2021 is probably one of the best years of their lives. After successively welcoming a baby boy Noah, then moving to their wonderful new facilities in the Netherlands, before decorating their club with stunning Olympic gold medals, Henrik von Eckermann and Janika Sprunger Seems to be living in a true fairy tale. Each finding themselves at key stages in their professional and personal lives, the Swedes and Swiss have joined forces to become ever more famous in the world of show dance.
Once upon a time, there were two cold lovers, living happily in their charming brand new home, surrounded by a harem of horses, friends and neighbors, medals and titles crowned in the center. club, and their lovely son, who is only one year old. old. One, a 41-year-old Swede, barely recovered from his Japanese Olympic epic, from which he returned with a well-deserved team title under the belt of a chestnut named King Edward (BWP, Edward x Feo de Lauzelle), undoubtedly became, since, the best in his universe. The other, 35 years old from Switzerland, has just made a remarkable comeback on stage, accompanying future stars, after giving birth to Noah. The protagonists of a fairy tale-like story, Henrik von Eckermann and Janika Sprunger seem more complete than ever, and ready to establish their place amid the encirclement of world show jumps.
This emotional new chapter in their lives, the two are graced with a love story they discreetly revealed on social media in early 2018.”Janika has always been the woman I dreamed of having by my side.‘, Henrik confided, all smiling. “And honestly, I had to fight for a long time! (Laughs) Actually, I feel like everything happened at the right time, and everything fell into place. I always make my decisions based on my intuition. When Janika came into my life, everything became so simple! She brought me peace! (Laughter) And above all, a lot of security. It is always present; even if she’s not there, she’s still there! We complement each other very well. The most important thing is that we respect each other very much; We respect our people and each other’s weaknesses.“Cyor stables co-founder with his partner Henrik never dreamed of being at the top of his own business, having grown athletically and mastered horseback riding in Ludger Beerbaum’s stables. Slender and smiling Swede, whom GRANDPRIX published a portrait at number 95, a month before he finished third again in the 2018 Longines World Cup final in Paris, against Tovek’s Mary Lou 194 (Westph, Montendro x Portland L), spent no less than twelve years in her mentor’s lair, in Riesenbeck, northwest Germany, surrounded by Philipp Weishaupt, Marco Kutscher, Christian Kukuk and many other knights trained by Kaiser. If he’s not intrigued by a solo career, it’s because the new driver started his professional adventure at the age of twenty by creating his own structure in Söderköping, Sweden, and obviously clearly measured the difficulty of managing a stable alone. “At that point, I wanted to make sure I knew how to walk on my own, on my own two feet.“, he said. “But after a while, I started to see that it was a lot of work and cost a lot of money. Plus, I spend more time dealing with the paperwork in the office and coaching people than driving… That’s not what I want. I want to play sports!“
First flight named Mary Lou for Henrik
At the end of 2016, Henrik decided to make his first flight by leaving Riesenbeck. “I’ve come to a point in my life when I feel like I’m getting old. I’ve been at Ludger for twelve years and I want a change“, he explained.However, I never imagined setting it up myself, especially since I am well aware of the advantages this type of system offers me: I am completely focused on my sports career. , I don’t manage anything, and the atmosphere with other riders system is great. I started this transition around the time of the 2016 Rio Olympics. I had only one or two Grand Prix horses left (including Yajamila, SWB, Lux Z x Daimler B, with whom he finished second. twenty-four in Brazil, editor’s note), and Ludger retired from the national team, so I think it’s now or never. “ A few months later, the Swedish dog moved into Karl Schneider’s barn, in Bonn, two and a half hours from Riesenbeck. Intermediate level rider and horse dealer, forty-year-old German, then owner of Cantinero (former Chopin de Mariposa, BWP, Cento x Cash) who rode under Henrik’s saddle for almost three years, welcome this last time with please. “I’ve always told myself that when I move out, I want to stay in a modest sized cage. Again, I don’t want a huge structure because I want the sport to remain my priority. Of course, at the time, I was a bit offline and I didn’t know where it would take me… We had a great relationship with Karl. Moreover, we continue to cooperate. He helped me a lot moving forward, such as putting me in the hands of Mary Lou, who really accompanied this transition. Without this mare, things would be very different today. “ Away from the stage since December 2019 due to health problems, the atypical and talented mare officially retired in June. Contrary to what was said at the time, Westphalian was not injured. injured during the play-off of the Global Champions League in Prague – where several horses were involved in accidents, including Tempo de Paban (AA, Jarnac x Quatar de Plapé, AA), Olivier Robert’s former accomplice – , but at CSI 5* in Geneva, in the Top Ten Rolex IJRC. After a six-point penalty on the first course, the pair did not leave the second run. “In Prague, I decided not to climb it after noticing the poor ground quality”, assured Henrik. “Furthermore, I think the sport is above all the responsibility of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). This is part of the sheriff’s duty in the shoal! When the ground is bad, they have to raise the alarm. I understand that the organizers are also doing what they can, but regarding Prague, the managers should have warned them from day one and canceled the event. “ Today, Mary Lou is fully enjoying her new life in northern Italy, in the wonderful facilities of Mares of Macha, the breeding company founded by Klaas de Coster, Frederik de Backer and Pieter Devos . “The climate there is perfect so she can live outside almost all year round with her friends. And this will allow this super mare to have a good cub. “
Welcome to the Netherlands!
