Marcus Ehning, aiming for perfection

September  - If God had to shape the idea of horsemanship he would probably choose Marcus Ehning. The German rider is commonly renowned to be close to perfection in the saddle and the entire show jumping world looks up to him as “simply the best”. Aged forty years old, he continues to be at the highest level. Fresh winner of the Vienna Grand Prix with Plot Blue, in the last leg of the Global Champions Tour, Marcus, number four in the world ranking, has had a good season, finishing 10th in the individual ranking of the World Equestrian Games in Normandy this month.

Marcus, it seemed you could be in the final four in Normandy…

Yes, I had a good start in the speed class on the first day. Then I had five penalties on the two rounds in the team classes and other four penalties on the two individual rounds. It was difficult to be in the Final Four but I was satisfied with my championship.

What do you think about this World Equestrian Games edition?

I think it was good. I enjoyed everything about it: the facilities were great and I was pleased by the French public too. There was a very warm atmosphere entering the arena. A good feeling to be welcomed that way.

What do you think about the courses in Caen?

I think we had some fair courses, and very technical. Maybe on the first day Frédéric Cottier took it too much on the soft side but he had to deal with many “new” riders coming from all over the world.

Are you satisfied with Cornado’s performance?

He behaved fantastic in Caen as he did in the World Cup final in Lyon where we ended fourth. I was slightly worried here because it was outdoor and Cornado is very powerful and can become not so easy to control. But he managed to use his strength positively and stayed focused during the whole championship.

What about your season with your top horses?

I must say I had a very good one with both: Cornado and Plot Blue. They jumped really well the entire season, but at the end I decided to ride Cornado in the World Championship.

How did the German team prepare for the WEG?

We know each other since a lifetime and it’s easy for us four to “feel” as a team, because we have always been a team. This summer we spent some days together. I think we went back home disappointed by our final result. We wanted a medal, as we got it in Kentucky four years ago. We qualified for the Olympics at least but that was taken for granted. I must say that Holland was incredible. We had a great show.

Sport and politics are always connected. What is your opinion about their links and contrasts?

I think it is quite obvious, sometimes they meet, sometimes they don’t. To be honest I don’t like to be too much involved in these dynamics. I’m sure the Riders Club does an excellent job standing for our sport.

One of the more discussed topics is the one of the ranking list. Do you think the ranking needs some renovation in order to help the upcoming riders to be in the big shows?

I think the ranking reflects sufficiently the actual situation of our sport and I guarantee that is difficult enough to stay in the first thirty positions too. It is true that the Global has a complete different system but we have enough space for everybody through the Nations Cup. If you have the talent you will always find the way to stand out in Europe.

What about wild cards: some riders are against, others in favour. Is this system fair to you?

It is difficult to answer this question. Maybe it is not fair but it depends on what our sport is becoming nowadays. If we want to keep this level with this prize money, we need them.

Talking about the future generation, what should be in your opinion the steps to have future champions?

I’m sure that not a detail must be ignored. We have to work on many aspects to build a future winning generation. We have to start from the federations, which must invest money and ideas on the youngsters. With a structured and long-lasting program we can achieve our goals, without we go nowhere.

You have been training for three years the Championship’s discovery, the young talent Bertram Allen. His outstanding performance astonished everybody. Did you expect him to place in the 7th position in the final ranking, ahead of his master?

Bertram is not new in this world. I couldn’t predict the result but nothing was improvised. To perform with the team in a World Championship you must have good reasons to believe you will do well. He is an incredible talent and he has the temperament to become an experienced rider but then the experience will come along. He has to work a lot on dressage. As everybody, we can always improve ourselves.

Talking about even more younger rider, does your older daughter Yula ride?

She’s just five years old but, sure, she rides! She rides her pony and practices vaulting with her mother. Anyway I don’t want her to ride because I do. I just want to give her the opportunity to try and find she loves it. I never pushed her on riding.

In 2015 Aachen will host the European Championship, and in 2016 will have the Olympics in Brazil. Are you looking forward to these great events?

I don’t plan so far in my calendar. This year I was focused on my Normandy schedule and now I will prepare for the indoor season. Everything depends on how things will work out, now it is too early to say something reasonable. Now I have to look straight to Barcelona.

Barbara Leoni