Well as you may very well know, Emilie Martinsen (DEN) has changed trainers recently. Emilie has been training for a very long time with Hendrik Gunderson, a well-known Danish trainer based in Wellington, FL but now has made the recent transition to famed Olympian Norman Dello Joio. A decision she came to during the World Cup event in Washington, only weeks ago. Emilie will join Tim Gredley (GBR), who also trains with the well-known American Olympian.
Alvaro de Miranda, the world’s top ranking Brazilian rider at number 23, along with his wife Athina Onassis, have recently been working with Ludger Beerbaum. Doda, who wants to increase his competitive edge and keep pushing his way up the rankings has sought the training and advice from the 4 time Olympic medalist and 6 time European Champion. Already moving from 30th to 23rd spot since the last rankings list was published, his decision is clearly paying off.
So, why is it that some top ranking riders continuously seek assistance from the ground while others rely singularly on their own “inner” coach? Is it a reflection of their own natural talent or does it possibly have something to do with confidence. Perhaps it fundamentally boils down to the desire to be better, improve and learn from those around you as much as you can. As Sergio Alvarez Moya explained when we spoke in Lyon, it is important to improve and learn from those around you.
What is clear is that this sport has always maintained a myriad of opinions and approaches to success. While George Morris may feel faint watching France’s Roger Yves Bost unorthodox technique, one cannot argue with his results let alone his current World ranking, at number 14.
Let’s look at the 2010 World Cup Finals. Germany’s epitomy of subtle technique and textbook style, Marcus Ehning, beat his fellow countryman, Ludger Beerbaum, and Swiss speed demon Pius Schwizer to win the 2010 FEI World Cup. Now despite what you might think, Ehning has been training with Henk Nooren longer then he has been internationally recognized. Marcus and Henk went their separate ways once, however, the separation did not do wonders for the famous German jockey. Despite Henk remarking on Marcus’ superior knowledge and regarding his ability as far exceeding any required assistance, it was clear to all, including Marcus, that Henk was a vital part of his recipe for success.
At 38 years old and number 7 in the world, Marcus Ehning doesn’t do much without the consultation of Henk Nooren, despite his overwhelming knowledge and experience, this jockey has very clearly chosen to offer his ear to the well-known Dutch trainer.
So with that in mind, I wonder what is it about Norman, Henk, Luder and Neco that make them so good at training the best in the world. Yes, surely their own personal success as riders plays a part, but what is it about their technique that creates results and gets the top riders in the world coming back?
So, who amongst the best riders are the best trainers you might ask. Well, Henk Nooren, who trains Marcus, also trains Kevin Staut, Penelope Leprevost and Simon Delestre. Ludger Beerbaum is another well known rider who offers his services as a trainer on the side. The German Olympian has worked with many notable riders, some of which include Phillipp Weishaupt, Marco Kutscher and Henrik von Eckermann.
Albert Voorn, Neco Pessoa and Norman Dello Joio are also amongst those who find themselves at the in gate of the international area, advising the best of the best.
So I asked a few riders, how they would describe these famous trainers. What is it that makes the best at training the best?
Samantha Lam, rider for the 2008 Hong Kong team in Beijing as well as one of the youngest riders to ever attend the World Cup finals for Canada, spoke fondly of Neco Pessoa. Samatha has trained with Neco for sometime and regards him as her longtime mentor and friend. When I asked Samantha what made Neco such a famous and successful trainer of top international riders, she described him as a great observer. “He can really observe the rider and the horse as individuals.” She emphasized his individual approach to each rider and how he finds the right technique for each horse and rider combination. “And he is such an awesome person!”
I asked Tim Gredley what it is about Norman Dello Joio that makes him a successful trainer and so widely sought after as an addition to some top international rider’s ringside entourage. He described Norman as very straight forward trainer. Tim, who has made quite the return to the sport after a short absence, has been working with the American Olympian for 2 months now and has nothing but good things to say about Dello Joio. “He speaks honestly and tells it how it is” says Tim. Describing Norman’s straight forward and simple technique to training as very effective. Management of the horses was another element that Tim describes as key to a competitive program. Gredley, who describes how fantastic his horses are feeling at the moment, agrees that Norman’s knowledge, experience and managerial skills are one of the contributing factor’s to his international success as a go-to trainer for top riders based in the States.
So, what do Norman, Ludger, Neco and Henk all have in common? Well besides being older men with a lot of experience, they have strong careers behind them. They have a list of achievements that unsubtly suggest they know what they’re talking about. It seems so simple and obvious, but the best trainers chosen by the best riders in the world seem to have one thing in common… a great career themselves.
Simple and straight forward advise as well as thoroughly thought out training regimes are the key to the respect these men have earned within the industry, that and a long list of students’ results that mirror there own.
So, whether a top ranking rider decides to take on a trainer or not seems to be a matter of personal preference. Whether an experienced trainer such as Neco Pessoa could improve every international rider’s competitive edge is up for debate. But perhaps what is clear, is next time your by the warm up ring or perhaps at the in-gate, take a seat and take notes for these guys know what they’re talking about.