It has been almost two years since the last World Cup final. On April 7, 2019, Steve Guerdat rode Alamo (by Ukato) to victory in the World Cup final in Gothenburg.
With this, he joined the list of Marcus Ehning, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Rodrigo Pessoa, among others, who were each able to win the World Cup final three times. Steve Guerdat, who is still ranked number one in the world, has not had a chance to take a shot at his fourth world title for two years in a row now, which would be an absolute record. We spoke to Guerdat about his examples, how he deals with pressure and the horses that made his life easier (or just harder).
"Personally, I look up to Michael Jordan immensely," the Swiss number one of the world starts. "I've always been a big fan of sports in general and his story is really an inspiration. Jordan decided to quit several times, only to return each time at an even better level. Usually these "top athletes" are very good for a short time and peak for a few years in their career. With him, you were just never disappointed. Comeback after comeback; He made the most of it every time. For me he was a real example; he never gave up and as a child I looked up to him enormously".
"A rider I still look up to enormously is John Whitaker. Everything John does seems to be easy. I don't think he realizes himself what a superstar he really is, because with him everything goes so naturally. You can tell that horses are the most important thing to him. I think we share that philosophy and that inspires me as a rider. Whether I am someone that others look up to? For me, at least, it doesn't feel that way. I certainly don't consider myself 'the best'. Believe me: sometimes I still have the feeling that I don't really know what I'm doing. I still make so many mistakes, there are still so many working points.... So I find it strange that I would be placed on the same level as, say, John. I don't even think about being a hero, someone who inspires others".
My father has been a great influence in my career
"The biggest influence in my life is my father Philippe Guerdat. He always stayed somewhat in the background and let me do what I wanted. That's also one of the reasons we have such a strong bond, I think. Especially in the sport I've had a lot of help from him. In recent years, Thomas Fuchs has added to that," Steve says.
"I also couldn't do without my grooms Heidi and Emma, they have been working for me for a very long time and without them I would simply be lost," he laughs. "Horseback riding is actually a real team sport. For example, I have a rider at home, Anthony, who keeps my horses in the best condition. My vet and farrier, my owners, my family and friends,.... Without all of them, this simply would not be possible".
Horses give you so much and ask for nothing in return
"Why I love spending time with my horses? They give you so much and they literally ask for nothing in return. Of course we do our utmost to make sure they don't lack anything but actually they don't ask for that," Guerdat explains. "They are so loyal and would never cheat on you. I don't see horse riding as my job either. I realize that thanks to them I can live the most beautiful life".
All the horses I ride are special
"Which horse is the most special to me? All horses are special," he answers. "But Jalisca, for example, will always be one of my favorite horses. She made sure I could make the step up to the highest level. I don't want to say she 'saved' me because I was healthy, I rode a lot and did what I love most but she made sure I was in the spotlight. We won the Cup in Geneva and she did her best for me all weekend 200%".
"Of course you can't like every horse equally," he continues. "I'd be lying if I said I've never been frustrated around a horse. But once I worked that I had those feelings, I turned the situation around and realized that maybe I was asking too much of the horse. Maybe he wasn't properly trained or just didn't understand what I meant. Ultimately, a horse only responds to what you ask him to do. If he doesn't understand what you mean, maybe it's better to blame yourself instead of blaming the horse," he concludes.