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Introducing... Malin Baryard

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15:30 CEST+02:00
Introducing...is The Local's weekly glance at the big fish in the brimming pond of Swedish celebrity. This week we take a seat in the arena to watch show jumper Malin Baryard clear the fences and forget to wear her jodhpurs

Who is she and why is she famous?

Malin Baryard has been Sweden's leading show jumper for quite some time now. Horseback heroics aside, she also has an eye for business, a nose for perfection and an ear for music.

If she has a head for heights she'll go far.

That she has, old bean. She and Butterfly Flip have performed countless gravity-defying jumps together over the years.

Butterfly Flip? Is that her horse? It sounds more like an improbable ice-skating manoeuvre.

No, it's her favourite horse. Flippan, as Baryard calls her, is a quality mare and never one to refuse a fence. She may even have provided the inspiration for a hit single the show jumper had a couple of years back.

She had a hit single? What was it called?

The song was a collaboration between Baryard and house music outfit Spånka NKPG and was called 'Do you wanna ride?'. It was a racy little number to say the least, with Baryard whispering her lascivious double entendres to the accompaniment of a cracked whip.

Adding to the sense of general moral decay, the song's performance was further enhanced by the class A subtitle 'I love horse'.

Well I hope it never reached the ears of poor Butterfly Flip because it sounds utterly ghastly.

Lighten up, you old nag. It was just a bit of fun. And it wasn't the first time Baryard had used titillation to great effect. By 1996 she was already a star among the horsey set, but after that year's Stockholm Horse Show she became a national celebrity.

Why? Did she have fewer than four faults?

In many people's view, her ride was absolutely faultless. The young woman on the horse's back had left her jodhpurs and riding jacket behind in the changing room. The following day, the show jumper with the black underwear was all over the papers.

You wouldn't see it at Badminton!

That's Badminton's loss. After many years in the sporting Siberia, horse-riding was suddenly back in the national psyche, and it was all down to Baryard's equestrian antics.

What has she done apart from ride half naked and sing inappropriate songs?

She has done plenty, you jockey-baiting judgmentalist.

Name something then, you Baryard-boosting deviant.

Where to start? She and her dad run two companies: one for prize money and the buying and selling of horses, the other for sponsorship. Baryard has a large portfolio of sponsorship deals.

One is more lucrative than the others however: Hennes & Mauritz, for whom she models occasionally, pay her an undisclosed annual fee which is said to help considerably with paying the bills.

Right, that's all mildly impressive. What else helps her to keep the wolf from the door?

She has had her own horse-riding series on national television for one thing. Then there's that Swiss businessman who has a knack of bringing Samba football to Sweden - he owns most of her horses.

Goodness gracious, that Swiss bloke does seem to have a finger in many flavoursome Swedish pies. Anything else?

Yes, she owns a restaurant in her home town of Norrköping. And she has devised a board game based on show jumping. All things considered, there is simply no stopping her.

Wait until she has kids, that'll soon soften her cough.

As a matter of fact, she already has a 2-year-old son. If anything she has become more active since Alvar was born.

Never one to do things by the book, she shocked a lot of your fellow hippophobes by competing in a Stockholm show jumping event when she was seven months pregnant. To the utter disgust of the nay-sayers, she went on to win the thing.

You leave the hippos out of this! Please tell me that she at least took a good long break after the wee lad was born.

Not a bit of it. A month after giving birth she was back in the saddle for a competition in Gothenburg.

That's outrageous What about poor little Alvar?

Little Alvar was just fine. It doesn't take that long for a champion to clear a course and her husband was happy to be left holding the baby.

Who's he? Anybody I might have heard of.

His name is Henrik Johansson and you might have seen him if you used to watch that TV programme where teams of hysterical people tried to escape from a French fort. Johansson was a team coach. He first met his future wife when she was a contestant on the show.

Did they ride off into the sunset, leaving behind them the fair paddocks of mother Sweden?

They did not. They settled down to a fulfilling, horse-powered life in Norrköping. Despite all her years in the saddle, Malin Baryard's competitive nature still has her chomping at the bit whenever she pulls on her riding attire to guide Flippan over the fences.

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