Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Destination Blommeröd – Unbridled Spirit

My lifestyle feature about the famous Blommeröd Arabian Stud and the estate's lovely proprietor, Vicke Philip Sørensen, will be published in the summer issue of South of Sweden Magazine. Here is a sneak preview of the article.
Unbridled Spirit

The deep lush heart of Skåne conceals a secret realm where you can live the thoroughbred life. Fly over the fields on an e
xquisite Arabian steed, sip champagne in a Bedouin tent or place your bets in the sport of kings at the legendary Blommeröd Arabian Stud. Laurel Williams explores Blommeröd and meets the estate’s inexhaustible proprietor, Vicke Philip Sørensen who upholds the dual missions to improve the “the first breed” and to spread well-being among her guests with good food, peaceful sleep, fresh air and laughter.

Sweden’s most internationally renowned and exclusive Arabian stud, the breathtaking Blommeröd estate, is tucked quietly away in Skåne’s geographic centre, near the little village of Höör. Set on some 1100 green acres overlooking the rippling Ringsjön Lake, this is one of Europe’s leading centres for Arabian horse breeding, showing and racing, complete with luxury stables, riding arenas, a veterinary office, show grounds, a guesthouse, guest stables and Sweden’s only private betting-approved racetrack.
The woman who keeps this elaborate estate running smoothly is the indomitable Vicke Phillip Sørensen. Breeder, gourmet chef and hostess extraordinaire, she makes every guest, human and equine alike, feel instantly welcome and comfortable.

As a destination Blommeröd is totally unique, made special by the presence of the estate’s forty exquisite Arabian horses and their high-spirited owner, Vicke herself. Not only is it a deliciously tranquil place to visit for a picnic lunch in a meadow or a gourmet weekend at the guesthouse where guest stables accommodate your horse, but it also lets you experience the usually inaccessible lifestyle of champagne, royalty, rock stars and riches surrounding Arabian thoroughbred horses.The legend of Probat
Long leafy avenues lead you from the main gate past dozens of extremely beautiful Arabian horses with the legendary blood of Probat, one of the world’s most famous Arabian stallions, flowing in their veins like gold.

The secret world of Blommeröd was created in 1964 when Vicke’s late father, Eric Phillip Sørensen, sold his hugely successful company, Securitas, to his sons and chose to pursue the privileged hobby of breeding Arabian horses.

“My father was a connoisseur of beauty and his two passions were orchids and Arabian horses. Luckily for me he chose to work with horses,” says Vicke with a grin, “because I don’t think I could have had any success with flowers.”

He imported seven excellent Arabian thoroughbreds from Poland to start the stud that would soon grow to own 170 horses. In 1975 the great Probat was born and as a stallion he propelled Blommeröd to fame with his excellence.

“It was not that Probat was a particularly beautiful horse,” Vicke explains, “but that he consistently produced beautiful horses that made him so valuable.”

The prolific Probat sired hundreds of horses in Sweden and Poland before he was sold to eminent American breeder Dr. Eugene Lacroix in 1986 for the pretty sum of 28 million SEK, one of the highest prices ever paid for a horse.

Being beautiful
Vicke’s father expected women to be quiet and beautiful, like his horses. He shipped his vivacious young daughter off to a Catholic convent in England for four years of tutelage by nuns and then to finishing school in Denmark.

“We did not always share the same opinion,” laughs Vicke, who is clearly still untamed but unconcerned. “I am tough and very active and that did not fit his image of how a woman should be.”

After her education, Vicke married and settled in Denmark to raise her daughter Camilla. As a trained speech therapist she worked with autistic children at a children’s hospital in Copenhagen for 18 years.

“I have always loved horses,” Vicke explains pragmatically, “but returning to Blommeröd was never part of my plan until I was 42 and pregnant with my second child, Carl Philip.”

Vicke’s father certainly came to appreciate his daughter’s tenacity when she returned to help him maintain Blommeröd in 1991. Back then, Vicke took charge of the stallions while her father looked after the precious mares but today she handles every aspect of the estate.

“Training horses and men takes a lot of hard work,” insists Vicke with her contagious smile. “People think I am some kind princess, just sitting up here eating chocolates, but horses are high maintenance creatures and I do most of the work myself since I am too impatient to teach someone else to do things my way.”

This includes keeping not only horses, but also visitors feeling pampered and well fed. A passion for food runs in the family and Vicke herself does all the cooking for the guesthouse restaurant and for the many catered events held on the estate including weddings by the lake, lavish birthday soirees in the authentic Bedouin tent and the star-studded Scandinavian Open Championships for Arabian horses.
Drinkers of the wind
The horses you will see at Vicke’s Blommeröd are living history. Arabian thoroughbreds are known as “the first breed” and their story stretches back thousands of years to origins as the ancient desert horse of nomadic Bedouins. Arabian horses were kept in the Bedouin tents alongside the children and they became important members of the family, developing a profound closeness to humans and the will to please them, which is a rare trait in animals.

