Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping


Interview with Joana Schildknecht


JOANA SCHILDKNECHT (Photo: YRA / Fabio Petroni)


What are your goals for the rest of this year, and what are your plans, dreams and ambitions for 2024?

My goal for the rest of the 2023 season is to compete in the Under-25 class at the CHI Geneva, and to compete in some 1.50m classes to qualify for the Swiss Championships next year. My first goal for 2024 is to compete in the Under-25 class in Basel. For the rest of 2024, I would like to compete for the Swiss team in 3* competitions. Hopefully, I will be able to achieve some great results at those competitions.


What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Some of the proudest moments of my career thus far have come from representing Switzerland in Nations Cups over the few past years. I am also very proud of medals that I won competing at the Swiss Championships. Competing at numerous Junior and Young Rider European Championships have been a highlight for me – although I have never medaled, I am proud of myself for having qualified for them and to have represented Switzerland.


Tell us a little about your current stable of horses and their personalities…

I currently have four older horses that compete in the bigger classes, and I also have five younger horses who are aged from five to seven-years-old. I always train and build them up myself from a young age to when they hopefully compete in the bigger classes.

One of my top horses is Catrina J; I competed her at the last two Young Rider Europeans. Victor Nn and Napoleon C are also two of my more experienced horses – with them I had my first 1.50m placements this year, and competed in a number of 2* Grands Prix and 3* shows.


At what point did you realise that you wanted to become a professional show jumper?

I knew that I wanted to become a professional show jumper from a child. My parents had a small stable, so I grew up around horses and my love for horses grew from there. The connection that you can create with a horse is extremely special and one I have always loved. I knew that I wanted to be around horses constantly and wanted to compete at shows.


You were part of the Rolex Young Riders Academy, can you tell us about the Academy and how it has helped you.

Being part of the Rolex Young Riders Academy was extremely special, it was one of the best things that has happened in my career thus far – I had an incredible time! Everything we learnt was interesting, and the connections we made were amazing. We learnt from experts in the equestrian industry, including vets, as well as having business and economic seminars. It helped me a huge amount and provided me with a huge amount of confidence. 


Just like tennis and golf, show jumping has its very own Grand Slam. Which of the other sporting ‘Majors’ do you love watching, and which is your favourite and why?

I love watching the Formula 1 Championships. I support Red Bull who are dominating this season.


As a young rider. What does the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping mean to you? How positive do you believe the Rolex Grand Slam is for the sport of show jumping?

I think that the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is incredible, it brings together the most elite Grands Prix held at the most historic shows. Every rider aspires to compete in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. It is something special!


As a Swiss rider, what does the CHI Geneva mean to you, and how special is it to compete there?

The CHI Geneva is considered the main indoor show in Switzerland and therefore it is incredibly special to ride there. The facilities at the CHI Geneva are unbelievable; everything is so organized. The atmosphere there is amazing – I have never been to another show that compares to the CHI Geneva.

I love having the opportunity to ride with the best riders in the world. I also watch them in the warm-up arenas – you can learn do so much from doing this!


The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary – how big an impact has it had on the sport?

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has had an important impact on everyone in show jumping – from the trainers to the horses to the riders. I am too young to been aware of all of the changes, but over the last few years I have really seen the positive impact that the initiative has had.


Who has inspired you the most throughout your career? Is there one rider you idolise?

I am truly inspired by Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs who are fellow Swiss riders. I train with Thomas Fuchs, and sometimes I am able to train with Martin which is very special.


What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

The best advice that I have received is that it is you should always listen to your horse, and to not want too much from them. Some horses take longer to develop, and therefore you have to be patient and work with them to get the best result.

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