympics events but Ludwig has a plan, to look to the horses and make his preparations in the best way he can to suit the horses and maximise his performance.
“Last year I did a year of studying and didn’t have as many horses. I only had 4 horses over the year and I was going to a big show and not having competed for 3 weeks. This year we have 12 horses, 8 of which are Advanced which is extraordinary, I think this is why I feel in such good shape as my eye is in”
But it isn’t just the phenomenal horse power and raw talent that is setting Svennestal apart from the rest and leading him to be in peak condition. We remember a wilder side of the young Swede, from partying the night away at Event Rider Association balls, but it now seems like the serious side has taken over. “I’m so boring, I used to be so interesting and naughty but I’ve settled down a bit. We’ve had some great nights out in the past. But this year is a bit different, I’m trying to be serious and eat well and sleep well and think of what I can do to become a better athlete.”
“I go to the gym about 3 times a week, to Oaksey House where I work with my personal trainer. I’ve got a trainer from the Swedish Olympic team as well. I take my own fitness seriously which is new for me, in the last 5 months, and I feel great. I try to eat three proper meals a day and sleep enough.”
With a solid performance at the London Olympics behind him and European Championship medals, the pressure to perform is on, not only to reach Rio but to shine once he is there. As competitors ourselves we often fall foul to the pressures of maintaining a certain level of performance and living in the public eye with Social Media coverage of riders and events being high – there is nowhere to hide.
“I think it’s good [pressure that is], because then you know you need to go out to perform. Everyone is different though. I was very nervous when I was younger so I learnt how to cope. I have lots of tools to cope. You want to be nervous but not too nervous as you get black outs etc but if you aren’t nervous you aren’t on the edge to perform”
One of those ‘tools’ if the support network that Ludwig surrounds himself with – the eventing family as it were. With sister Ellen being a 3*** competitor herself and being based with the legendary Sir Mark Todd, Ludwig is certainly in good company.
“We have a great community in eventing, just hear at Badgerstown, you know mark and everyone else are around and we all help each other. I have some great friends in eventing and my trainers, all these people are vital for success” said Ludwig.
Before moving off the Olympic subject we take a trip down memory lane to 2012 and the London Olympics – that fabulous summer when the equestrian sports really hit the mainstream media.
For Ludwig the best memory of that summer was finishing the cross country – “You move away from home to achieve a goal and I was living up in Yorkshire with Chris Bartle and he was great but to be honest I didn’t enjoy Yorkshire. I had all of my friends in Sweden and you start to think was it worth it, and then finishing the cross country at the Olympics you realise, I’d do it all over again to get this feeling!”
The bit that really stood out for us was his views around the commercial aspects that the Olympics bring to the sport of Eventing and leaves us with comments that certainly prove food for thought, especially with the advent of the forth coming Event Rider Masters series that aims to bring Eventing to the fore and to the wider audience.
“The Olympics in London was really inspiring. Eventing really shows when it goes to the Olympics that it is very commercial and very popular to watch and we in eventing need to capitalise on this and learn how to make it a bit more commercial.”
But outside of the Olympics and before we talk fashion, what does this young international star look for in a horse?
“I like a pretty horse. I hate a badly looking horses. I want the horse to have something special about them. The rideability is also very important and correct paces. It is always nice to have the extravagance but the basic paces need to be correct and able to develop. They need to be a good jumper too, a good technique and careful. Then you find a horse that is a little bit different and does the job well but still the basics need to be good and correct.”
“I think people do so many stupid things when they buy a horse. It’s a dangerous sport and you should have an easy horse that is safe (when talking of amateurs) I think it’s a bit trendy in England to have a quirky horse but I do everything I can to avoid them. My business is all about selling good horses and I need to be careful with my brand and therefore bad or difficult horses is not what I’m going to do”.
So clearly if you are in the market for a good looking and straight forward horse with correct paces and a good jumping technique, get in touch with Mr Svennerstal! But he makes a number of good points – it is a dangerous sport we find ourselves in and with a large proportion of amateurs in the sport that do this for fun and as a hobby we need to be looking for less quirks and more quality and it is so refreshing to hear someone talking so sensibly and looking to actively promote this quality as part of their brand.
But which horse does Ludwig rate the most? Well that would be 8 year old Aspe. She’s certainly Ludwig’s one to watch and where he is placing his bets for being a horse of a lifetime.
And which horse does he owe his success too? That has to be his London 2012 ride Shamwari, who he bought as 6 year old and ‘learnt to ride properly’ on, following not such a straight forward or good Junior horse.
And which horse would Ludwig most like to ride? DHI Lupison – watch out Holly Woodhead, he’s got his eyes on your horse!
Now we couldn’t finish an interview with the best dressed man in eventing without talking fashion and of course the signature hairstyle!
The golden question – ‘Is being well dressed important?’ “Absolutely” replied the well dressed Ludwig. “I really like dressing up a little bit and try to dress well, I think it’s also important that you want to showcase something and showcase a good image [for the sport]”.
With trot up attire a hot topic at the moment he’s a man that clearly takes his trot up wear seriously, especially after previous experiences…”My first trot up I arrived in Finland and didn’t really have a clue what was going on. I was trotting up in jeans and looking quite trashy and God I got some bollocking! I didn’t have a clue and ever since then I’ve been conscious of what I’m wearing.”
Clearly there is some suspense about what this good looking chap will be wearing on the runway, and at the time of the interview King Bob was still entered at Badminton, yet there was no getting anything out of him as to what he’s be sporting in the trot up, but our guess would certainly include a jacket and tie!
And ladies the hair is here to stay!! “Now it’s quite short, this year it’s been a bit shorter and it’s going to stay a bit shorter, more serious, tidier, less curls and more straighter lines this year.”