"What It Takes To Be A Champion"
A Conversation With Chester Weber
Chester Weber enjoyed a tremendously successful 2008 season. He won every selection trial and the USEF National Championship at home, as well as CAI-A Riesenbeck, the German International Driving Derby at Riesenbeck, and third place at Aachen (winning the dressage) abroad. He capped it all off with a silver medal winning performance at the World Championships at Beesd, Netherlands, in September.
TRAINING - PHILOSOPHY OF WORKING
I've driven the same six horses for the past two years, since the WEG in Aachen. Boy W, Grumus (aka Mecki), Jamaica, Para, Rolex W, and Senate. Those six have been part of the entire success.
I drive and train the horses myself, with the assistance of Olof Larsson doing basic work at home; Taren Lester does some longeing and Malin Zimmerman rides them a bit. All horsemen and women that achieve greatness are ruthless when it comes to culling and selecting.
I ask a hard question of horses, and what I ask is, are you good enough to win a medal with? We have to share that goal. I've been doing this for a long time, and I have a pretty good idea now. Character is really important; problems there always seem to let you down, and always at the wrong time. You can develop character in a horse, but if he has a bad character you can't improve him.
COMBINED DRVING - A TEAM SPORT
This is a team sport, and Team Weber did some interesting things this summer. Olof has been a big part of the team for nearly ten years. Taren is good, too. I try to be as correct as I can with the team; that's important. There's mutual respect there. And I can't forget my biggest secret, my wife, My Elisabeth Weber, the best sounding board a driver could have.
Michael [Freund] and I sat down after being 3rd at Aachen, and we talked about how to get better. For some, the answer is often a different horse. But we didn't have horse problems; and I had some good horses at home, too, good depth. So what's going to get us to the place where we can really win? Michael does a great job training horses and gets the technical aspects flawlessly.
I started working with Eva Pfaff, a German woman who was a professional tennis player for about ten years. Eva facilitated conversations between Michael and me, helped him answer questions that were a little deep, and that was part of the reason for the season's success. Eva never came to a horse show with me, she simply understands sports. Tennis is a hobby, so she worked with me on the tennis court. It was extremely helpful.
There is no doubt in my mind that the team of people around me is the best in the world. They all have their strengths, and it is the synergy where the results come from. We will out organize anyone on any day. Just try to beat us!
Championships especially are physically and mentally exhausting. You need to be at your physical best on Saturday, and both physically and mentally prepared on Sunday. I get away from my horses before a big show. I drive in the forest on Friday morning and Sunday evening, but I go away physically and mentally for the weekend, take a break. Moreover, no alcohol for me three weeks before a show. Charge your batteries before you compete at the top. If your tank is empty you will get beat!
Walker, H. (2008). Driving Digest Magazine: What It Takel To Be A Champion. Issue 156,
P. 38 - 39. www.drivingdigest.com