Henrik and Janika announced their future move in May 2020, after purchasing from Emile Hendrix, a Dutch former Olympic athlete, a four-hectare estate in Kessel, a village located in south of the Netherlands, 80 km from Aachen la-Chapelle and its equestrian temple. While they could certainly acquire existing buildings, the two riders chose, according to a combination of circumstances, to acquire a wasteland. “This chance is truly a coincidence.”, said the Swede. “We were talking to Emile Hendrix one day because we didn’t know if we wanted to buy or rent. He told us that he owned a piece of land near the German border. We got there and knew right away we had to come here because we already felt at home! At first we didn’t plan to build it, but as soon as we visited a stable, we got confused by such and such details. Also, when you land somewhere, you don’t necessarily know the history of that place…”
So the couple embarked on the design of their house, imagining from A to Z, from the plan to the materials, including the colors and the vegetation. After buying at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic-related health crisis, new owners above all can take time to reflect. “At first, when the virus landed, we were afraid that it would upset our program, but that is really an advantage! “Henrik laughed. “If we started work around the time we played every weekend, it would be very complicated. We were very fortunate to be able to take the time to keep track of everything; it’s so perfect. “ As a nationality couple, the choice might have been in other locations, but Kessel’s geographic location convinced them. “We are at the center of everything, and for example a stone’s throw from Kronenberg and Valkenswaard, and commuting from here is easy”Henrik argued. “JI am happy to live in the Netherlands because I have settled in Germany for a very long time and I think I have done a good job. Honestly, I can’t see myself living there all my life. Going back to Sweden was also not an option because we were too far away. As for Janika, she has lived in the Netherlands (left her native Switzerland six years ago when she moved to Belgium, editor’s note) and she really enjoys life there. “ Additionally, the lucky couple have a number of friends living around, starting with Emile Hendrix, or Brazilian Marlon Módolo Zanotelli, and his Swedish wife Angelica Augustsson, who live 45 minutes away, in Belgium. “Honestly, we spend so much time at the barn that we have very little time left for other activities. In our free time, we mainly spend with family! “
“Everything is different when you become a parent”
It must be said that the couple experienced happiness when welcoming their first child, baby Noah, born on April 6, 2021.baby project“And this pregnancy also took Janika away from the competition fields from July 2020, before returning strongly just a month after giving birth. In no time, despite the obvious goodwill, to sit down for a few minutes for an interview.”Everything is different when you become a parent”Henrik said. “It’s much easier for me to get rid of negativity because I know there’s more to it when I get home. I go much faster. Raising a child is truly something special, unbelievable. “
After managing on their own for the first year, the two accomplices called for a nanny to better manage this new daily rhythm of life. “My stepmother (Dominique Sprunger, editor’s note) lived right next to us and helped us a lot by babysitting Noah or riding our horses, including mine. Now that Janika is back in competition, hiring one seemed easier, so we found a wonderful Swedish nanny to take care of her. So my son will speak Swedish very well because she and I talk to him all the time in this language! (Laughter) “He’s only turned a year old, he’s got his butt on the horse’s back as evidenced by a few photos on his parents’ Instagram account.”Of course, I would be happy if my son was passionate about horseback riding and also active in the equine world – and why not with us! -, but above all he will do what he wants”, admitted his father, the star in his eyes. Surrounded by their loved ones, Janika and Henrik are committed to developing a small-scale farm where a family and friendly atmosphere reigns. “We want a small team because we really want to keep a warm spirit. “, said the Swede. “Honestly, we couldn’t be happier with our lives now, with our little family, in our new home. Obviously, like everyone else, we also encounter obstacles in our daily lives, but they seem insignificant compared to the happiness we know.