Pius Schwizer – experience and passion
Fourth and last part of our meeting with Pius Schwizer. The Swiss rider discusses his plans and objectives for the future.
The Covid-19 crisis has turned this competition season upside down. What are your goals for the next one?
Pius Schwizer: The Olympic Games are obviously my main objective. I think I'm lucky that they have been postponed a year. I was thinking of riding Cortney Cox in the World Cup finals in April. He's a great horse, but he's not a Hickstead or a Milton either. I'm fortunate to have a promising recruit, Quatro Rubin. I rode him at his first World Cup stage in Bordeaux, where he had a fault and we were still placed. He did it with an ease that made me think of Carlina! Thomas Fuchs and Andy Kistler both told me that he was an Olympic horse. Thomas knows me: he knows that if I'm on the team and I have a fit horse; I can post results. He knows that at worst, I leave the arena with 4 faults, but I'm not the kind of person to achieve a clear round and then have a 12-fault round afterwards. The Olympics would have come a little early for Quatro Rubin this season. I'm sure he can do it, and with an extra year to get seasoned at this level, it will be ideal. He really has all the potential, he's very respectful of the jumps. Moreover, he has the same dam as Balou Rubin, with whom I won the gold medal at the last Swiss Championships. In these last few seasons, I have rarely been part of the national team, especially at the big championships, and it's because I haven't had horses like Carlina. I only want to go if I know I have a chance of winning, not just be there to make up numbers.
Are you thinking of joining a Global Champions League team again in 2021?
I hope so. It was incredible last year when we won the team final. The Prague jump-off required two tough rounds from Cortney Cox, but he was incredible. I'm lucky to be able to count on him, and on the support of his owners, HM-Stables. Daniel Deusser, Peder Fredricson and Shane Sweetnam and I make a great team. They’re not only exceptional riders; they are also exceptional men. I've been able to get to know them throughout the season. Even when I left the arena with a disappointing score in Stockholm - it was later discovered that my horse had a sore back - Peder Fredricson was able to find the words to motivate me. In addition to being an excellent rider, he's also a fantastic person. Daniel Deusser is also a phenomenon. I’ve always found him to be an outstanding rider who deserves to be at the top of the world rankings.
Do you prefer the Swiss national team or the Global Champions League team?
I think we can be part of both if we organize ourselves well and if we have several high-level mounts. I have always worked with a lot of horses in order to have a well-supplied string, that also allowed them the necessary rest. I am always team-minded: some horses perform better on the sand, others on the grass, and I try to plan group training and competition schedules to engage them in the most logical way. I'm on the phone all the time, looking for new horses. I need to think about the future. And even during competitions: instead of sipping a glass of champagne at the side of the arena, I spend hours in my truck making phone calls to find new stars. I obviously enjoy wearing the colors of the Swiss team, it's great to ride alongside Steve and Martin. I've known Steve for a long time; we've done business together. We are not from the same generation, but we have shared great moments together. He's an exceptional rider. We don't call each other every day, but we're friends. He even invited me to his wedding, which I wasn't expecting.
Considering your long career, how do you see the evolution of show jumping?
The discipline has changed enormously. The quality of the horses has become incredible. Before, there were only 5 or 10 riders who could win an event, now there are 40. There is also a lot of money being invested in the sport. The Global Champions Tour provides great opportunities for riders. You can win a lot of money; there are many competitions to enter in incredible places. Of course, team events cost money, but there is also a lot of money to be made. In my opinion, the equestrian world is the winner. Jan Tops is a real entrepreneur; he has dared to take risks. He and his team have built a successful business. And we must not forget that if these millions of dollars are not being invested in the equestrian world, they will go elsewhere, and it would be too bad for us! Jan fights for that, with his heart and his head. What he does is extraordinary.
What are your dreams for the future?
I am fundamentally a positive person, always looking to the future. Even when I have a bad round, I try to look for the positives in it. My dream is to stay healthy. A lot of people tell me that I'm already 57, but I think I'm lucky to be in such good shape at my age... Some people don't make it to 57. We’ve got to remember that we can die at any age and we’ve got to be grateful for what we have. We must also rejoice in the success of others. You have to take your own path, and not be jealous. Live and let live.
Text: Oriane Grandjean. Photos: Clément Grandjean.