SPOOKS Show Cup Breakthrough
SPOOKS Show Cup Breakthrough
What connects Sonja Buchholz and her horse Tün is trust. The piebald gelding is not just well on the road to success in the field of eventing, he is even prepared to charge with his rider headfirst through a wall. Even if the wall was only made of paper, it still meant a huge breakthrough for the couple, as it meant that they became the very first winners of the SPOOKS Show Cup at EQUITANA Open Air in Mannheim.
Both practised the ride through the wall intensely beforehand. Sonja recollects her initial preparations for her big appearance, “I set up two stands in the round pen and stretched newspaper between them. Everybody at the stables thought I was mad”. Tün was not very keen to start with, but after being tempted with enough treats, he ultimately deigned to go through the new obstacle. “Initially we worked from the ground and then later from the saddle. We gradually raised the height of the paper wall and Tün soon got used to it.”
So that meant that the highlight of the performance was already in place, now it was a case of putting together the rest of the act: “Whenever anything occurred to me, I would write it down on small slips of paper and try it out after training.” Sonja decided to include anything that worked in her act and discard anything that failed to work. “Really, I wanted to ride do a flying change over the black cloth, but Tün kept getting it wrong, so I decided to leave that bit out.”
She gradually added piaffe, passage, Spanish walk, all performed with a neck ring, as, bit by bit, the individual elements started coming together to form a proper act. Then it was a case of finding a subject and the right music. As Sonja says, “I really wanted something that also fitted with Tün’s looks. Lion King wouldn’t really be the right accompaniment for a piebald”. Originally she wanted something with vampires but the then copyright laws proved a hindrance. So instead she selected Pirates of the Caribbean. She chose a costume and accessories that underlined the topic and would match Tün’s colouring. “That is why I ultimately chose black and white. I once won the baroque waistcoat in a competition”. By combining this with a white blouse, black breeches and top hat, the Amazon was transformed into a bold pirate.
To make sure that she did not run out of time during her act, Sonja mentally noted different places in the arena where she needed to be at certain points in the music. “It is important not to be too rigid, as it could start to look like a dressage number rather than looking as free and laid-back as intended. Because everybody is nervous, you always have to reckon with something going wrong somewhere. As long as you just keep on riding, it looks as though it was meant to be that way.” Sonja’s strategy certainly paid off in Mannheim. “I must admit, I never ever dreamt of winning in such an impressive setting as EQUITANA Open Air”, she says.
Sonja is already looking forward to her next major appearance at EQUITANA 2021 in Essen. “I’ll really need to think up something special for that!”