Interview Nina Fagerström – the Finnish top rider and her new life in France

09. Jul 13 | 12:36 | By | Category: INTERNATIONAL NEWS, interviews

9 July 2013

She was the predecessor of Daniel Deusser at Stephex Stables. She rode his second best horse at the moment, Mouse. And everybody who knows Stephex Stables, is aware that this great place for horses and riders can be the key to success fort hem. Nevertheless, Nina Fagerström decided after 10 years working for Stephex to leave – and let Daniel take her seat. After also riding horses for Olympic Gold Medaillist Eric Lamaze the Finnish rider is now self-employed at the stables of Eric Levallois in France. Of course it´s difficult to bring totally new horses to success. But this year at the Sunshine Tour in Valencia Nina Fagerström could already win again…


After 10 years at Stephex Stables you now decided to take a new challenge and have your own business. How did this decision come up?

I spent ten years of my life at stephex in Belgium. I worked hard and earned the spot I had there the last years. I got nice horses to develop to the high level like Talent, Mouse, Wivina and Viva. Once I got my foot between the door there was nothing to stop me. I had horses that fight for me and a great team with top class groom, ferrier, vet, coach (Trevor Coyle) and of course Stephan Conter himself who always was pushing us for the better results. But even if I had a lot of success in the ring I wasn’t completely happy. I had great times there and I learned a lot, but I knew i didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for somebody. Then I met my boyfriend Alexander Rohling and very soon I learned that he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I had been thinking about leaving Stephex for already quite some time and then all the pieces just found their place.We moved together and our company Finca-Horses was found. I´m very busy with all the new adventures in my life and very excited of the horses I have now to ride. Of course I would have prefered to continue riding the top horses Talent and Mouse. But in life you can´t always have what you want and you have to be brave enough to leave some things behind you to be able to find new ones in front of you.


Do you miss riding such talented horses like Mouse and Talent?

I rode them for several years and developed them all the way to be competitive in the 5* level. They will always have a special place in my heart. I like to follow their results and I´m happy that they are both doing well.


You are now at the site of Eric Levallois… How do you like the place?

I was very suprised when Eric called me and told that he was looking for a rider and asked if I would be interested. I had seen him and his team at the Oliva tour in Valencia a few weeks earlier and spoken a bit with him. I was riding there the horses of Finca and some other ones from a few different owners but I didn’t have a horse experienced enough to jump the big classes. However I enjoyed watching the sunday GP’s and one of them I watched with Eric and saw also the stallion Quebracho Semilly jumping. It was one of the best horses of the class! I couldn’t have imagined that one month later Iwould be the rider! We have now been here in Normandy for about 2 months so the change was really fast. We are really enjoying the stay here.The stable is wonderful and the area is breathtaking. It´s so beautiful with the green landscape, mountains, farms, horses and cows in the fields. I also learned that here they have a show almost every day.The young horses go in the week and the open nationals in the weekends. We never need to drive far for a show. There is also a lot of nice internationals in a short distance. Me, Alex and Tiina(my long time groom) have settled very well in France. Eric is a great horseman and it is an honour to work with somebody like him.


How would you consider the development of your own business while the first year?

Its almost a year and a half since I left Stephex. A lot has happened in a short time. Today I have the life I always dreamed of. I wake up next to the person I love and I have a very interesting string of horses to ride and develop. I think joining up with a professional like Eric will bring me back to the top level very soon.


Which is your top-horse at the moment?

 At the moment the best horse of the stable is  Quebracho Semilly. He is a very talented 9-year old stallion by Le Tot de Semilly.


What are your plans for this year? Will you go to Herning?

This year in the outdoor season the plan is to be competitive in 3* level. In the indoor season I would like to do some shows of the world cup circuit. And  if everything goes well the main goal for next year is world championships in Normandy.


What is the fascination of horses for you?

I think its just amazing what the horses are capable of doing. I love the beauty and power of these wonderful animals. It is very unique that they can be trained and that you are able to develop such a connection with them, that sometimes it feels like they can read your mind.


When did you start riding? Have you always been in love with horses?

I have always loved horses. My mother is a rider and brought me to the stables in a very early age. We didnt have own horses but somehow always got horses to take care of and even to ride. I was passionated of the horses and that was noticed.There has been many great people along the jourhey who have helped me.


Was it difficult to come into the big sport being a young woman from Finland?

I think a young woman from an unknown riding country like Finland needs to be very tough to brake in to the big sport. You don´t have the support of the team members. Specially at first you are very alone and lonely. There isn´t anybody to really help you or to be your friend. You need to earn the respect. I have been lucky to have such great mentor as Trevor Coyle helping me. He taught me a great deal about show jumping and also about life.


What was the greatest moment in your career for you? A moment you always remember?

It´s hard to name one special moment over others. One is for sure when we won the pair competition with Eric Lamaze in Paris Grand Palais. He was riding Hickstead and I was riding Talent. The atmosphere was unbelievable and I was so honoured to be winning with such a great rider as Eric. Eric has helped me a lot in my carreer by training me and I have also ridden and competed his horses. So to win such class together was very special. I remember his words to me before the class: “You can do it, Tiger” and we did!

Winning the 5* GP in Mechelen in 2011 was also something special. It was Vivas first 5* GP and it was a really fast jump off. I was supposed to go safe and clear but after I got a nice forward stride to the first and the second fence and I didn´t slow down anymore! That was our night. It felt like winning in front of the home crowd. I had the full support from the public even my winning left Jos Lansink second.

The first big GP I won was in Italy. That was my first show so far from home and a lot of good riders were there. The show was  La Bagnaia 4* and the horse I rode was a lovely stallion called Kelvin de ste Hermelle. When the last rider had a rail down on the last fence I couldn’t believe that I had won.That was an unbelivable feeling!


How does a typical day at your barn look like for you?

I go to the stables between 8 and 8.30 except when we go to ride on the beach and let the horses walk in the water. Then we usually leave at 7. It´s a great excercise for the horses. We go there once or twice a week. The rest of the day I ride and train the horses. I ride approximately 8 horses a day. Lately it has been more since I like to get to know all the new horses. I like to keep them happy with the work so I change every day their work. They do dressage, jump, go on the race track, we walk with them up and down the nearby mountain and sometimes they are longed. All the horses get out 3-4 times a day so it´s a lot of work. I try to be finished at 6 o´clock but lately its been closer to 9…We like to take care of our 4 own horses together with Alex and thats normally the last thing in the evening. Brushing and grooming them is very relaxing.


If you are not in the saddle what do you like to do?

I like reading and learning new things. I also love yoga. Whenever I am close to a yoga studio I take part in the class. I´m still trying to find one close to Deauville where we are based.


Do you have a special philosophy in life?

Enjoy life! Do things you like to do and always search for the 100% happiness!


If you had one wish to be fulfilled, what would it be?

To find the harmony in life…. I think I´m close to that…



Interview: Alexandra Koch

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