– It's a completely different world, it's a bit of a shock

Oda Charlotte Lyngvær got so much more than a job as a professional rider when she signed the deal at Stal Hendrix in Holland.


By: the Editors
Video: Kristian Dale
Publisert: June 14th, 2019

 
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– One of the few things that really makes me happy is riding. Achieving new goals with the horses I’m riding. They don’t have to be superstars, but just improving small steps and developing the horses gives me a lot.

Oda Charlotte Lyngvær (28) has worked as a professional showjumper at Stal Hendrix in the Netherlands for four and a half years, but is born and raised just outside Oslo, Norway, by a family not even remotely interested in horses. She has no idea where her interest in horses comes from, but is “a typical, hardcore horse girl. I was cantering before I could run like a normal child”. She got her first pony at 12 and used playgrounds and benches as cross country fences – and took it all the way to a silver medal in the Norwegian championships in eventing. For the money she earned selling the successful pony, she bought the one she rode the Norwegian, Nordic and European championships on. She only got there because her friend Caroline Bergstrøm had a space left for them in their horse trailer. She seized all opportunities she possibly could.

 

Heading to Holland

The end of her pony career brought along more difficult times. Oda filled every single minute of her days working in night clubs, H&M, anything, to be able to keep riding at the level she wanted. Her top horse got injured and euthanised. Making money working with horses in Norway wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, as long as she got to keep riding – and that’s exactly what she was able to do when she moved to Halmstad, Sweden at 20.

– Helping and training others gives me a lot. In Sweden, I was training all types of horses and travelled to all kinds of places to help and support riders and take some work off their parents’ shoulders.

Oda’s Swedish trainer, Emma Rosenqvist, had been in touch with Dutch Emile Hendrix regarding the Hendrix family’s annual auction. Rosenqvist asked if they needed a rider – and sent Oda to Stal Hendrix to give it a try. Three days later, they offered Lyngvær a job that turned into something much bigger than just a position as a professional rider at the renowned showjumping hub.

 
 
I’ve been like that for my whole life. When an opportunity presents itself, I just take it and see how it goes.
— Oda Charlotte Lyngvær
 
 

Stal Hendrix 101

  • Internationally renowned jumping and trading barn engaged in training
    and educating riders and showjumpers, breeding and training.

  • Run by the brothers Paul and Emile Hendrix – and their two sons,
    Michel (1987) and Timothy (Tim) (1985).

  • Emile Hendrix was a top showjumper in the 80’s and 90’s.
    Participated in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Runs
    Stal Hendrixin Baarlo with his son Tim.

  • Timothy Hendrix has experience up to World Cup and Nations Cup level,
    but is slowly stepping down to take over the family
    business after his father.

  • Paul Hendrix is a breeder at heart. Every year about 25 foals are bred at Stal Hendrix and additionally multiple high potential foals - mainly sired by Stal Hendrix stallions - are purchased.

  • Michel Hendrix, Paul’s son, has worked as a rider for Ludger Beerbaum and was named Rider of the Year in Hendrix’ home region Limburg.

  • Every year Stal Hendrix organizes five events, all to promote the province of Limburg as an equestrian province. The events range from offering a sales platform to organising a national competition with international reach.

 
 
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– Holland is a completely different world

Not only did she get a prestigious job at Hendrix in Holland, she got a whole family. After only three days, Emile wanted to offer Oda the job, but he had to discuss it with his son Tim, who was away competing at the time. When Tim and Oda first met, they were already friends on Facebook. Oda concentrated on behaving professionally, but when she decided to move her whole life to Holland, she gave herself an ultimatum: it had to become a serious relationship – or nothing at all. Four and a half years later, Tim and Oda work side by side as parents of their young daughter Nova and professional showjumpers who ride ten horses before it’s time to pick their daughter up from kindergarten. Make dinner. Bedtime. Every weekend out competing.

– We have very different opinions when it comes to our riding. I believe in my system and he has his own, but we accept each other. He has stepped down a bit since he will take over the family business, but he struggles with giving up his riding completely. Now, I want to do all the things Tim has already done. For me, it means a lot, but he has difficulties understanding that I’m willing to work so hard to achieve something he was born to do.

 

Scandinavia vs. Holland

The couple both trains for Emile himself. The showjumping expert has full trust in Oda’s system and lets her run her show. While we’re chatting with Oda about her life in the Netherlands, Tim sticks his head out of the door behind us. He has put the grey mare Oda sat on for the first time half an hour ago in the stables. They had some free space, so why not. Another talent for training before it will be sent out into the world of showjumping. With the Hendrix stamp on it. That's how Oda’s life has become. “Here's a new horse! Get on it now! Compete it tomorrow!”.


– Coming to the Netherlands from Scandinavia, feeling confident having jumped 1.40 classes, you quickly realise that everyone here has done that. The sister, her grandma and the neighbour with the pony over on that field over there… They’ve all jumped 1.40 classes. All of a sudden you have to show new sides of yourself. You’re not riding with your girlfriends anymore, there are professional riders everywhere. It’s a completely different world and it’s a bit shocking, at first.


 
 
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I never give up. I hate when people tell me to hand a difficult horse over to a male rider because he is stronger than me. I don’t want anyone to think I’m not strong enough. I’m small, but I do everything I can to ensure that I perform my best. Both mentally and physically.
— Oda Charlotte Lyngvær
 
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She feels like most riders could become far better by spending their money on a good mental trainer, rather than on a showjumping coach. Instead of jumping infinite gymnastics, you should learn where and how to breathe while jumping a demanding course. How often do you hear showjumpers say anything about that? For the past year and a half, Lyngvær has ridden 1600 rounds. Jumped countless fences. She believes that’s what makes you a good rider. Routine.

– The difference between the sport in Scandinavia and Holland? When I was “a no-one” back in Norway, I felt very left out. I’ve never felt that here, but that might be because I’m representing Stal Hendrix. Everyone knows it. In both Sweden and Norway, people tend to be more negative and focus on what people do wrong instead of helping each other succeed in the sport. I wish people were more open to working together and supported each other more. That’s what it’s like down here. Everyone supports and helps each other – it’s very welcoming and a nice community to be a part of.

 
 

– I really want to
represent Norway

 
 

It is the feeling of jumping clear rounds that has motivated her ever since she used playgrounds and benches as cross country fences, hitchhiked her way to the European Championships as a teenager – without her parents. At Stal Hendrix in Baarlo, roughly half an hour from Düsseldorf in the one direction, an hour and a half from Brussels in the other, she has everything she needs. Almost.

– Eventually, in this sport, it comes down to a question of resources. That is what’s most difficult for me at the moment, the feeling of having the opportunity, the possibility to make it and represent Norway, but at the same time knowing that I need someone to keep a horse for me. Here, everything is for sale. Everyone wants the horses that can do what I want to do. I feel like I’m at a crossroad where I either have to get a sponsor to keep a really good horse for me, or I have to find a horse that for some reason won’t sell. That doesn’t happen that often. A horse that is scopey, fit, nice to ride, old enough and has something that makes it impossible to sell… It’s a stretch. I am so eager and think that that horse can show up in 10 years, but having to wait 10 years for that opportunity… is difficult to accept. I just want to get going!

 
 
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Someone once told me that “you have to ride all the horses so that the day you find THAT horse, you have worked hard enough to be able to ride it”. So I’m just trying to think about that. Ride, let the days pass, practice and think that the day that one horse comes along, I will be ready for it.
— Oda Charlotte Lyngvær
 
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