Exclusive HSJ’s Interview with Lars Kersten

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Unveiling the Journey of a Rising Star in Equestrian Sports

In an exclusive interview with Lars Kersten, a promising equestrian talent from the Netherlands, we delve into his background, his journey in the equestrian world, and his aspirations for the future.

Lars Kersten, a 24-year-old showjumper. Known for his calm and composed demeanor, Lars has established himself as a promising talent in the world of equestrian sports. Since a young age, he has been captivated by horseriding, recognizing it as his true passion and calling.

Lars’s unique approach to training sets him apart in the competitive arena. He values the individuality of each horse, taking a tailored approach to their development to unlock their full potential. For Lars, it’s not just about winning; it’s about fostering a deep connection with his equine partners and guiding them towards success.

As he embarks on the current season, Lars’s focus is on delivering consistent performances in Nations Cups as part of the Dutch national team. Additionally, he aspires to elevate other horses to the highest level of competition, pushing his own boundaries as a rider while helping his equine companions soar to new heights. With his unwavering dedication and passion for the sport, Lars Kersten is poised to make a lasting impact on the world of showjumping

– Lars, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you share with our readers a bit about your upbringing and how you were introduced to the world of equestrian sports?

Certainly. I come from the Netherlands, where I grew up immersed in the equestrian world. My family runs our own stable in the south of the Netherlands, which serves as both a place for sport and breeding. Horses have been a part of my life from a very young age, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passion as a profession.

– It’s clear that yours is a passion and a family we business. Can you tell us how it all started and when you realized that it would become your profession and not just your passion?

“The equestrian journey began with my father, who single- handedly established our stable. His dedication and love for horses inspired me and my twin brother, Nils, to follow in his footsteps.

From the moment I could sit in the saddle, I knew that horses would be an integral part of my life. As we grew up around the stable, it became evident that our passion would evolve into our profession.”

– Speaking of your twin brother, Niels, how is your relationship with him in the sport? Do you guys share each other’s opinions and knowledge together, and how important is it to share your success with him?

“My bond with Niels is incredibly strong, both in and out of the sport. While we pursued different paths for a period, working at separate stables, our connection remained steadfast. Now that he’s back with the family business, we collaborate closely, sharing insights and supporting each other’s endeavors. Sharing success with him is incredibly rewarding, as it reinforces the notion that we’re in this together, as a team.”

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Lars Kersten riding Halilea winners of the FEI World Cup in Gothenburg 2024 (c) FEI – Photo provided by Lars Kersten

– Let’s talk about your recent success at the Gothenburg event, where you secured a remarkable victory over renowned riders like Peder Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann. Can you share with us how you felt after this achievement?

“The victory at Gothenburg was a career-defining moment for me. Competing against esteemed riders like Peder Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann was incredible. Stepping onto the podium in front of such a passionate crowd filled me with pride and gratitude. It was a validation of the hard work and dedication that my team and I have put in over the years.”

– One of the highlights of your career is your partnership with a homebred mare Hallilea. Can you share with us the story behind her and the connection you have developed throughout the years?

“Working with my homebred mare has been an incredibly rewarding experience. She’s been a constant presence in my career, accompanying me through the highs and lows. Our journey together began when she was just a young foal, and since then, we’ve grown and evolved as a team. The bond we share is indescribable, and winning with her at prestigious events like Gothenburg shows how strong our partnership is .”

– You mentioned the importance of the horses that have shaped your journey, such as Emmerton and Hallilea . Can you elaborate on their roles in your career and how they have contributed to your growth as a rider?

“Emmerton and have been pivotal in shaping my career as a rider. Emmerton , in particular, was my companion during my formative years in the sport. He taught me valuable lessons about patience, perseverance, and the art of horsemanship. I rode my first senior Nations Cup with him and he has helped me but also the other horses step up to the bigger level. Hallilea , on the other hand, has been my partner in recent successes, showing our synergy and mutual trust. Both horses have left an indelible mark on my journey, and I’m grateful for the lessons they’ve imparted.”

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Competing on the international stage has been a dream come true for me.”

— Lars Kersten

– Representing your country and achieving success on the international stage must be a dream come true. Can you share with us some memorable moments from your international competitions?

“Competing on the international stage has been a dream come true for me. One of the most memorable moments was winning gold and bronze medals at the 2019 championships in Zuidwolde.

Standing atop the podium, hearing the national anthem, and seeing the pride in my countrymen’s eyes is an experience I’ll cherish forever. Additionally, my first senior Nations Cup appearance in Dublin remains a highlight, as it symbolized a culmination of years of hard work and dedication.”

– Managing the pressure of competition is crucial for athletes. Can you share with us how you cope with the pressure, and do you have any advice for younger riders?

“Managing pressure is indeed a challenge, but I’ve learned to embrace it as part of the sport. Surrounding myself with a supportive team, including coaches, family, and friends, has been instrumental in keeping me grounded. Additionally, maintaining a disciplined routine, both in and out of the saddle, helps me stay focused and composed. For younger riders, my advice would be to trust in your training, believe in yourself, and remember that every setback is an opportunity for growth.”

– Looking ahead, what are your future ambitions and projects in the equestrian world?

“In the short term, I hope to compete in more Nations Cup events this summer and continue honoring my country as a rider. Long term, my goal is to maintain the success of my current horses while also nurturing the next generation of talent. Building a legacy in the sport and representing my country on the world stage are aspirations that drive me every day.”

– Finally, Lars, can you share with us your lifelong dream in equestrian sports?

“My lifelong dream is to compete and excel in major tournaments like the Olympic Games and World Championships. Events like the Dutch Masters and Geneva hold a special place in my heart, and winning there would be the culmination of years of dedication and hard work. Ultimately, my goal is to leave a lasting impact on the sport and inspire future generations of riders.”

As Lars continues his journey in the equestrian world, his dedication, talent, and u determination serve as an inspiration to aspiring riders worldwide. We wish him all the success in his future.

V. Sozzi

Photos provided by Lars Kersten

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