Riders’ Stories: Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, a champion with great class

A reference point for world show jumping, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson is a wise and sensitive man and rider, an excellent competitor with a strong personality and a special kind of charisma that makes him one of the most respected men and riders in the equestrian world. The great Swedish champion has once again returned to be a team member at the most important events, adding even more value to one of the strongest nations in the world: Sweden. We met him in Riesenbeck during the European Championships and his thoughts on the sport as it is at the moment provide us with important ideas as well as helping us understand how and why a rider becomes a champion and remains one forever. The correct management of horses is what lies at the basis of all this, with the slow evolution of a farsighted programme that takes their needs into account. And the end of the day that is the only ‘secret’…

After winning team bronze in 2013 in Herning riding Casall ASK, Bengtsson returned to the European Championships in Riesenbeck riding Ermindo W, the same horse he had ridden in the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. In 2021 he also competed in 5* shows in Rotterdam, Stockholm and St. Gallen returning to top sport, while in the meantime continuing to produce his young horses.

Food for thought

Generally speaking, Sweden is always at the top, not only as far as the technical aspects of riding are concerned, but also in horse management, because the welfare and a good life of horses are the first objectives in the riders’ way of living this sport: “I believe it’s very important – commented Bengtsson - When a horse loves what it is doing and does its very best for its rider one must keep it happy and not take advantage of it! The risk involved is that of riding in too many shows, so it becomes difficult to have enough horses to be everywhere, riding in big classes, while also always being competitive. It is hard to remain high up on the ranking list and there are many reasons for which everyone says ‘you need to go’, ‘you need to go’, ‘you need to go’... I think that if you can save your horses a little, then they will have a longer career and a good life. They stay with you longer and, if you have a really good one, of course you will want to keep it for as long as possible, because we all know how difficult it is to find good horses. But people have different mentalities and are different regards to how willing they are to compete really hard or maybe choose to say ‘I will risk everything and shorten my horse’s career’. I think it’s a good thing now for people to see that riders who are really good can stay at the top even with horses they have for a long time and manage really well. I think that good management and taking care of our horses in the best possible way is a priority.”

Rolf-Göran Bengtsson already has an extraordinary curriculum:

5 Olympic Games winning individual silver in Beijing in 2008 riding Ninja La Silla and team silver in Athens in 2004 on Mac Kinley.

4 World Championships

9 World Cup Finals

10 European Championships winning individual Gold in Madrid in 2011 riding Ninja La Silla, individual bronze and team silver in 2001 at Arnhem on Isovlas Pialotta, team bronze in 2013 at Herning 2013 on Casall ASK.

2 Nations Cup Finals.

To all these medals one must add a vast number of Grands Prix and Nations Cup wins all over the world.