Patrik Kittel – The King of Dressage
The man with the broadest smile in our sport and the one with the most original freestyle music. A Swede in Germany with Isabelle Werth as a coach and a willpower most others only can dream of. Meet Patrik Kittel.
By: The Editors
– If I didn’t spend my life with horses I would probably have worked as a mental coach or something similar. My passion is to help other people, encourage them and see them develop. Luckily, my life as a rider makes this possible. To hear that I am an inspiration to others means a lot to me!
His favourite exercises are piaffe and passage. If he goes on vacation, Hamilton Island is the most likely destination. Patrik Kittel is ranked number ten in the world and the goal for 2019 is clear:
– I would like to be a great dad for Emilia, and I will do my best to get Sweden a medal in the upcoming European Championships.
More than top-hats and double bridles
His daily life wouldn’t be possible without his family and team. On Patrik’s Instagram feed you’ll find glimpses from his family life combined with world-class dressage and videos from the stable. He has an open attitude, shares his experiences and inspires the equestrian world with his “happy” approach to life.
– “Be happy” is something I keep telling myself every day. The sport of dressage is surrounded by traditions and perfectionism. To avoid creating an outdated sport, the riders needs to be open and forthcoming. We can’t be afraid to show that we also do mistakes. Dressage is so much more than just top-hats and double bridles. I choose to give everyone a look into my life, to show that the leading dressage riders are just ordinary people that they can identify with.
You don’t get the feeling of talking to one of the best from this relatively conservative discipline. Rather the opposite. It’s something special about Patrik Kittel. He is down to earth, has a constant twinkle in his eye and there is more laughter than words. At the same time Patrik has very reflected thoughts about his sport. Determined and creative, even though he wasn’t a typical talent. He never gave up and dived into every challenge he was given. It’s something he keeps on doing.
Swedish candy and rocky kürs
Sushi is his favourite food. He looks up to Charlotte Dujardin for her riding and equestrian attitude. And his wife and daughter Emilia mean everything to him. For entertainment he has a special love for a certain group of friends living in New York.
– I just love Friends! And when I really want to relax, I spend time with my family. Throw in a bag of Swedish sweets (lösgodis) and life is perfect!
When he’s not in the saddle, Patrik keeps in shape by running, swimming, lifting weights – and pushing the stroller. On horseback he’s kept in line by the one and only Isabell Werth.
– Isabell is a tough fighter and a unique person. She’s always honest and straight forward with her instructions. To ride for Isabelle is extremely inspiring. She has taught me a lot!
When asked to describe the perfect dressage horse, Patrik focuses on a strong will, kind eyes and a talent for being collected. As a rider he describes himself as stubborn, curious and happy. And he starts laughing when we ask why he chose dressage:
– Well, I guess I was a poor jumper!
Patrik loves to engage judges and spectators with a real show and original choices of music. A cheering arena is what the world of dressage needs lots more of.
– Creating a kür starts out in my mind. I try to focus on my own and the horse’s strengths. After finding the right starting point, I ride the program. Then I adjust it until I am happy. We film the whole program and send it to my music producer, Michael Erdmann. He also works with Isabell. The process of making a kür can be difficult, sometimes really frustrating. But in the end, the result is often something that makes me very proud.
Swipe for an interview and photos from when we met Patrik in Stockholm!
The heroes of tomorrow
An ordinary day in Patrik’s life starts at six in the morning. One hour later, after a quick breakfast, he is already in the saddle. His days are hectic with riding, teaching and meetings. The evenings are spent with his family.
– If I were asked to offer some tips for upcoming riders, it must be to study those who are better than you. Try, make mistakes, never give up and be happy!
To prevent injuries and keep the horse agile and strong, Patrik is clear on his recommendations.
– Do a lot of the exercises in walk, be soft and foreward, take enough breaks and end the lesson when your horse does something correct. This will keep motivation on top.
Looking into the future of dressage, Patrik believes the sport should be divided into leagues. Like football. This would spike the interest amongst spectators.
– Honestly, it can become a bit boring for the audience to watch forty riders go through the exact same program. There is a reason why kür is a favourite amongst many, not only for me. The feeling you get while riding up the central line when the spectators are cheering is an incredible experience. I always aim to give the audience something surprising to watch!
Want to get to know more dressage riders? We’ve texted with Danish Daniel Bachmann Andersen!