Interview: Margitt Appelt “Blenheim’s brightest star”

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If you saw any coverage from this year’s Blenheim then one rider probably caught your eye. Austrian eventer Margitt Appelt wowed the crowds, and cameras with her eye catching fashion. From the trot up (where she wore traditional Austrian national dress!) to the cross country course she was a girl that was hard to miss!

GHE readers will know that I am an avid fan of colour coordination myself, if it’s green and white and chequered then I must have it!  Last year I spoke to Paul Tapner about his relationship with the colour red and just how far he’s willing to go when it comes to “matchy matchy” you can read that interview here.

Here’s what Margit aka Maggie had to say when I caught up with her and popped a few questions last week…

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You and ‘Space Jet’ were the stand out combination from Blenheim this year and your amazing cross country colours have been the talk of social media ever since! Can you tell me a little more about why you chose the yellow and black star colour scheme, when your love of colour coordination really took off and the question on everybody’s lips, where DID you get those breeches? They are incredible!

Until Athens in 2004 I rode in black absolutely everything was black!!! Unfortunately at Athens I fell off and all they showed on the TV coverage was me crawling around on the floor all dressed in black. A friend afterwards asked me if I knew how macabre that looked! That was the moment when I decided to change colours and chose sunny yellow – yellow because it’s the same colour my great idol (and now good friend) Lucinda Green rides in! The stars joined later somehow, first only on my hat, then last year for my birthday I got these self-stamped breeches made for me by a friend 😉

I’m really (positively) surprised about how much everybody was talking about my clothing. I’ve been riding in yellow since 2004 and with the stars for 1.5 years. So many people now have“their” colours… I think the trend originally came from Britain (Lucinda Green-yellow, Ginny Leng-purple, Mary King-green, Lucinda Frederiks-pink,…)
How far does your colour coordination extend? Is everything on the yard yellow?
Everything possible 😉 if I go for something, I go for it a 100% 😉

What item/product would you really love in your colours but have so far not been able to find?
Yellow belt boots the way I like them – the higher cut shape and open in front. They don’t have to have stars as I can paint those on myself!

How did you find/buy/breed Space Jet?
I bought him from another Austrian eventer as a 4-year old, when he has been just broken in.

What is Space Jet’s personality like?
He has is great character! He thinks he is my 4th dog. He’s very sweet, very personable, very funny, a real clown in the stables, always a bit naughty, but never against you!
Under saddle he is quite electric and spooky. He’s really self confident at his fences and really strong in canter, sometime he has a mind of his own, but he’s always trying to get things right!

10616405_348539758646688_9118381184248398851_nWhere do you travel to source your new rides and youngsters?
The last horses I bought I found in the Czech Republic and Poland.

If you could have any event horse on the international circuit right now which one would you want and why?
Space Jet because I know him and he is my friend. There are soooo many great horses, but I don’t know them well enough to know if I would “click” with them like I do him.

Do you have any superstitions when competing?
Oh yes a lot! I find any mathematical way to turn my start number into something relating to 3 or 7. I always use my Pegasus socks (which are not really socks any more, but a collection of holes) for cross country, and I ride with the first ever riding whip given to me by my best friend, it’s yellow too of course!
In non-horsey life I go regularly to donate blood – I think of it as a “deal” with destiny 😉

What differences did you notice if any between eventing in Austria and Britain?
Difficult question, where shall I start!? Everything! Beginning with the basic idea of eventing in Austria in general a lot of people think that eventing is a cruel sport and so there is very little to sponsorship or money available for the sport. You can see this in the fact that we only have one 3*, two 2* and three 1* competitions a YEAR!!!

There are no owners so we all get to where we get using our own money and enthusiasm to travel millions of miles to competitions. You also can’t compare the going. You can’t run a horse here as often as you can in Britain or you’d ruin it and because of that we are happy/lucky if we have 1 horse, maybe 2 at international level. As a result riders can’t the same experience and runs under their belt as professionals in Britain do, but we are trying our best and for 3 years now Lucinda Green has been training our national team and trying to bring the “British idea” to Austria!

How do you relax or celebrate after a good day’s eventing, and what treat do your horses get if they have been good?
I phone up my best friend and tell her all about it! Actually they get all the same treatment, most of the times it is my own fault if something goes wrong. Normally they go back to the field to enjoy a good roll in the mud and be “horses” again, all the boys together playing!

maHow would you rank all 3 phases of eventing from your most to least favourite?
Cross country, dressage, showjumping

When was the last time you fell off?
Last Monday off a dressage horse in walk 😉 Who says dressage is not dangerous?

Which aspect of eventing do you enjoy the most?
Being a team with your horse. Challenging the course together and finding the answers to the questions by relying on each other.

Which aspect of your eventing do you dislike the most?
The “qualification rules” are always on my mind. Because we have so few events and it takes soooo much effort to get to them, you end up always trying to get an FEI “MER” and it really limits you. After my technical runout at fence 6 at Blenheim I went over the next 15 fences thinking that I should stop and go home, then I could go to Sopot in Poland to try and gain another FEI “MER”… that’s not a good way to ride a big 3* course…
I need to get out of that!

What words of wisdom or motivational sayings do you find help you?
“What does the moon care, if a dog barks at him” – for a lot of situations in life
“Make it happen” – from Lucinda Green

What useful training exercise on the flat or over fences could you not do without?
Shoulder in! Lateral bend is one of the most important items in my training.

If you could give amateur eventers one piece of advice what would it be?
“Just go there and do it!”

If you weren’t able to event what other non-horse related sport would you choose?
I’m not very sportive, maybe swimming or chess 😉

What are your proudest achievements to date and what are your eventing aims for the future?
Everybody would say “Getting through the Athens Olympics”, but it wasn’t sooo great for many reasons, probably getting round Punchestown 2003, Pau CCI4* 2010 and now Blenheim.
An aim… my biggest dream always was Badminton, who knows….

Photos by kind permission of MDR Photography

 

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