Cotswold Life talks to Yogi Breisner

PUBLISHED: 11:21 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:08 20 February 2013

Yogi Breisner - Photograph Courtesy of David Burton

Yogi Breisner - Photograph Courtesy of David Burton

As the countdown to this year's Blenheim International Horse Trials gathers pace, Yogi Breisner, world class performance manager and chef d'equipe to the British eventing team, kindly shares his personal insights and experiences of the event with ...

As the countdown to this year's Blenheim International Horse Trials gathers pace, Yogi Breisner, world class performance manager and chef d'equipe to the British eventing team, kindly shares his personal insights and experiences of the event with Cotswold Life

Yogi Breisner is a world class eventing and racing performance manager who was appointed as the British Eventing team coach in 2000, after a year as team leader. He is responsible for co-ordinating all four groups from pony to senior and under his guidance 8 golds, 6 silvers and 3 bronze medals have been secured.

Having grown up around horses and participated in competitions in Sweden, England and Ireland, he has lived in Tiddington, near Stratford-upon-Avon, for over 25 years. His many achievements include European team gold for Sweden in 1983, a Horse Society Fellowship in 1992 and, most recently, the Queens Award for services to equestrianism, which he was awarded last year.

In addition to coaching the GB Eventing team and working with National Hunt jockeys and horses, he also instructs at the Pony Club and audits rider training on a monthly basis as an examiner for the BHS fellowship. Yogi kindly took the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the joys of living in our region and the magic of Blenheim Horse Trials, for which Cotswold Life is once again media partner...

What influenced your decision to be based in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds?

Whilst living and competing here between 1978 and 1991 I spent most of my time at the Waterstock Training Centre to the north of Oxford. After meeting my wife we decided to buy a house in Tiddington, just one mile away. I liked (and still appreciate) the fact that the area is very central with good transport links and is full of natural features.

Have you been involved with the Blenheim International Horse Trials from the very beginning?

Yes. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to ride there as it started just as I was retiring. However, I attended the very first Trials - which at the time was just a novice one-day event - and I think I have been to all of them since. I usually walk the course with the riders giving them advice and encouragement and then spend some time watching them as they warm up their horses. Over the years I have also given talks in the hospitality marquees.

What have been your most memorable experiences at the Trials?

Seeing Blenheim achieve it's premier 3* status in 1999 was very good but the highlight for me was definitely hearing the applause and cheering as we collected our medals during the 2005 European Championships. In addition to a fantastic team gold, Zara Philips secured individual gold on her debut - an excellent achievement. The fact that we were at Blenheim made the experience all the more memorable.

The event always has, and I'm sure will continue to be, at the forefront of British eventing because of its excellent development courses, and I am pleased that Eric Winter is continuing the legacy established by Mike Etherington-Smith. As well as an extremely friendly and welcoming atmosphere it is a professionally run organisation and I must commend Mandy Hervieu for her achievements since taking over as Event Director.

It has been announced that this year's event will have an extra CIC3* class for 8/9 year old horses. For those of us with only a limited understanding of equine terminology, how does this differ from the CCI3* class and what should we be looking out for?

Since 2003/2004, strict rules state that the show jumping round must follow the cross-country in a CCI3* event. However, in a CIC3* class there is greater flexibility and the cross-country can follow the show-jumping stage, or even take place at the same time. The course also tends to be a bit shorter. The CIC3* event at Blenheim will provide a great opportunity to spot the stars of the future, as horses and riders who showcase well here are likely to go on to achieve even greater success.

Which riders do you think stand a good chance of winning this year?

There are many top riders who could win. William Fox-Pitt is always a challenger and on the right horse Mary King is definitely a contender for both the CCI3* and CIC3* titles. There will also be a number of lesser-known riders who will be keen to show what they are made of.

Can local media do more to support the event?

Press exposure is vital and I think the key is to get the message across that not only is it a great chance to see an exciting sport which has universal appeal to all ages, but it is also a wonderful day out in the country for the whole family. In addition to the eventing action, there is so much going on; from arena entertainment and activities to numerous tradestands - and of course it all takes place in the grounds of a beautiful palace which provides a stunning backdrop.

How does it feel to be described as an 'eventing guru'?

I have to admit that I've never really liked that expression but I have been called a lot of other things in my time so I take it as a compliment!

What would be your top tip for someone who dreams of replicating your achievements?

You really need the right horse to start with and then the time and patience to dedicate to its training and development. Once ready, it should not be making any mistakes.

If you had not followed this particular career path what do you think you would be doing now?
When I was younger I always wanted to be a vet so it is likely that I would be doing that now if I hadn't achieved success as a rider and trainer.

Finally, your real name is Lars Goran Breisner. When did you 'become' Yogi?

When I first arrived in England, my new friends found it difficult to pronounce Goran, which in Swedish is pronounced as 'Johan' or 'Yo-hann'. Whilst watching television one day, Yogi Bear came on and everyone joked that our names sounded similar. I have been known by the nickname Yogi ever since!

September 10-13 2009 at Blenheim Palace. Accompanied children 12 years and under may enter the event for free. Parking is complimentary.

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