Look behind the scene
The most famous and loved Ring Master of international best jumping shows. With no less than 38 years of experience in the competition fields, Pedro Cebulka knows better than anyone else the world of horses
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Riders, trainers, grooms, horse owners, sponsors, judges ... they all know him, they all respect him and they all greet him warmly. In the world of equestrian competitions he is appreciated and his presence in the arena contributes to making a competition even more prestigious. Pedro Cebulka, 62, German born and of Canadian adoption, he has a Spanish first name, a Polish last name, a German passport, a Dutch wife, and a home in Canada. He speaks seven languages, sings and also plays many musical instruments.
But his job, as Ring Master, is to manage the 'behind the scenes' of a competition and to ensure that everything runs smoothly with punctuality, order and precision in compliance with the rules governing equestrian sport.
Pedro has everything under control, with one eye on the clock and one on the riders in the trial field who are preparing to enter the competition at the right time. He accompanies them to the entrance of the field and follows their course but at the same time he is ready to accompany the next horse into the arena. A tireless beautiful presence, he is a point of reference for the riders who wait for his signal. At the end of the competition he accompanies the pairings onto the arena for the awards ceremony and follows them right up to the end of the last lap of honour. His achievements include the Olympics in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Hong Kong 2008 and London 2012; the World Championships of 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014, many World Cup finals and the best CSIO ... The organising committees ask for him and he plans his competitive calendar alternating days of intense work all around the world with relaxing periods spent at his home in the woods in Canada, in Invermere, with his wife Janet, of Dutch origin, rider, and riding instructor, and with their two daughters, who both also ride horses.
Born in Vessen, a rural town near Hamburg and Hanover, Germany, Pedro grew up in a simple family. From a young age Pedro showed a great desire to work and to succeed. After completing his studies in economics, he worked in a bank by day and by night in a friend's pub. But Pedro wanted to see the world and so at the age of 23 he decided to leave his work for a while and to go to South America for a few months in search of new work experiences. In 1977 during one of his journeys, he found himself at Spruce Meadows seeking work as a carpenter. It was there that he had his first encounter with the equestrian competitions and where his work with horses began. He started off as an assistant to the Ring Master, Albert Kley, doing everything: he cleaned the horse boxes, he helped run the stables, he translated for those who couldn't speak the language, he assisted in creating the courses, he was the speaker and he worked alongside the grooms and the riders thereby gradually building the foundations for his future in the world of horses ... and today he is the best known and loved Ring Master around the world.
"I love horses and I love my job. The fact of being behind the scenes has enabled me to get to know the riders well, all their horses and the grooms; I see the relationship between them, I sense the emotions and moods at any time – says Pedro – Many riders have become my good friends. My job is essentially to keep the horses and riders safe both on the competition field and on the warming arena. In order to ensure their absolute protection, I have learned about every aspect, every corner of the area in which the competition takes place, every smallest nuance. If I have a problem I talk to the judges and they help me to solve it. I have a good relationship and good relations with everyone. I relate to people in order to give people not only a professional performance but also moments of fun, although when I enter into the heart of the work I pay the utmost attention to every detail. My job is also to interact and to act as an intermediary between the riders, the judges, the show director, the organising committees, the course designer, in short between everyone involved. Before the competition I carefully study every detail and meticulously examine the starting order. I know the habits of the horses and riders and I try to plan everything to ensure they enjoy the utmost organisation and I give them all the support they need. My job is to make things run smoothly on the field and to carefully observe that the horses are respected but I never intervene personally. If there is a problem I speak to the relevant person, in particular the stewards. I am a great believer in welfare and in clean sport, in mutual respect, in moral values and in sporting ethics and I always try to create harmony between everyone.
I arrive at the competitions a couple of days before they start in order to closely follow the preparations and to get a clear idea of the work I will be undertaking into which I invest all my efforts 24 hours a day. Today many organising committees request my attendance but I choose around 15 or 16 important competitions per year, those that I love most. The rest of the time I spend at my house in the woods near the lake in Canada with my family. I love nature and the simple and healthy life. In winter, when the cold weather at home becomes too bitter, we move in Mexico and we live on the beach and go swimming every day from December to March! This lifestyle fills me with positive energy, an energy that I then transmit through my work. A joie de vivre, positivity, a respect for life and morality. I love peace and I also try to transmit this serenity in my work. I always try to diffuse the tension and to make things simple…”. Pedro Cebulka is a deeply spiritual person with an extraordinary sensitivity, perceived by the horses and the riders alike. Behind his imposing figure, his engaging smile, his always spontaneous banter, his spontaneous likeability, there lies a huge heart that expresses love for all forms of life and for nature. In his actions there is his spirituality that he transmits through the world of equestrian sports with his reassuring presence.