Eric Oese won the European championships in August 2017. The maths and physics teacher showed four solid rounds which earned him the gold medal. We talked to the two times German champion:
Congratulations to your European champion title! Your freestyles are always part of out top ten list. Who is working with you on the detailed and theatrical exercises, outfits and music?
Thank you for the compliment. I work with my coach and lunger Andreas Bäßler on the choreography and composition of my freestyles. Of course, not everything is developed at the same time. We change things and think about it, so the freestyle is develops over the year.
For the outfits I have a very big help: Ms Gutermuth and her daughter. Most times I draw a first draft of the outfit and the Guthermuths bring it to life. The two are really fantastic. I am very lucky.
Is it hard to bring yourself to perform as characters like Gollum or a ghost, or is it fun?
I choose the topics so that they give great pleasure to me. Especially in the case of Gollum and the ghost I was always glad to show these freestyles in front of an audience. So, it is not like self-conquest, only the first competition is exciting because I don’t know beforehand if the audience will like it.
Your compulsory and freestyle exercises are so accurate. Does your physics background help you?
Well, physics is certainly always involved, since we cannot switch it off. Although I analyzed some movements apart (which isn’t always good) you need only some common household physics. A good perception of the body and comprehension of the movement sequences are better than to solve differential equations. Though, I recommend everyone to open their hearty for physics in school…
Since 2012 you compete almost entirely with the horse Calvador. Is he your only training partner? Is it a limitation to have only one horse?
I think to have a second horse is certainly an advantage but not obligatory. During the season I train two times per week on Calvador and during the winter he always gets a longer break of 6 to 8 weeks from vaulting. This procedure proved itself in practice.
In the end every vaulter wishes for good traing conditions to train as much as possible. But since we are not professional athletes, we have to make it fit in with our normal lifes.
Why did you not compete with Calvador and your lunger Andreas Bäßler at the German championship?
Calvador wasn’t completely fit after the European championships, so we wanted to spare him the exertions at ther German championships. Wonderfully, I got great help by the Wagners from Schenkenberg who uncomplicated and very faithfully put forward their horse Giovanni for me.
You vaulted during school days, your studies and since 2014 next to your teaching work at a high school on a very high level. How is it possible to combine both?
I don’t know if it combines well but for me it always worked. At this point I always like to claim that I am a lucky pig: I always had the luck of being able to do what I wanted. I got that one university place which I wanted and was able to teach at that grammar school I wanted. Sometimes the sport opens doors and a lot of people are open and willing to support you. I was always very grateful to my headteacher for her personal commitment and her support, exempting me for international competitions.
Do the pupils get a day off when you are at competitions on Fridays?
Of course the pupils got some tasks from me that so they don’t go short and all in all there are only three or four days per school year when I am not there. Other people are sick for longer periods of time. I had only one day of illness – on that day the pupils actually thought I was at a competition.
What do the pupils say about your vaulting?
I don’t think that all pupils are very interested in my vaulting. A few ask how it went at the competiton or other congratulate me on good results. Once there were two sixth graders knocking on the door of the physics preparation room and asked for an autograph. On the other hand, some pupils roll their eyes when I suggest we could do something with horses during our school trip.
What is the difference between teaching vaulting in the riding arena and teaching in high school?
In our club I help to train the young vaulters, but next to my own training, I have not much time for it. I would say the difference is: In the riding arena, I am not the boss.
As a teacher, you face the challenge of helping young people find their way and develop. How do you think vaulting helped you in your own development into the adult you are today? What do you think is the biggest contribution the sport can make to a child’s development?
Difficult question. The sport gives one a lot. I am able to pursue a goal, I am able not concentrate and work under pressure, I can work disciplined, I can shoulder responsibility, I am able to organize myself. These are attributes which the sport encouraged, I think. I just thought about what is the most important thing, the sport taught me. But actually there are so many things: Success is no accident and you cannot succeed on your own; if things are not running properly there are many people to support one; vaulting should be fun; what you do with passion is promising; persistence always pays off with some endurance; … As you can see, I like to advertise: everyone should do equestrian vaulting.