“Only the most gentle and obedient horses were allowed to reproduce, so today’s Arabian horses are incredibly receptive, sensitive and easy to teach,” Vicke explains.

If the Arabian horses’ sweet manners are not enough to charm you, then their exceptional beauty will certainly melt your heart. Face to face with an Arabian thoroughbred at Blommeröd, you will find yourself arrested by a pair of enormous dewy eyes and snuffled by the prodigious nostrils, good for inhaling copious amounts of oxygen to race across deserts, that caused the Bedouins to call Arabian horses “Drinkers of the Wind”.

“Everyone can appreciate the beauty and sensitivity of these horses. There is something in their air that appeals to us,” Vicke muses.

The sport of kings
Napoleon, George Washington and Genghis Khan all depended on the fearlessness, loyalty and stamina of Arabian horses in their conquests. Today, Arabian’s compete in endurance events, where they usually triumph against all other breeds, and increasingly in the traditional track racing known as “the sport of kings”.

Blommeröd is one of just seven official horse racing locations in Scandinavia and the 1060-meter turf oval is the only private racetrack in Sweden with a national betting license.

Dress to the nines and don a sublime hat for Blommeröd’s classic, pulse-quickening day at the races, set for August 11th this year. The derby is for Arabian and English thoroughbreds but the main event of the day is the Scandinavian Arabian Derby. Choose your champion and loose your composure, like Eliza Doolittle, cheering as the fleetest of the fleet thunder down the track under a blurry rainbow of jockeys.

Bred for perfection
The Arabian horse excels most of all at showmanship. International visitors and horses have descended on Blommeröd every summer since 1991 for the prestigious Scandinavian Open Championships, Scandinavia’s largest show for Arabian thoroughbred horses. To see the worlds most beautiful horses groomed until gleaming and prancing to beautiful music in flowering show grounds is a compelling sight.

This year, on July 7th and 8th, over 100 horses from all over Europe will compete for the judges’ favour, armed with just their own physical perfection and equine grace. Previous judges have included such illustrious figures as HRH Princess Alia of Jordan. Famous English breeder and Rolling Stone wife, Shirley Watts has captured the coveted championship title twice with horses from her Halsdon Arabian Stud in Devonshire.

For Vicke, the show is her annual masterpiece of entertaining and hospitality. Champagne corks pop in the VIP tent, which she has stocked with strawberries and canapés. In another tent is her generous gourmet buffet lunch and out on the grass several visitors enjoy their own picnics and relax in sun chairs.

“This is the perfect way to savour a lovely summer day,” assures Vicke warmly. “It is a completely peaceful experience with beautiful horses and beautiful music in the open air.”

High-spirited and yet completely grounded, Vicke cultivates an atmosphere of genuine warmth between people, horses and the land at Blommeröd.

“I will stay here forever,” she declares gazing out from her house on the hill upon the lake and meadows of Blommeröd. As the saying goes, wild horses could not drag her away and visitors to Blommeröd will feel the same.

Fast Facts
Vicke Philip Sørensen
  • Born in Stockholm in 1948 to a Danish father and Swedish mother
  • Married three times (that they have all been doctors is purely coincidental)
  • Daughter Camilla, now 40 and the mother of Vicke’s four darling grandchildren
  • Son Carl Philip, 18 years old and studying with barons and Bernadottes at prestigious Sigtuna boarding school
  • Proprietor of 1100-acre Blommeröd Arabian Stud Estate
  • Forty Arabian thoroughbred horses complete the family circle
The Scandinavian Open Championships
  • Scandinavia’s largest show for Arabian thoroughbred horses on the 7th-8th of July this year, entrance is 85 SEK
  • A VIP table for four costs 4700 SEK for the two days and includes the entrance fee, parking, snacks and a bottle of champagne for each day
  • Enjoy Vicke’s grand lunch buffet for just 285 SEK per head, but do book in advance
Visiting Blommeröd
  • Group tours for 15 to 20 people, including a demonstration of horse showmanship, costs 75 SEK per person
  • Call ahead for a meal at the guesthouse restaurant and stay overnight for 600 SEK per person/per night
  • Children, dogs and horses are welcome at Blommeröd
  • Blommeröd is easily accessible by train from Malmö (30 minutes) and Copenhagen (1 hr)
  • Visit for more details and directions to the estate

No comments: