Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Therese Skanz Westlund and I live outside of Stockholm. I'm 19 years old and I've loved horses and riding for as long as I can remember. I've always been around horses, and when I was in preschool I got to sit on a pony for the first time. I had a childminder and the daughter in the family was crazy with horses, and then it went downhill. After that it was up in the saddle. I started at a riding school in 2009 and I rode there up until 2013 when we bought our first horse. I have a disease called scoliosis, which means that my back got rigid surgery. I have screws, a back brace and hooks in my back so it can be as straight as possible.
I got the surgery done in 2014. I had to take a break from riding for a year and then a long period of rehab, which led to me missing a lot of riding during that time of my life. With the surgery it's hard to say how long I've been riding for, but we concluded that it's been 9 years. My family and I now have our first young horse Benoni, that we are producing ourselves. I've taken him from 50cm jumps to 120cm and 130cm jumps during practice in 1 year, so we're up and running and learn more and more for every day. We've owned a total of three horses in our family and I really hope that there will be more, because I don't have any plans on putting the saddle on the shelf forever for many, many years.
You've started a podcast together with your friend and colleague, tell us about it.
Yes exactly, my friend Ebby and I started a podcast called "Ryttarmotivation" for everyone who is a part of the equestrian sport. We both have been through anything and everything within the equestrian sport and we really think that you should talk more about subjects that often aren't talked about. Our first episode is partly about the trash talk we hear in our everyday life, which we maybe hear about, but it's not often that we get solutions on how to remove the trash talk. Because nothing is impossible and the negativity within the equestrian sport isn't something that people should feel like they have to live with. There are solutions and we've been through a lot of the things that people ask about.
The goal is to motivate the youth, especially to continue with riding even though it sometimes can be really hard. We're planning in upcoming episodes to talk about subjects that affect us all. We also want people to get a different image of the equestrian sport and how it can be, since we want to make a positive change and see more and more people change their negative habits and change it into motivation and positivity. The podcast is probably a big key to reaching more teamwork within the sport, and to remove negativity at competitions.
Your Instagram is a lot about motivate and praise other girls, which we love!! Do you think that generally us girls are good at it or is it something that we need to get better at within the equestrian community?
I'd probably not say that we're generally good at it within the equestrian community, but it has gotten much better from what I can see. But it's hard to say if it's just because I'm older and I've realized that nothing can get to me, as long as I don't accept it, or if it's the sport that has changed. I still think there's still a lot of negative competition within the sport, and it's probably relatively hard to remove. Everyone has different conditions, both physically, mentally, economically and socially which are four factors that are very important to "make it". I think we all need to become more dedicated to make the equestrian community as positive as possible.
Something that is important to point out too is just because we all have different conditions, it doesn't mean that it's engraved into stone who will "make it" at who won't. Anything is possible if you just believe in yourself. I also think that the biggest problem isn't the people we surround us with but more about ourselves and how open we are to different things.
I also think that if everyone were to fight together, the key to success would be more accessible to anyone. Because we all need someone that we know has our back, that can answer our questions and put our mind to ease. That was something I lacked when I was younger, someone my age who was ready to put down their own time and energy to help the younger kids who look up to them and maybe are taking classes at a riding school. It's so important that we all help each other so that we all can have our moment in the spotlight. I love to motivate others and see other people, old and young, that's what I live for. I hope that more people get that instinct within the sport so that we can achieve so much more. We just have to be ready to fight together.
Is there anything about the atmosphere within the equestrian sport that you would like to change?
There's probably a lot to change, but it's hard to see the atmosphere in just one way. A lot of it is about how the person sees the sport. I definitely think the money aspect is something we could tone down a bit, but it's always an active question. I would probably rather see to more positive changes than the negative things we need to remove. Because if you push positivity in front of negativity, there will be a change. I would want to see more adults, that are invested in the sport, giving more to the younger. Maybe reach out their hand and show that "I see you, you're amazing just the way you are and I'm willing to be here for you.". Give the younger people a chance to be just as admired as we want to be for our work in the barn, for example.
I would generally want to see more girl power in the barn. If you notice someone that's in a bad mood, don't be too caught up in yourself and maybe ask if the person is doing okay and see what you can do to help. We all are a part of this sport together and I don't think there should be room to be self-centered. To share your knowledge, thoughts and opinions is something you gain more from than being self-centered. I also think that I as an "adult" that have more experience have a responsibility to show the younger kids that I'm willing to help. There is no reason for me to carry around my knowledge and not share it with others. I love to motivate younger kids and make them feel like I see them and their hard work. I try to get other people to do that too, it's a trend I want to start to make the sport more positive. It's a step closer to getting a sport that accepts everyone, regardless of conditions.
Instagram profile: @tewestlund
Our ambition is to create a more free thinking about the equestrian sport, and to let loose on old traditions. Both regarding attitude and stereotypes about how you should act and dress. Our company is built by women, for women.
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