Fredrik Jönsson, an all-round Swedish rider
We meet Fredrik Jönsson in the Swedish national stud in Flyinge. Fredrik was Team World Runner-up in 2018 in Tryon and a member of the Swedish team that won the Nations Cups in Rome, Falsterbo and Hickstead in 2019. The Swedish rider talks to Studforlife about his career, the organization he runs alongside his wife Piia Pantsu Jönsson, Olympic complete bronze medalist at the 2002 Jerez World Championships, and his difficult start with Cold Play. We meet a friendly Swede who, despite his very relaxed attitude, has a very specific goal in mind: Tokyo 2020.
Your father was a well-known eventing rider, competing in the Olympic Games in particular. Have you always been in the thick of things?
Yes. We moved with our family to the Flyinge area in the 1980s when I was 7 years old. There were three riders in my class. One of my friends was Peder Fredricson who achieved quite a good level and we had a lot of fun together. There was also Jens, Peder's brother. When we were about ten years old, we had a really good time with the horses. It was always a natural thing for me to be in the saddle or in the stable. However, it wasn’t very common at that time for boys to ride horses. It was a sport for girls at the time in Sweden. But that didn’t stop us from riding a lot, and we looked at the horses as something fun to do, and then we took part in several junior championships together.
But these were eventing competitions…
Exactly! We did quite a lot of eventing, but plenty of jumping as well. Jens was a jumper, so we followed him. I have to admit that I wasn’t very good at dressage. I always enjoyed show jumping much more! In fact, we had a lot of fun without asking too many questions. We would do anything and everything with the horses, long walks, races to see who was fastest. We even had fun swimming. Now things are much more professional from the outset. But I think it was a good thing for us. We were able to develop a variety of skills that we still use today. I was trained by my father and carried on with eventing. I took part in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Peder, on the other hand, competed in the 1992 OG in Barcelona, but in eventing as well. In 2000, we were both selected for the Sydney Olympics, but we had a bit of argument with our federation and they decided not to send us. After this, we decided to focus on jumping. It so happened that I had a good jumping horse at that time, and that helped me make the decision. My wife was eventing at a high-level, so she got my horses… and very soon she was doing better than me! So, I started jumping, and never changed my mind again.
When did you meet your wife?
We met at the European Junior Eventing Championships in Compiègne. Then she came to train with my father here in Flyinge. That's when our story began. She only jumps now and works a riding instructor at Flyinge. She has also jumped at high level and competed in the Nations Cups for Finland.
Who has influenced you the most during your career?
My father definitely. He taught me a lot, especially at the beginning of my career. He impressed upon me that anything’s possible. I also think that I was inspired by all my contacts with the best riders in the region, especially in Flyinge. Not to mention my old friends, especially Peder.
Does your background in eventing with Peder Fredricson help you now?
Yes, I think we learned to train horses differently, to find the perfect balance in each horse. I’m absolutely convinced that it’s a good idea for show jumpers to learn to ride outside and over natural obstacles.
Did you ever feel the need to go abroad to train?
No. I did a few internships, but never long-term stays. I think it's good to go and see what's being done elsewhere, but the opportunity just didn't come up. I’ve been able to develop my own organization here in the best possible way.
Over the past three seasons you’ve made it to the top. One of the highlights was Tryon's team silver medal in 2018. What was the trigger that brought it all about?
I used to jump at a good national level, but no more than that. What’s more, I had sold the horses that could have taken me to the next level. The big difference is Cold Play. We were able to keep him, and that's it. It's that simple!