Christian Ahlmann & Judy Ann Melchior







For show jumping’s power couple, Judy Ann Melchior and Christian Ahlmann, the horses are everything. Just as being able to compete in the same shows.


By Camilla Alfthan



You’re surrounded with some of the world’s best horses. But which horse is your favorite ?


Christian Ahlmann : The best horse is the one that does best in the competitions. But the best horse for me is Costa, because he brought me up. He was my first successful horse. I rose to an international level thanks to him and he made me a European champion. I’m really thankful for what he did for me and for my whole career. That is why he is my favorite horse. For the moment I have Taloubet. He is amazing and perhaps even better but Costa will remain my favorite horse for the rest of my life. Today, he’s on the fields at home with the ponies.


Judy Ann Melchior : My favorite horse is Levisto. I had him now for 15 years so he’s going towards retirement. I think I have one more year with him. I’ve had other succesful horses but for me he’s really a big friend. He’s easy to ride, he fits well in my system and he’s mentally a fighter; so for me he’s really everything.


We always see you together at the shows. How long have you been a couple ?


Christian : We’re now together for five years. We know each other from the shows. I’m ten years older. So we were not always on the same ones. Now we are a family. Our boy was born in August. It was a big step to have a child. Now we have a life together. Generally, I think it’s really important that your partner has something to do with the business or with horses; otherwise its going to be pretty difficult in the end.


Judy Ann: We’re lucky that we can often ride at the same shows and that we can travel as a family together to do the same stuff.


How did you deal with your pregnancy ?


Judy Ann: I stopped riding immediately because I did not want to take the risk. And I started immediately afterwards. We have a maternity nanny who follows us around. In the daytime, she is at the shows with us and in the evening she goes to our hotel.


Has it affected the way both of you ride – are you more careful ?


Christian: I think it is the same. Maybe for Judy it is harder to come back. But in the end you dont think about your children when you are in the ring.You take the same risks and the same horses as before. For me it is for sure like that. And for Judy I think it is the same.


“In the end you dont think about your children when you are in the ring.You take the same risks and the same horses as before.”


Judy Ann : We don’t ride because we think it is dangerous. For us it is something natural. But I did stop for nine months which interrupted the show rythm. After one month I was doing shows again and I’ve been quite successful. Maybe not competing for the first place but I’ve been placed well in the big classes. But you do loose a lot of rythm in nine months. So it is something you have to build up again. It’s only natural. For every job you have to rebuild after such a break.


Christian: For horses and riders it is the same. If you’re out for a while you’re not a hundred percent on. It takes time to get back.


Will you have another one ?


Judy Ann: We’ll have a bigger family but right now it is perfect to just be the three of us. The bigger your family gets the more difficult it gets.


Do you ever fight over your results from the shows ?


Christian : We compete against each other all the time. It doesn’t make us fight, for sure not. I think it is the only sport where women and men compete together.


Judy Ann: When we’re both at the shows you have much more chance that at least one of us was good. So when Christian was riding alone for nine months his results were terrible. But when we’re together there’s alsways more chance that one will win.


“When Christian was riding alone for nine months his results were terrible. When we’re together there’s always more chance that one will win.”


Christian : We share our horses. Judy is riding a horse for me at this show. I have Taloubet which was her horse before. I have to find out with which rider he has the best results. Sometimes with her, sometimes with me. It’s not really clear from the beginning. Judy has a different way of riding. I ride with much more pressure and my body has much more weight. For some horses it is good, for some horses it’s less good. When you ride in the same class, you walk the course, and you have your way of thinking, you talk about it and try to make a good plan for both of us. If you’re alone it is much more difficult to do it.


Judy Ann : We always talk about the sport and we always train our horses together and the whole logistic side is one. We both know each others situation really well and we know each others horses. Christian has been teaching me.


Christian : I train her more than she trains me but it doesn’t mean that we don’t always talk about it; she asks me and I ask her, it goes both ways. It is really good for both of us.


At the Gucci Masters Christian won the boys against girls class. What do you think about this particular concept? Does it help popularize the sport?


Christian : It really makes it clear for everybody that we have a sport where it is boys against girls all the time. This is something really special in our sport. We have the same classes and the same competitions.


Judy Ann : For the riders that particular class does not make any difference. But for the audience it is fun. They were very successful at making an elegant show. They have created a lot of interest in the public. It’s a good place for Gucci to come out with its image.


Christian : The sport has changed a lot in the past few years. Normally, our base is Belgium or Germany, and we travelled around shows in that area. Now we go to Brazil, to America, to Asia…it is a big difference from a few years ago.

I think the horses can handle the trip really well. They don’t need two-three days to be back to normal. If they dont know what it is it can be really difficult. The Grand Prix horses have a certain age, they know the circuit and they can handle it well. If you have a 7-8 year old who tries it for the first time they can get travel illness –  you have to be really careful.


Interview at the Gucci Masters, Paris, December 2012. 


Two of a kind


The couple at the 2013 World Cup Finals in Gothenburg