A Conversation With Marcus Ehning
There are few competitors entered in the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final who have more experience under their belt than Marcus Ehning of Germany. He is one of only three riders to capture the World Cup Final trophy three times, and as one of the enduring faces of international show jumping, his perspective on the sport on any given week is never anything less than respected, and insightful.
We caught up with Ehning on the eve of the final rounds that will determine this year’s World Cup Final winner. He was in a different position than in years past –outside of the top 25- with a younger, up and coming horse to jump in Las Vegas this year. But for Ehning, it’s all part of the plan – and when he approaches a week’s competition at any given time throughout the year, he takes the results as they come and always keeps looking ahead. Read on:
Q: Let’s talk about this week’s competition at the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. What were your feelings on the first two rounds?
A: Maybe I think I’m the wrong person to ask because I was struggling with the first round!
I was not really happy with them. On the first day you did not see the really good rounds from a few horses that can jump a World Cup Final. The beginning was quite hard with the first double, and a few strange turns. And on [Thursday], the last line was totally unnecessary for me. It was a bit more like a joke with too many hard falls. The result at the end with six clear rounds was perfect. But the way it went it was not really nice.
A: Yes, it can be more technical, it can be bigger, and if you can handle it as a rider and have a possibility to handle it in a good way, then it’s totally fine. But on Thursday, even if you were a really top, top rider it was a bit of luck to catch the vertical just right, and then it was impossible to get to the triple very straight, and I think that was a bit unfair. You’d see a few really struggling, and we didn’t need this.
As far as it being late in the course, [the triple combination] had nothing to do with the point of where it was built in the course, but how it was built.
Q: Are you willing to make any predictions on the pair who has the strongest chance to win going into the final rounds?
A: I hope that Bertram is winning because I help him a bit, but for sure it’s really interesting because the first three are really close, so we will see. I think we will have good sport.
Q: As a past winner of the Final, in the Las Vegas venue (2003, Anka), what advice would you give to a competitor –such as Bertram- who is dealing with this environment for the first time?
A: He’s a really young guy, but he’s very good in his mind. It’s not that he won a world championship before, he won a few World Cups this year and he has an experienced horse and knows what he’s doing. I don’t have to really give him a lot of advice. I hope I can help him with a few small points, for his age he really stands alone.
I think I was in the same situation when I was really young, but Bertram already had experience in the ponies and juniors. He is very straight in his mind and very clear in what he is doing. Every week we have a small ring, he does not have to learn that, he is in really good shape. Sometimes when you are younger, you don’t think about what can happen.
Q: In regards to your World Cup Final victories, achieved with four different horses, if you could have one of those horses back in your stable to compete at this year’s WCF, which horse would you choose and why?
A: The question is not really for me because you know Anke was now 12 years ago and it’s now a different sport. For sure Sandro Boy could still stay on this level, and Plot Blue I still have him, he could also. Also Cornado I could jump here, but I think with those horses I would also be competitive at this time.
Q: What led to your decision not to bring Cornado to the World Cup Final this year?
A: That’s easy to answer because we have the European championships this year in Aachen and the first Aachen is already entered in May. And as a German in Germany I want to be well prepared, so I start with him soon. The break after the Final was too short. And also as I said I like to give him a break, make a good plan, he had a long break before, so I had a fresh horse. Last year I could do both because we had more time in between, and this year I had to decide to not do it.
For me both [shows] are important, but this year the European Championships are extremely important because it’s in Germany, it’s in the best show in the world. You can’t match Aachen with anything else.
Q: Bringing a younger horse (Singular LS Silla, a 9-year-old stallion by Chapultepec la Silla) to WCF must be a different feeling than your past experiences. Can you explain how it feels?
A: It’s a different situation but I know already before I’m not one of the favorites and it was ok for me. At the end I expect more, but it was just one jump and one small, inexperienced moment that made the first day already gone. So I am happy.
He is now nine and I got him the middle of his seventh year. He was bred in Mexico, and the owner asked me nearly two years ago if I would ride him. From there it’s gone on with him.
I was just coming here to get experience, and ok it didn’t work for me the first day, but also it was not a huge problem, it’s not that he got scared or something. This horse has a really big future in front of him.