Wellington, FL - The 2016 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is pleased to welcome The Axel Johnson Group as the title sponsor of week seven CDI-W 3* competition at The Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Competition in Wellington, FL, runs February 24-28, featuring the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W 3*, presented by The Axel Johnson Group as the highlight "Friday Night Lights" event on February 26.
For Antonia Ax:son Johnson, business and horses are part of the same family legacy. Johnson is a fourth generation Chairman and Owner of Swedish based company, The Axel Johnson Group, as well as the Founder and Owner of top equestrian breeding and training farm, Lövsta Stud Farm. She grew up with an entrepreneurial mind and a love of all things equine that have been instilled in her family for over 100 years. Rooted in what Johnson calls a yin and yang alignment of these personal interests, she has become a leader in the development of modern equestrian sport.
Continuing the family legacy, The Axel Johnson Group proudly returns as title sponsor of week seven's CDI-W 3* competition at AGDF.
"When the Global Dressage Festival was introduced in Wellington five years ago, there was a sparse and scattered audience," Johnson said of the event. "Each year, we have seen new spectators come to watch with a growing enthusiasm. The show has grown by some 30% a year and has definitely come to stay. We are proud to be sponsors to this terrific dressage hub, and now with some of the world's best riders in the limelight."
"I just love being here," Johnson added. "The winter months we spend here do wonders. The horses become happy, supple and athletic, and we feel the joy of being immersed in a magic world of horses. Every person we meet is here for a horse reason!"
Johnson's great grandfather originally founded the family business, a trading company known as A. Johnson & Co., in 1873. The business has since developed into a worldwide operation, employing more than 25,000 people internationally with a turnover of close to 20 billion USD. The businesses are mainly in the Nordic countries and the United States.
"When it comes to business, we can really join forces with many to talk about what the equestrian sport can teach us in a broader sense," Johnson noted. "For me, that includes perseverance and a long term perspective. Riding gives life focus, total concentration, unwavering commitment and the excitement of those magical moments that occur. If you are running a business that is exactly what you need."
Antonia Johnson's love of horses stems from many summers spent on a ranch in Nevada with her parents. Much later she began importing and breeding American Morgan horses in Sweden with her father. Later she developed a fascination with and deep respect for the art of dressage, and took her family's legacy in entrepreneurship to the next level.
On January 1st, 2000, Johnson formed a partnership with one of the world's top dressage riders, Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén, a six-time Olympian, currently ranked sixth in the world. Silfvén joined Johnson in building what is now the modern Lövsta Stud Farm and Johnson also took up dressage for the first time herself at the age of 50! With a fifth generation at the helm of the family business she now has time to ride two or three horses every morning.
Today, Lövsta Stud Farm is one of Sweden's leading stud farms. From a small beginning in a rebuilt cow barn with 12 stalls, Lövsta Stud Farm now has about 50 horses in total at two farms just north of Stockholm. The business includes a very successful stud station as well as competition activities at all levels from three-year-olds up to Grand Prix at the Olympics and World Championships. Lövsta supports young riders and young horses through the Lövsta Future Challenge Cup and is at the very forefront in sustainability, being the world's first environmentally certified stud and competition farm.
The vision for Lövsta from the beginning was to improve Swedish dressage by breeding, training and competing top quality horses and also by training and educating young riders. What began as a dressage operation then also moved into the sport of show jumping in Europe and abroad.
"This year I find that people are getting more and more curious about breeding," Johnson noted. "So many great horses are imported to the US, but what if there were to be a fine dressage breeding program here as well! We have brought one of our stallions, Benetton Dream, with us this year again. This serene and powerful horse has been very successful at the show this winter after two intense breeding seasons in Europe. If more horses were bred in the USA it would be a great boost to the sport."
Since five years back, a team of Lövsta riders and top horses have a winter camp at "Lövsta South" in Wellington, where the horses are trained and competed in the warm Florida sun. An unusual and rewarding project in Florida is Lövsta South's commitment to Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center in a specific project to support young people with special challenges by introducing them to the world of horses.
A new addition for 2016 is Lövsta Ranch, a workman style ranch house that Johnson had built right across the street form Lövsta South. The house serves as a gathering place for family, friends and colleagues. Johnson held a roof topping ceremony for 50 people as the final beams were raised, inaugurating the home and celebrating the workers who constructed the house.
The idea for Lövsta Ranch originated from Johnson's time spent in Nevada as a child, as well as her 70th birthday celebration at a ranch in Wyoming. Johnson has been a leader in developing equestrian sport in many disciplines and recently returned to her early love of western riding. She recently purchased a reining horse and a cutting horse that she rides out on the trails every day after a workout on her dressage horses.
Antonia Ax:son Johnson looks forward to fantastic competition this week as some of the world's best dressage horses and riders compete at AGDF. For more information and a complete competition schedule, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
For more information on The Axel Johnson Group, please visit https://axeljohnson.com/ as the Swedish site axeljohnson.se. For more information on Lövsta Stud Farm, please visit http://www.lovstastuteri.com/.