World leading show jumper steams his horses’ hay for purely preventative reasons.

World leading show jumper steams his horses’ hay for purely preventative reasons.

“We don’t steam hay because our horses have problems, we steam their hay to prevent them having problems.” So says world #1 ranked show jumper, Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden.

He and his wife and fellow show jumper, Janika Sprunger, were early adopters of Haygain steaming and consider it a key part of their horses’ care at CYOR Stables. Between them, they have 12 horses at their training base in Kessel, the Netherlands. Their position at the peak of international show jumping sport might conjure visions of having many, many horses but they keep their count small on purpose.
“This is how we want to build our business as professionals,” Henrik explains. “We don’t want to have too many horses. We want to be able to give every horse the care it needs and we never want the feeling that we don’t have the time or resources to give every horse whatever it needs.”

Consistently Clean Hay

Henrik acknowledges that his understanding of Haygain’s benefits has evolved over time. From the beginning, he travelled to shows with Haygain steamers to ensure that whatever hay available would be of good hygienic quality consistent with the steamed hay his horses enjoyed at home.

Haygain steaming is the only scientifically proven method for reducing up to 99% of the respirable irritants in forage. Because these invisible particles are a main cause of respiratory problems and a potential contributor to digestive problems, Haygain has become the standard of care in preventing and/or managing these health challenges.
“Fifteen years ago, I’d say our focus was more on lameness issues,” Henrik continues. “But that’s changed to now having equal focus on stomach and airway issues. That’s because I see how extremely important that is to the health of our horses. For the level of sport we are doing, our horses actually don’t have serious health problems, so it’s more about giving them every advantage to their health and well-being.
“The interesting part of our sport is that, as you get new horses, they have new issues that help you figure out things you didn’t see before. In the end, you want to have the knowledge about the whole picture of the horse. The more you know about everything, the more you can be ahead of problems. You don’t want to wait until you have a problem to deal with it.”

Legendary Horsemanship

Henrik’s horsemanship is the stuff of legend and the foundation for his success. Every dramatic medal-winning performance began in the barn, with Henrik, Janika and their team seeking to understand each horse’s needs and nuances.

“There’s so much more to our sport than just the riding,” Henrik told WorldofShowJumping.com in their coverage of his 2023 Longines FEI World Cup Finals win with King Edward. “The relationship with your horse is always going to be the base for any success you might have.”

Open To New Ideas

King Edward jumped clear through all six show jumping rounds at the Tokyo Olympics, on their way to helping Sweden win team gold. He’s one of only three horses in history to be fault-free in Olympic show jumping competition.

Brought along with patience and faith by Henrik and Janika, King Edward is equally famous for going barefoot, an example of the couple’s willingness to try something different – in Edward’s case to address the sense that he seemed to have excess pressure in his front feet, although he was never lame from it. That was in 2020 and he has soared ever since with careful barefoot trimming and maintenance that are critical for horses suited to barefoot life.

While Haygain steaming has been well-accepted for many years, it was a new and, to some, an odd-sounding idea when introduced. Then as now, Henrik and Janika were focused on approaches that can help their horses perform at their peak and live in comfort and optimal health.

They trust that good results will flow from that foundation and they’ve been quite right!

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