20 Questions With Swedish Dressage Rider Patrik Kittel

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t was a premonition of sorts that first sparked Patrik Kittel’s equestrian ambitions, not just to ride professionally, but to compete for Sweden in the Olympic Games. Decades later, Patrik has achieved that goal – three times, in fact – having represented his country in the Beijing, London, and Rio Olympic Games.

Patrik has also appeared in three FEI World Equestrian Games™, including the most recent in Tryon, N.C., where he finished fourth individually aboard Well Done de la Roche CMF. Team Sweden also finished fourth. 

Along with wife Lyndal Oatley (who competed in dressage for Australia in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games), Patrik runs Outstanding Stables in Nottuln, Germany, where the couple operates a successful training and sales business.

From staying grounded to his favorite celebrity, here are Patrik’s answers to our twenty questions quiz.

1. At what exact moment did you fall in love with horses?

My first girlfriend had some ponies and I started riding with her and I loved it at once! I came home to my Mummy and told her I wanted to go to the Olympics. She said 'follow your heart', and I did. 

2. For riding, do you prefer black boots or brown boots?

For training, I have all sorts of colored boots, but for shows only black and well-polished.

3. If you could do any other equestrian discipline what would it be and why?

I have tried a bit of everything and I love all different types of riding – I even did some Western riding at Equitana one year. I always say, stay open and have fun in all disciplines.

Meet the once unwanted mustang turned Horse of the Year who excells at dressage in both English and Western saddles.

4. What is the most embarrassing thing to have ever happened to you while riding?

I don’t know, they keep coming all the time! [Laughs] My first dressage horse did not want to jump, and I did this really easy jumping course, and I fell off at every fence. I climbed back up again until they had to tell me to leave the arena as they were getting behind and would have a big delay. I refused and they had to force me out all angry and dirty… I have always been a 'never give up' type of person.

In dressage, I have ridden the wrong way four times! I’ve been eliminated for it, oops. But I believe mistakes make you better so you live and you learn.

Photo by Sportfot.

5. What is the most inspiring thing to have ever happened to you while riding?

There are so many things! Horses inspire me every day. I love educating horses and trying to create a future and partnership with that horse. For me, one big highlight was earning a medal in the freestyle in Rotterdam in 2011, but I am also proud of educating and bringing up more than 45 horses to grand prix.

6. What is one of your favorite #TwoHearts moments of your career?

Cantering around with Scandic at his farewell in Falsterbo in the big grass stadium – that I will never forget! Doing his Depeche Mode freestyle for a full house of people with everyone clapping was really amazing. And I cried like a baby afterward.

7. What was the hardest lesson you have had to learn in your riding?

That not everyone loves you. I know that might sound naive, but when I started riding I thought everyone wanted to help improve [one another], but I learned that, sadly, that is not the case. You have to toughen up a lot and it does change you. Thanks to my family and friends I am still the same person I was 20 years ago when I started this wonderful life with horses. I never regretted a day!

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8. Who is your mentor and why?

My mentor is Kjell Enhager. He is sort of a life coach. He is just an extremely special person and he brings you lots of good feelings. And of course, my wife Lyndal, who always says things the way they are but in the kindest way.

9. If you could ride a horse from the past, who would it be?

There are so many. Totilas I think, who still gives me goosebumps, but I can list about 50 horses. Every horse that makes it to this level is so special.

10. If you could ride a horse right now, that is not your own, who would it be?

I think Dorothee Schneider’s Showtime FRH, who looks so soft.

11. How do horses keep you grounded in the industry that you live and work in?

Oh, that is easy. Horses keep you grounded because you’re a star today and tomorrow you’re gone. My first boss always said [pride] comes before the fall. I will never forget that.

Photo by Sportfot.

12. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

My wife.

13. When were you most happy on a horse?

Every day. If you are not happy with your horse, why do it?

14. If your horses were a famous person, who would they be?

They are all different! But if there is someone I admire myself, it’s Adele. Pure talent.

15. What is one piece of riding clothing or equipment you could never do without?

My total collection of Cavalleria Toscana, the best clothes ever. They are stylish and still very comfortable.

16. What is your helmet of choice and why?

Samshield. Mr. Sam has been a true sponsor to me for many, many years and the helmets are not just good-looking, they are safe and feel great.

Check out our Samshield collection in NF.shop!

17. Which famous clothing brand do you wish would come out with an equestrian line?

Tom Ford. I love his clothes for non-horsey style.

18. What is your biggest splurge to date when it comes to your riding and/or horses?

I don’t know what a splurge is… I must be getting old…

19. What is the best piece of riding advice you have ever received?

I’ve had many but I think the best advice is to stay humble for yourself and your horses. Listen only to those you know want you to do well. Be willing to change and get better every single day. Never give up.

20. What is your life motto?

You only live once so use every day to make it the best you can and stay happy.

Read this next: No Point Left Behind: 5 Changes to the National Dressage Tests (and How to Ride Them Right)

Feature photo by Judith Kuivenhoven.

Written by Nina Fedrizzi

Nina Fedrizzi spends her days writing about horse sport, food, and travel. She began her career at Travel + Leisure and is a former editor at NF Style. When she's not tapping away on her MacBook, Nina can usually be found on a horse, sleuthing out the local pho, or refusing to unpack her carry-on. Watch her do all three on Instagram @ninafedrizzi.