Silvia Torresani, veterinarian, talks about her work with the horses of the Swedish team.
Sweden is without doubt currently the strongest nation in the world of show jumping
It is an exemplary nation not only for the sporting growth and results achieved in the top events, but for the extraordinary management of the horses combined with very scrupulous progression and programming.
The many victories and the longevity of their horses’ careers are the result not only of the riders and the horses’ individual qualities, but the outstanding synergic team work done to ensure that the horses are always in the best possible mental and physical form.
It is a team of outstanding professionals. One member of this team is called Silvia Torresani. Born in Riva del Garda, Italy, Silvia has for years live in Colloredo di Monte Albano, in the province of Udine, where together with her husband Dr. Massimo da Re, she manages the Bellavista farm, breeding and training horses. After graduating in Veterinary Medicine from Bologna University, Silvia then embarked on a series of studies abroad that completed her education and resulted in her becoming an integrated medicine vet. Chiropractic methods, acupuncture, physiotherapy and the TTouch method are ‘specialisations’ that therefore complete her veterinary training
and added to her personal gifts of sensitivity and empathy with horses paved the way for her.
Since integrated medicine veterinarians are greatly respected abroad, Silvia started to exercise her profession mainly in Europe and in particular in Scandinavian countries. Her clients included Sweden’s chef d’équipe Henrik Ankarcrona, and it was he who was the link between Silvia and the Swedish team.
«My very first show with the Swedish Team was the 2019 World Cup Final in Gothenburg where I was introduced to the riders and began to get to know them – says Silvia – The first official event with the team was in Rome where we won the Nations Cup, followed by wins in Falsterbo, Hickstead and Aachen».
From then on Silvia became a full member of the Swedish Team,
looking after the horses’ physical and mental wellbeing. We asked Silvia Torresani about the manner in which the horses are managed with reference also to the Tokyo Olympics where they looked in seriously exceptional athletic form.
Taking care of details
«The first thing is planning – explained Silvia – They are all very experienced riders. Peder Fredricson has also ridden in 3-Day Events. So they know their horses well and know what to do to get to an important show in good shape.
Considering the quality and fitness of these horses, it had been known for some time that those three would probably be selected for the top team for Tokyo and so by the end of 2020 and early in 2021, all three riders started to work towards that event. So they planned exactly what was right for their horses; when they should or should not jump, and I have to say that they were perfectly fit when we got to Tokyo. The horse that had jumped less than any of them was All In since in any case he doesn’t need to. Peder and All In now know one another in an impeccable way, Peder knows everything about the horse. I spent almost twenty days with these horses, starting with the quarantine period in Germany including the journey to the Olympics and was able to get to know them in-depth so as to arrive in Tokyo with the horses on top form as far as I was concerned. Helping them before the flight and as soon as we landed in Tokyo was essential so as to then work on details with the riders; every time they rode they talked to me about their sensations and consequently I tried to establish a specific treatment plan for each horse. The better I get to know a horse the better I understand its needs. Some need treatment close to the class while others need more help afterwards».
A horse’s life
How are these horses that jump in so many shows taken care of? «They are treated as horses – answers Silvia – Peder is away every week and therefore rarely at home. The horses are entrusted to excellent grooms who also ride them and they are all put out in paddocks as much as possible together with other horses. All In is always with another horse, they are very good friends.
King Edward and Indiana, ridden by Henrick von Eckermann and Malin Baryard, also lead the same kind of life, they are always out at grass living the lives of horses. They are also trained outdoors as much as possible. Peder, for example, has had a track built in the woods with uphill and downhill areas where the horses get fit. So their preparation is not only in an arena, but also as is correct alternating training, hacking out a great deal, because this way one doesn’t only get them physically fit but also mentally fresh and last but not least coordination is also improved.
Unfortunately too many people are still worried that horses will get hurt out in paddocks, but they only hurt themselves when they are not used to being put out. They get hurt when only put out occasionally. In any case, even just half an hour every day in a paddock is certainly better than nothing. When a horse is used to being out in a paddock it hurts itself just as it can inside a stable. One can have an accident in the stables or anywhere else».
Focusing on the athlete-horse
“I believe in integrated medicine – explains Silvia – and therefore I add chiropractic care, acupuncture and physiotherapy to traditional medicine.
With the team my work is seriously planned. I see the horses jumping at shows at least once, travelling with them or joining them at the various shows.
The work I do is very detailed and it’s my job to relax the horses and have them physically as well as mentally ready because, once they are physically ready, one must worry about their mental state.
In Tokyo I treated all the horses after the competition so, since classes were held in the evening, I would stay in the stables until 1 AM because all the horses did stretching as well as acupuncture so as to relax them and allow them to sleep well, because people never think about how horses sleep but rest is essential for them too so as to recover energy for the next day.
In my opinion it is essential to get to know horses deeply and establish a relationship with them. I always work with the horses loose in the stable, because I try and establish a relationship of reciprocal trust.
After jumping a class it often happens that a horse has a muscle contracture and might not allow one to treat it easily, but if they trust me they allow me to do my job. For me this is great proof of trust and a great result. It is nice because horses tell one many things ̧ each in its own way will tell us how it feels physically and mentally.» says Silvia Torresani as our chat draws to an end.
First of all, horses are treated ‘as horses’ . What matters most is planning
This is a wonderful job and one giving great satisfaction because it allows one to communicate with horses. Of course one must have sensitivity and a degree of predisposition as well as scientific training.
It is certainly an essential element within a team taking its horses to top-level shows dedicating every possible attention to them and basically treating them ‘as horses’.