To be thankful is an attitude of life

Her first book was published a few weeks ago. It is not a biography, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl emphasises that. Rather it is an insight into her life, into the people and animals, who have accompanied, empowered and inspired her. Editor-in-chief Sarah Schnieder talked to her about courage, gratitude and the crucial basis for proud horses.

Jessica, you are an author now, what inspired you?

Three and a half years ago, when I was pregnant, I had started to write something with the title ‘The seven most important findings of my life so far’. I wrote down everything I had experienced with my horses until now. Simply out of need. Then it happened that more and more publishers approached me. Somehow, the interest was there. Then I thought: why not?
What am I waiting for? Of course I thought about what kind of book it should be. I am too young for a biography. I did not want to write a guide either. This is how a reflective review of what has happened so far was created. It also reminded me of what has already happened. For example, when I wrote the chapter about Dalera I became properly aware again of everything we had experienced. Usually you only look forward and always want more. Therefore, it is good to reflect. During the Corona lockdown I had enough time, I really got into writing.

• You write in your book very honestly that not everything has always ran smoothly. For example, that you yourself asked Unee’s owner Beatrice Bürchler-Keller whether you could ride him and your family even laughed at you in the beginning. But this shows that sometimes you just have to be courageous in order to change something.

Yes, exactly. Everybody knows these situations in which your gut feeling tells you to just do it! And the mind wrestles it down. The same goes for me, too. And obviously there are situations in which I would have liked to have been more courageous in retrospect. One example: at the Nations Cup in Hagen a.T.W. in 2015, during my change from extended trot to passage a photo was taken which indicated that I had totally rolled up the horse. In this short moment Unee was clearly too tight and a total shitstorm broke out. But looking at the video this was not evident. I have been extremely hurt by the way people reacted. With today’s knowledge I would have been somewhat better about it. Then I would have dared to post the video and tell them: take a closer look! Naturally I make mistakes, nobody is perfect. But it is not what the picture shows.

• In your book you don’t mention falls and resulting fears. Did they not happen in your riding life so far?

Sure, they happened! For instance with Ferdinand (laughs). We got him when he was three years old. The following day I worked him on the lunge and then I mounted him. Beatrice and Benni (editorial remark: owner of the horse Beatrice Bürchler-Keller and Jessica’s brother Benjamin Werndl) were standing in the middle of the hall. When I started to canter Ferdinand got faster and faster. At one point Ferdinand was so fast in the turns that I really screamed for help. Benni just kept on filming (laughs).

• And how do you deal with that?

I am a courageous person by nature. I can jump over my shadow and mount again. But after this fall I really worked him one small step at a time, I rode him on the lead line and on the lunge. I can only recommend, always listen to your gut feeling. You have to jump over your shadow in order to push your boundaries. But I think it is extremely important that this is done in your own pace.

• The term ‘gratitude’ plays a central role in your book. You thank the horses and the people for very different influences. Is it important in your point of view to make yourself aware to whom you have to be thankful?

This is – indeed – an interesting question. Out of lack we always emulate what we do not have. Or we can look at the abundance of what we do have. There are lots of things for which everyone of us can be grateful. I have been shaken awake by my near-death experience (editorial remark: Jessica von Bredow- Werndl almost drowned in a swimming accident in 2010). Before that I had been working too much and was trapped in the proverbial hamster wheel. After that I started to take care of myself much more intensely, dealing with issues that are controlled within us. I work together with different coaches, which I find extremely interesting. If you feel a warm and profound gratitude; a positive vibration, which corresponds to happiness, is created. For me gratitude is a way of life. People who think that rich people are happier live with poverty-consciousness. For example: there are people who enjoy the view of a Ferrari passing by and there are others who grudge the driver for having this car. That is the difference. It does not change the situation itself.

• Do people tend to be angry about experiences instead of drawing something positive from every experience?

Yes, and I am just as angry. The faster I manage to view myself from the outside the better I can deal with this emotion. Pushing away emotions doesn’t work for me. At the Special of the German Championship I was extremely excited, but I didn’t try to push away the excitement instead I accepted it. I knew that when I am excited I can concentrate extremely well. I’m wide awake. Perceiving helps me but I am also constantly developing. I made up my mind to stay reflective all my life. But that does not mean that I don’t make mistakes or that I don’t get angry.

• In your book you come back quite often to one horse: Renommée. With him you rode the final of the Nürnberger Burgpokal in 2009. You trained him up to Grand Prix level but in the end you were advised to sell him. You say that sometimes you ask yourself whether you would have ridden him differently and more successfully with your current knowledge. Do you regret having sold him?

I am not angry about any horse we have sold. All of them were temporary gifts, in line with my development at that time. Today I would ride him differently. I was not so far at that point. Therefore it would have made no sense to keep him. At that time I did not understand how important it is to me to make my horses proud. That is only possible with exuberant praise. I did not do that back then, but I was not confident in myself either.

• Is belief in oneself and in the horse a crucial basis for success?

Yes, I think so. I think the horses mirror us. When we are fine and have a healthy self-confidence it is easier to give love, trust and joy. Sometimes you can just be without being good or significant. That is what I also call self-esteem. And I try to pass this on to the horses as well.

Interview by Reiter Revu International

Photo by Hippo Foto

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