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When it comes to photos, we all know they say more than words (one thousand, to be exact). 2018 was a monumental year for horse sport, and the photos have told the stories of the riders, horses, and moments that words alone simply can't do justice. As we kick off the new year, we're looking back on the top ten photos from the inaugural year of NF.insider – those up close and personal few seconds where something special was captured through the lens.

Reflecting on the past few months is the perfect way to get clearer on where we're going: our mission for 2019 (and beyond) is to evolve and adapt NF.insider to be the ultimate destination for education, intimate conversations, and unparalleled inside access. We're listening to what you want, what you love, what you hate – and we're changing accordingly. The new NF.insider will kick off with a clear focus on value for your life with horses, both in and out of the saddle. From in-depth educational series with leading experts on mental skills, mindset, and training to one of a kind digital clinics with the world's top coaches, up close and personal 'what it felt like' articles penned by top riders, to regular Q&A columns where they answer your questions directly, live streaming videos behind the scenes at shows and 'two truths and a lie' with your favorite athletes in the private Facebook group, NF.insider is stepping into its next evolution: one where we craft every single piece of content just for you.

Today, it's time to celebrate the moments that made 2018 great:

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“... handsome, clever, and rich… seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence.”

This statement, the opening paragraph of Jane Austen’s classic novel “Emma”, could, at first glance, sum up Swedish eventer Ludwig Svennerstal rather than Austen's title character. The UK-based rider – who achieved his dream of riding at the Olympics way back in London at only 21-years-old – now has his sights set on a third go at the Olympic Games, this time in Tokyo in the year 2020. With around 12 horses to compete at the advanced level next year – half his string – from which he will whittle down his choice for Tokyo 2020, he seems like a fortunate young man indeed.

What makes him much more interesting is that, in just a handful of years, he has turned his youthful passions into a properly successful business. Ludwig has approached the sport of eventing, which is light years behind most sports in terms of financially viable professional careers for its participants, with a combination of business skills, a vision of the future, and horsemanship – and he’s thriving.

 

BUILDING A BUSINESS

How has he carved out so much success at such a young age in a sport where so many others face so much difficulty?

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These days, Mel Borrego makes a living caring for some of the most elite equine athletes in the world. But while he’s always chosen to spend his time in the company of horses, Mel says he fell into the show jumping world mostly by chance.

“I’ve been [in] the industry since around 1990. I grew up in Colorado and we did rodeo stuff there, and then I worked at a racehorse farm, and then I think I just sort of happened into the show jumping. I’d leave and come back, and leave and come back,” Mel says.

About a decade ago, Mel found a solid position within the world of show jumping, working for Mario and Lisa Deslauriers, taking a grooming job for their daughter, Lucy, who was then just eight years old. “I watched her grow up,” Mel says. “She started in the ponies, and then to the equitation, and now onto the big stuff,” he adds with pride, noting, unprompted, that the up-and-coming rider is “obviously, the nicest kid on the planet.”

Lucky for us, Mel shares his knowledge, know-how, and years of experience as a groom and all around horseman with the NF.insider community, so we can all carry a little bit of Mel wisdom with us around the barn.

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n preparation for the WEG, Lorenzo had to make up for lost time with Irenice, a Stephex ride he took over in June after her former partner, Belgium’s Zoé Conter, who produced the mare from a seven-year-old, was injured. At CHIO Aachen this summer, the pair was unexpectedly thrown into the deep end.

“When I was in Aachen [with Irenice], it was our third show, and I was just supposed to do, like, two classes. But then we were missing a fourth rider, so I had to jump the Nations Cup!” laughs Lorenzo, who finished on zero and four faults for the team. “I actually felt comfortable, though, because I had a really good feeling. In that big ring, she felt comfortable, and she doesn’t look at anything.

“At the WEG, [there were] so many walls and strange jumps, and she didn’t look even once. She’s just straightforward – and [also] scopey and careful for sure.”

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Ashlee Harrison has broken a longstanding stereotype in the sport of show jumping: After stepping away from the industry for nearly a decade to pursue a degree and a business career, the 31-year-old has returned to achieve her best successes in the saddle to date.

As only a student could, the British rider has set calculated tests for herself at every juncture of her comeback, and she’s aced every one. On her first year competing on the Longines Global Champions Tour’s (GCT) two-star circuit, Ashlee won two ranking classes at Madrid with her own Atout des Trambles and Zahra II. Training under the tutelage of Joris van Helmond of VHL Stables, she also earned her first grand prix placings with top 10 finishes at both Madrid and Rome.

“I think this is the first year where we made a plan, and while we got a bit right and left from it here and there, everything we wanted to set out to get, we got,” Ashlee says. “I only just started doing the GCT this year, and we seem to have good shows [there]. It’s an amazing stage to be and do well at.”

 

Photos by Sportfot.

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