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The Story Behind King Edward’s Avant-Garde Bridle Style

Denbosch, Netherlands - March 10, 2024. Henrik Von Eckermann of Sweden riding King Edward competes in the 1.60m Rolex Grand Prix at the 2024 Rolex Dutch Masters. ©Atlas Media Canada/Mark Spowart

King Edward’s crown is missing something.

If you noticed his new bridle set up at the Longines League of Nations in Riyadh last month or in the Rolex Grand Prix in s’Hertogenbosch the other week, it looks a little bare in front. The 14-year-old gelding is showing sans brow band and with an extra throat latch.

It doesn’t take detective work to conclude the World no. 1 has an aversion to second best. (See: von Eckermann’s face post podium in Holland.) So, the Swede seeks perfection in the details, and unsurprisingly, King Edward is an ultra-sensitive ride from bridle to boots.

“He’s delicate with his head. For example, if a fly lands on his face he doesn’t like it at all. When he’s in the field we have to really put the [fly] mask and sheet on and everything, because if a fly comes he starts running,” said von Eckermann.

If a fly can send King Edward into sensory overload, it’s no surprise that he might have an opinion on the brow band, too.

More telling still though is what the unusual bridle setup suggests about von Eckermann’s program with his Olympic, World and European team gold winning partner and how he’s maintained his 18 months and counting reign as the world’s best: acute attention to detail.

“The horse has changed through the years and we always look to be better and perfect every little detail which could make the horse feel 120%, and he’s very sensitive so I always try small things all the time,” said von Eckermann, adding that the brow band has no real purpose.

“For me, the brow band has no real function and he doesn’t really like when the bridle comes to the ears, so I try to put it a little bit further back, and that’s why the brow band was too short and had to be off,” said von Eckermann.

According to Einstein, energy cannot be created or destroyed, and while he was a physicist and not a show jumper the double throat latch suggests the theory applies to bridles, too. Perhaps the topside of his setup gives an illusion of lacking stability, but the underside has it covered.

With 20 five star victories and nearly €3.3 million in earnings together (Jumpr App), von Eckermann’s strategy is clearly one that pays. After coming second their past three Grands Prix, you have to wonder: what will he tweak next?

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