Emma and the Norwegian Fjord horse Hudini have been together for seven years. Every time they show up at competitions, seeing them together impresses the audience. And with good reason. Hudini has a very special and very rare look and expression with his gray color and large movements. Find out what it is like to have a horse that everyone looks at in awe, and why that sometimes leads to a lot of pressure.
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HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN EQUESTRIAN SPORTS?
My interest comes from my beloved mother, who has almost always been a rider. Even while she was really pregnant with me. As clichéd as it sounds, you could say I was born on a horse. She later sold her own horse to be able to back me up 100% in my riding.
HOW DID YOU AND HUDINI BECOME PARTNERS?
Our collaboration actually started when my mom and I moved in with her (at the time) new husband. He had previously run a Fjord horse breeding on the property. There were still a number of Fjord horses, including Hudini, which had been purchased as a breeding stallion. After that, he didn’t do that much, and therefore I got the opportunity to start with him when he was 6 years old. Our story is most of all based on “coincidences” and luck.
WHICH DISCIPLINE DO YOU RIDE?
We ride primarily dressage. In my pony years, I was mostly a jumper and I still love it. Hudini has an incredible amount of talent for jumping. But after a minor tendon injury to a front leg that occurred in the field a few years back, I have been nervous that something was going to happen to the old injury. I will never get a horse of this caliber again, so I just want to take care of him.
WHAT LEVEL ARE YOU AT, OR IS IT MOSTLY JUST FUN?
For the last 3 years it has been a bit quiet for us. Partly because Hudini has had stomach ulcers after too strong medicine in connection with some itching, and partly because I have worked a lot. However, we have managed both. We are therefore working towards getting back to where we left off, namely Medium. At home, we also train a little piaffe, passage and have gradually started on a little work with pirouettes. I hope then that we will be able to take it to the next level (maybe higher) sometime in the future if he is up to it.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT HUDINI, THAT YOU FELL FOR?
Well look at him. Who does not fall for his appearance? He has not always had it easy and is very insecure about himself. It also allows means that he can drain my courage 200% because he can get a little skeptical. Therefore, I cannot say that it was his nice and kind nature that I fell for. But maybe a little anyway. He is a very difficult horse to get close to, and I probably just felt a little like “challenge accepted”. And no matter how many tears I have shed over him, he has given me so much more in return. I have gained a lot of self-insight and patience. And I have learned not to have any expectations for today’s ride. We take every day as it comes, and every step we take is a victory.
HOW DID YOU ALWAYS LOVE THE FJORD HORSE AS A RACE?
It started with some Fjord stallions receive training where I had a horse. I rode Danish warmblood and probably had a prejudice or two. But when I saw these horses go and even was allowed to try one out… I just had to let go of my prejudices. Everything I have thought about the little thick, yellow horses. Which, by the way, were not at all that small and thick anyway. They were beautiful and they were prosperous. And then they just had the nicest mind.
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WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT RIDING A FJORD HORSE?
It is such a versatile horse, who can do dressage, jumping, military, driving, western, handicap and probably many other things. A Fjord horse can walk in the field, walk in the backyard, you can ride it, it can be a mother’s dressage horse and at the same time be a daughter / son’s show jumper / tour horse or something else. A “true family horse”. Although they are often similar, they can be very different. It’s so cool, because then there is a Fjord horse for every taste and for every use.
Five years ago, I would have said that the hardest part about riding a Fjord horse was prejudice. But I do not quite think it is true any more. That is not to say that there are still no people who have prejudices. It’s definitely there. But in general, I think that the Fjord horse gets great praise wherever it comes.
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE CONSIDERING A FJORD HORSE?
I definitely thought people should decide why they are considering getting a Fjord horse. Is it for fun, breeding, sports, or something else? Even though the Fjord horse can actually do it all. As with all other horses, it is just important that you are realistic (in relation to budget and expectations). As well as critical in relation to health, usability, breed standard and any “errors” in e.g. color.
