Peder Fredricson: Not your average equestrian
Style icon, two-time Olympic silver medalist, yogi, European champion, family man.
Peder Fredricson is used to playing many roles.
But the Swede has not lost sight of what's most important in the equestrian world.
"We must never forget that horses are living, breathing animals - the horses always come first", Fredricson told one of his sponsors in an interview back in April.
He wears those words like an insignia, with that deep respect carrying him into the top 10 in the world rankings.
Aiming for the top
With the retirement of jumping great and Rio 2016 champion Nick Skelton, it's natural that much is expected of Fredricson in the future.
But success isn't everything, and Fredricson is acutely aware of the dangers of chasing the number one spot:
"When you start rising on the ranking, of course you’ll want to continue all the way to the top. But we must never forget that horses are living, breathing animals. There will be times when your horse needs a break. The ranking can’t become an obsession – the horses always come first."
Fredricson began his Olympic career in Barcelona 1992 where he competed in eventing for Sweden, but showed his versatility by switching to equestrian jumping.
The move was inspired by an offer from a clothing brand which allowed him to turn a love of horses into a professional, international career.
With a team jumping silver medal at Athens 2004 and an individual jumping silver at Rio 2016 already in the bank, the apex of an already sparkling trajectory would be to go one better at Tokyo 2020.
A family affair
The reigning European champion is married to fellow Olympic show jumper Lisen Bratt Fredricson, an IOC Role Model and show organiser who, he says, inspires him everyday.
They met in Stockholm while Peder was working in the Queen’s Royal Stables, marrying in 2001.
Now they have three children and live on the Grevlunda Estate on the outskirts of Kivik, Osterlen, overlooking the Baltic Sea.
What used to be the family fruit farm before 2001 is now is an Olympic-class training ground for horses and equestrian champions thanks to his vision and meticulous planning.
”I’m a strategist. I enjoy planning both long-term and short-term, not getting too caught up in the here and now”, says Peder.
The same approach he uses when it's competition time.
Top 5: Individual jump-offs at the Olympics
Top 5: Individual jump-offs at the OlympicsWhen the jumps are high but the stakes are even higher...we look at some of the most dramatic jump-offs from Olympic equestrian history.
Prized horse All In is to Fredricson what Big Star was to Nick Skelton, what Charisma is to Mark Todd, and Bella Rose to Isabell Werth.
The 12-year-old gelding he built his career on was spotted in Belgium at the World Breeding Championships with ‘Allan’ coming to Grevlunda as a seven-year-old.
All In was the only horse in Rio who did not make a single error over all six rounds at the Rio Olympics.
“It’s an incredible feeling when you know you’ve found THE one,” Peder told Horse Canada magazine in February. “You just never want to get off.”
The extraordinary connection between horse and master is clear from their closeness - they sleep 30 metres from each other at Grevlunda.
Unfortunately, a minor lameness was discovered in All In's back in December 2017.
Despite All In returning to training in April, Fredricson opted to ride Christian K at WEG.
The Swede said previously of his favourite mount, "his health goes ahead of any show so we take it one day at a time".
Fredricson and Christian K helped Sweden to World Equestrian Games silver in team jumping although it was a heartbreaker after losing out to the United States in a jump-off.
Fredricson was out of luck in the individual competition in Tryon, North Carolina, finishing tied for 19th after having two fences down.
Yoga the key to Olympian's success?
The Olympic silver medallist is just as concerned with his health as his horses, performing a yoga workout "at least five mornings a week":
"It’s such a good way to start the day – I do it even before I check my phone in the morning. It helps me prepare mentally and take control of the day before it starts, before people start asking things from me.”
The action does not let up for Fredricson with the Nations Cup Final taking place in Barcelona in two weeks.
Having performed well for much of the weekend on Christian K, he must decide whether now is the time to get back on All In.
It's a poser he may well face again at Tokyo 2020.