August 28, 2012
By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Select showmanship exhibitor Roger Snall of Sweden exits the finals August 28. (Journal photo)
Roger Snall of Sweden had a dream: He wanted to compete at the AQHA world championship level.
He was qualified to compete at the Adequan Select World Championship Show, so a few months ago, he asked about leasing a horse to compete in Amarillo this year.
He ended up with AQHA Professional Horseman Robin Frid as his trainer, and he leased Ima Moxie Man, a bay gelding who has finished many times in the top-10 at the World Show and has been shown by sisters Tiina and Leena Volmer.
Roger sat down with The American Quarter Horse Journal after making the finals in showmanship to talk about Quarter Horses, Sweden and how he plans to take his new knowledge back home with him after making his dream come true.
At press time, Roger had finished eighth in showmanship and still had horsemanship to go.
Journal: How long have you been riding Quarter Horses?
Roger: About 13 years.
Journal: How did you get started?
Roger: My wife (Catharina) was riding English, and I was scuba-diving. I told her that if she wanted me to ride, she was going to have to dive. But she never started diving.
Journal: How did you get started then?
Roger: I got started with my wife English riding, and then we both went to a western show in Sweden. I thought it was much more fun to look at and maybe to ride it, so we bought two saddles for our Swedish horses, not Quarter Horses, and we started to ride in the woods. It was really comfortable in that saddle, so after a while we bought some Quarter Horses and started to ride them, showing and everything.
Journal: Do you remember your first competition?
Roger: I do. It was awful. I did the reining with a horse – she was 8 years old, but she could do it – and I think I was in four or five classes in reining. (The pattern) started with a (four-turn) spin. It was supposed to be only two classes, but I did five spins, and then I did five spins and I did five spins, and I could hear my wife yelling at me from the audience. So she had to go and pay me into more classes and finally I got the four spins. That was awful.
Journal: When did you get the idea to come to the Adequan Select World Championship Show to compete?
Roger: I always have a goal. If I don’t have goals, I would stop doing things. I want to (reach those goals) as quick as I can, but I will always try and see what level I’m at. I have been to the Swedish national (championships) on Swedish Quarter Horses. And we’ve gone to Germany (to compete), because in Sweden we have 3,000 or maybe a few more Quarter Horses, but in Germany, they have 30,000. There you can what level you are on.
We have been to the European Championship (of American Quarter Horses) and other places in Europe. This was my new goal. To come here and do it. It was my only goal.
Journal: So how did you connect with Robin?
Roger: We have a really great trainer, Mark Schaeffer. We take clinics with him four or five times a year here in the United States and in Europe. He travels a lot, so he’s in Europe for a month or two. We catch up with him when he’s in Europe.
At one clinic, I told him that I really wanted to go to the World Show, because I was qualified for the (Adequan Select World) and also for the AQHA World Championship Show. I chose this one because I think we have more fun. The young people in the other World Show, they are more into (their own runs), but here, if you do something good, then everybody says hi and it’s really nice.
Mark Schaeffer said, “Of course,” but I don’t think he took me seriously. Just before he went home, I told him again that I didn’t know how to do it, but I really wanted to go to the World Show. He looked at me and said, “Are you serious about this?”
Yes, of course! It’s a dream, so I had to do it. I must be at the mecca of Quarter Horses.
And then it took a few days, and I got an email from Mark that said I got you a trainer and his name is Robin Frid, and I said, Robin Frid! I knew he’s really good at horsemanship, and his wife, Jenny, is really good in showmanship.
And then I said, "Yeah, I have to go for it now." And then I got an email from Robin that he would be pleased to help me do that, and I checked that I could lease a horse, but Robin knew everything and helped me a lot. And then, he mailed me and said, “I have a really great horse, but you must hurry, because this horse will go.” I mailed him directly, “I’ll take it.”
Journal: So you didn’t know Ima Moxie Man’s record?
Roger: No. We went (to Robin’s facility in Denton, Texas) in June, and I trained for five days. He is a really wonderful horse.
Journal: You clicked right away?
Roger: Not directly, because he is a huge horse. My horse at home, a little reiner, I have to use a lot of power to get him right, and I thought if this horse is so huge, I must need more power, but it was the opposite. He’s a really smooth horse, and he can really look good. He’s a wonderful horse.
Journal: You made the finals in showmanship. People have been coming here for years without making the finals.
Roger: It’s amazing. It’s incredible.
Journal: What are your expectations going into the finals?
Roger: Expectations are just to do as well as I can with the pattern. And then we will see.
Journal: Is your wife here?
Roger: No, because we have been showing a lot this year, in Germany and Sweden and here. We have our own company, and we thought it was too long to be away from the company, so she is at home looking at the computer. And drinking champagne after my showmanship. Every neighbor, too, in a group at the house looking at the computer and yelling. It’s really fun.
Journal: When you go home and tell people about your trip, what will you say was the best part?
Roger: Everything. I like Americans. They are friendly, they are kind, they help you, and also Robin and Jenny. They are focused on trying to teach as much as possible in a little time. I’m only happy that I came here. They want me to do a great job. They really take the parts of the patterns and say you have to think about this and this. They’re really nice, also. And all the people who train with Robin and Jenny.
Journal: What is the best thing that you’ve learned from Robin and Jenny?
Roger: Almost everything. I was at the Swedish nationals just before I came here, and I took the silver medal in showmanship, and my wife took the gold, so we were really happy. But I know when I go home, I have a lot of tips for my wife. I think we can be much better.
I must say I have a wonderful horse in Ima Moxie Man, and Tiina is so happy that I leased him, because she thinks that we are great together.
Journal: Did you work with Robin other than in June?
Roger: Yes, I came four days before the (Adequan Select World) started for training. And I think this is amazing in that so little time with this horse, I accepted him and he accepted me, and it’s marvelous.
Journal: Do you want to take him home?
Roger, laughing: I thought of that yesterday when I went to bed. I wondered how much he is. But I think I have so much in my pocket now when I get home that I can get my horse better.
Journal: Now this goal is checked off, what’s next?
Roger: I don’t know! This was a great goal to do, so I don’t have any just now, but it’s coming, because I must have goals.