Color is not everything
Despite the fact that I know that a gray Fjord horse is beautiful, I do not think that you should select or deselect a horse because of its color. There are many years of hard and good breeding work behind the Fjord horses we have today. The quality of the horses is so high because the breeders have focused on putting together mares and stallions that can offset each other’s strengths and weaknesses – and not just on colors. One should choose a horse that suits one’s own needs and then refrain from thinking too much about the color.
WHAT SHOULD ONE PAY PARTICULARLY ATTENTION TO WHEN GETTING A FJORD HORSE?
I actually thought it was important to go through the same trade surveys as I would with any other horse / breed. Just because the breed is known to be healthy, strong and solid, it does not mean that they have no faults. At the same time, it is important to be aware that even though it is a frugal breed, it is of course still important that it is fed properly and cared for like all other breeds.
Hudini and Emma are training to get up to the same Medium level, they were at before Hudini was injured. Video: Private
WHAT IS THE BEST THING YOU AND HUDINI HAVE EXPERIENCED TOGETHER?
It is without a doubt the journey we have been on together. I started with a very insecure and sensitive horse. Now I can ride with balloons and umbrellas all around him. When I started with him, I could in no way push him just the slightest bit. I always had to wait until he volunteered. Now I can quietly show him the way, show him new exercises without him getting insecure and backing off. Every step we take together is a victory.
WHAT DO YOU DREAM OF ACHIEVING TOGETHER?
It could no doubt be fun to train Hudini for the Grand Prix. But my biggest dream is definitely to have the best journey on the way to that destination. Uh, it’s so complex. Not because I dare not dream, but I am nervous that my dreams may become an expectation. I will not allow myself to be disappointed with either the horse or myself if I do not achieve what I expected. The dream is to form an even closer ties with Hudini and through that bond get on a journey where we learn even more – and try even more things together. I probably do not dream of achieving anything. Only of a cool and amazing journey with my best friend, wherever it takes us.
IS HUDINI USED AS A BREEDING STALLION?
Hudini lost his mating permit at the age of four and can therefore not be used in breeding. At the time, the judges thought he had too small hind hooves, straight hocks, and his walk was too narrow. Since then, we have hoped to get him approved at home or abroad, but without success. Time has really just passed, and he is still a stallion. He is sweet and nice, easy to handle, and he can be with other horses. That way, neither he nor I have a problem with him being a stallion.
He lives his life as he would do as a gelding. I know that many people think it’s a shame to keep a horse as a stallion if he does not breed. But Hudini has already “sowed his oats”, and thus he would not forget it, even though he would be neutered. It is also good to have an older stallion to raise on the young warmblood stallion we have.
HUDINI IS A SPECIAL FJORD HORSE IN THE SENSE THAT HE HAS A VERY LARGE GAIT AND A SPECIAL COLOR. DO YOU EXPERIENCE PEOPLE COMMENT ON HIS EXPRESSION?
I am blown away by people’s sweet comments. He gets both compliments on his movements, his color and his type. And many are so sad that he is not beeing used as a breeding stallion. A woman once told me that she had seen pictures of Fjord horses in that color before, but she thought the pictures were edited to black and white, so the horse looked gray. She thought he was the most beautiful Fjord horse she had ever seen. I simply think it is the greatest thing when people give compliments and praise strangers and their horses. I hope they know how important this is to the recipient.
With praise and recognition comes pressure
I can feel that all the positive attention also increases the pressure on my performance. Because I have experienced riding around doing my warm-up and hearing people say: “Well, well now we know who is going to win”. But that’s actually not what I interest´s me. I care about having a great ride and having a relaxed and joyful horse. It’s just that as soon as Hudini enters the arena, it all often falls apart. Then my job is to put it all back together again.
We therefore often end up spending the test on some very basic things like finding peace and getting him to relax. It does not always look that good, which of course reflects in the test score. Although Hudini likes to show off during the warm-up, it does not mean that we get a particularly good ride in the arena. And that’s really what matters to me. Not so much what others think or believe.
If you want to know more about Emma and Hudini, you can find them on the instagram profile Tulstruplunds Hudini.