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17Feb 15

KWPN stallion show Den Bosch: Henke and his proud owner

I am nearly ashamed to admit that I had never been to the Dutch KWPN stallion show, ever. Therefore I made a commitment this year to not let an other one go by without a visit of at least two days.

It is an extremely important show for all stud owners who have entered stallions as it is the final procedure in order to be accepted for the performance test.

This used to be the 100-day test when the KWPN did not yet have separate inspections for dressage horses and show-jumpers. Now the tests are slightly shorter.

I was there for two phenomenal days which consisted of an enormous amount of mouth-watering. On the first day of the dressage stallions a very nice lady asked me politely whether the chair next to me was free. It was, so she sat down and, just as many other people, she got her telephone out in order to use it as a camera.

Although all stallions at this show have already come a long way in the grading system and they are all extremely good and good-looking horses, some won't make the third grading, others will and a few are just breathtakingly beautiful. In came one of those show-stoppers. His canter was so smooth that all his changes were effortless and mostly clean and it took him very few powerful and elegant trot strides, which did not seem to touch the ground, to get to the other side of the arena. He was one of those who made your heart beat a little faster and the crowd showed its appreciation with a few whistles and some clapping.

I was so excited and joked to my neighbour who had just finished filming: "How about buying him together?" To which she answered with a shyish grin: "He actually is mine." I made her repeat that sentence twice before it sank in, after which we had a good laugh. I was chuffed to bits to be so lucky as to meet the owner and I told her I hoped he would make the championship. She then told me that she had to go to the doctor that morning after a long night with a sick child and had to hurry in order to plait the stallion to be ready in time. My respect grew by the minute. 

Although Henke (Apache x Tolando) was accepted he did not make it to the championship. It still is a great result and I hope Qurien and Dennis van Erp are happy.





A new star is born Henke he is beautifull horse Very strong Kan you tell me Who is the new owner I can send you a pictur when he was 3 month old
henk, 18th February 2015

10Feb 15

Gert van den Hof at Jumping Amsterdam: an act or true horsemanship?

Gert van den Hof is a Dutch horseman. Gert also has a very dry sense of humor and has phenomenal 'stickability'.For this very reason he was given the opportunity to perform his act at Jumping Amsterdam, the big international show of nearly two weeks ago. 

I call it an act as in my opinion it as exactly that. His act contains the ability to put a saddle on an untouched horse within minutes of entering the very big and impressive arena, including the lively audience and then, as the icing on the cake, to climb on top, proceeding in something between a canter and gallop, in the meantime entertaining the by now overexcited audience with halfwitted jokes and funny, somewhat helpless sounds. He has an assistant (his brother) who reads the horse's mood to perfection and complements this with a lunging-whip. The timing is sheer perfection.  

I could not help but loose my generally critical eye as the horse barely bucked, seemed to settle ever so quick and also Gert knew the exact moment when 'enough was enough'.

Although it all seemed so very convincing, somewhere inside my head a little alarm went of and I googled Gert and found several clips on You Tube. Not all was as smooth as what I witnessed at Jumping Amsterdam and of course not every horse is equally uncomplicated, This is also not my problem with his performance. My problem is that in some cases I know from experience that giving the more complicated horse a little more time means less trauma for the horse in its initial phase.

Horses can buck and rear. Gert van den Hof has no fear for that. He understands horses to perfection. His show is powerful. I dread to think that some horse owners might go home and try this themselves and I also know this will happen. They will inevitably end up with possibly Gert in order to sort out their by now scared-out-of-its-wits horse..... if they survived their ordeal, that is.



01Feb 15

Jumping Amsterdam; quite a party!

It must have been 1979 when I witnessed David Broome winning the Puissance show-jumping in the most spectacular manner. If I'm not mistaken he was hanging on to to the neck of his horse in order to cross the finish-line without his feet touching the ground. Also, I vaguely remember the commentator yelling histerically something about David having just become a father for the first time.

Of course it is possible I made most of this up in my imagination and, despite my efforts to google the finer details, other than the fact he won it was impossible to find any more on it.
At that time I had not made up my mind what kind of horse-rider I wanted to be. In Holland the riding club was and still is, the same as affiliated and dressage and show-jumping was mostly done by all riders. Some riders and horses at a higher level excelled in show-jumping, others in dressage. Most horses started a diverse career as that is how horses were bred and riders were taught.
In 1997 there was a dressage demonstration in the program and although David Broome made us all scream; the beautiful black horse effortlessly  dancing across the bright sand followed by the spotlights made me cry.
It was not until 1989 that dressage became a proper part of Jumping Amsterdam and on Saturday there was lots of it. 
To be there again after all those years was quite a party. Melancholy mixed with an enormous amount of admiration for what the horse sport in Holland has achieved. The beginning of the day was an eye-opener though, as the standard of the young riders in the Team Challenge class was so very high. Working with two young girls in Cornwall who are on the BYRDS scheme it gave me a very thorough idea about our homework. 
With the stallion show in Den Bosch coming up next week I will have another decent dose of Dutch horsemanship.
But...... despite my earlier mentioned admiration I do have one wish: for the general purpose and all-round horse not to disappear.


Hi Liz So gld you are having a great time! Missing youxxxxx
liz Read, 3rd February 2015

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

About Liz Barclay

Her love for horses together with her dedication made her into the trainer and dressage rider she is, today. She is versatile and inventive and likes a challenge; whether it is a technical training question, a confidence issue or a problem involving the management of the horse or pony.


My book 'THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...' with the subtitle 'A Personal Impression of the Development of the Gelderland Horse World' has been received with more enthusiasm than I possibly could have hoped for. Click here to contact me and I will send you a copy. £7.50 + postage, or click here to order from Amazon.