It was announced this week that German event rider Julia Krajewski’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ mount, Chipmunk FRH, will henceforth be ridden by fellow countryman Michael Jung.
In an exclusive interview with NoelleFloyd.com, Julia explained her feelings on the sale and reflects on the past years with Chipmunk, with whom she first partnered in 2012 when the Hanoverian gelding was just four years old.
Maybe adaptability comes with age. It doesn’t matter if you’re an eventing rider, a show jumper, or a dressage rider – I think you inevitably have to take a lot of knocks and setbacks along the way to success. I’ve spent the last part of my career building a balance of teaching and riding, and one of the most important things I’ve learned is that you have to be able to adapt and overcome.
As we prepare to begin the new season in earnest, I’ve had to rethink my plans, which originally included Chipmunk. Maybe this is something I’ve been preparing for, without meaning to, by learning how to take one step at a time and trust in the process. What I do know is this: my stable will look much different without Chipmunk, but I am, at the same time, so grateful to have spent the last six years with him.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman.
Chipmunk has always been very brave, very kind, and very genuine. He came to me at the end of his four-year-old year, and he always gave me the feeling that something big would be possible. He’s like a puppy in the stable, and you can never be cross with him for long after you look at his face!
"My stable will look much different without Chipmunk."
We did everything together, from step one on. It was very appropriate that he would be my first horse to take to the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG), and this year I thought maybe we would go to Badminton. I will admit, going to Badminton or to Burghley has always been a bit scary of a thought as I am, truthfully, not the bravest in the world. But on Chipmunk, I always felt he had the most scope and the biggest heart, and that with him it was possible.
My most cherished memory will always be our win in the Aachen CICO3* last summer, and not just because of the win. I had been eliminated on my other horse, Samourai du Thot, and so I went out very determined on Chipmunk, feeling that I might have something to prove (at least to myself). Chipmunk can be quite excitable and sensitive in a bigger atmosphere, so I was immensely proud of him for how he rose to the occasion in that massive arena. It was such a huge effort in front of that crowd of spectators. I’ll never forget that feeling.
While our trip to America to compete for Germany at WEG did not go exactly to plan, sometimes you have to take the positives out of the experience. It takes a bit of time to get there. I’d never had an issue on cross-country with Chipmunk like the one I had at WEG, and if I could do it again I would ride the line differently. But that is the thing about this sport: you can plan perfectly, down to the last detail, and then it can all be gone in a second. I think this is why it’s important not to get stuck on the winning. There are always good things to take away and to build on for the future.
Photo by Alison Green for Shannon Brinkman.
I would be lying if I said there weren’t times when I asked myself why on earth I do this sport. But in the end, I just really love to ride and to work with horses, and I seem to have some talent for it. It’s something that really makes me happy, and for that reason I’m willing to adapt and deal with challenges. After all, if you’re not able to make something out of a setback or overcome it, you have a problem.
As Chipmunk moves on to his new home with Michael Jung, I wish them both the most successful of careers together. With the European Championships at Luhmühlen this year, I will do everything I can do to prepare and qualify my other two horses (Samourai du Thot and Amande de B’Neville). In fact, Samourai has been very successful at Luhmühlen before, so I think this may suit us well.
"I would be lying if I said there weren’t times when I asked myself why on earth I do this sport."
I’ve never been one to want a large string of horses to compete. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy my time teaching so much. I think it’s important to have an individual program with each horse, and I love that I am able to spend quite some time with every one of them. I have maybe three to five horses in my stable at any given time, and I know them inside and out. More than anything – more than jumping around the big tracks or winning every event – I love the process of seeing a horse develop into an athlete over the years. It’s what I’ve done with almost all of my horses, and it’s what I’ll continue to do.
The other day, I finished a ride on one of my four year olds; he just so happens to be a full brother to Chipmunk and is so clever at learning new things. It was a nice reminder of why we’re all doing this, or at least why I am doing this. With the young ones, little moments mean a big celebration. If they hack out without a spook, or pick up the correct lead right away, you celebrate it. It’s very rewarding. It’s nice to ride a horse that’s been produced, but I find I prefer when I know my horse for years. Riding my young ones is the perfect way to remember this.
[Former German eventing coach] Christopher Bartle always used to say, “luck is where preparation meets opportunity”, and I find this to be very true. I know I’ve had a bit of luck on my side to have had the successes I have, and I know I’m far from done.
Sometimes when you experience a challenge, it’s difficult to get back to your normal positive way of thinking. But you just keep to your routine, keep putting one foot in front of the other. One day, you suddenly find yourself making plans for the season, and you start thinking bigger. The competitiveness comes back and you’re back in the game. I try not to fixate too much on the idea of “I have to get to this goal”. I’d rather focus on the process, enjoy my time, and know that everything will fall into place if I just keep kicking.
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Feature photo by Sportfot.