Stallion show Den Bosch: a slight change of program
For most visitors, and also the other two Liz's from Cornwall who accompanied me on my visit, the highlight of the national KWPN Stallion Show without a doubt will have been the choosing of the the champion jumping stallion Juventus VG (s. Kannan) and the dressage champion stallion Jameson RS2 (s. Blue Hors Zack), unless of course they were super fan of Valegro.
For me it was a very different show from previous years; barely saw a horse!
KWPN ONE EXTENDED FAMILY
It was a complete coincidence that exactly this week a lovely review of my book 'The Farmer, The Coal Merchant, The Baker...' was published in the Dutch equivalent of magazine the 'Horse and Hound', called the 'Hoefslag'. Visitors of the show were able to pick up a magazine for free in the stand which was shared with a Dutch fencing company and the Elite Foal Auction Borculo. After a phone call with the enthousiastic and spontaneous Marjolein Ras, secretary of this now over 30 year old organisation, I received a warm welcome at their stand which immediately brought back that old comforting feeling that everyone, whatever the connection with the Dutch Warmblood, is naturally a part of the family.
My day was made when I was given the opportunity to add a flyer to each magazine with the information where to buy my book!
FLEXIBLE STYLE OF RIDING
Earlier on I was exaggerating just slightly. During the evening program I did manage to occasionally run from the stand to the main arena to the warm up ring in order to catch a glimpse and have a taste of all that was happening. There are a lot of young and very talented riders who are there to show off the 4- and 5-year old stallions they trained so hard with in order to present them to their best ability.
It was there that I came to admire 28-year old Olympic rider Diederik van Silfhout. The picture looked possibly a little bit more contained and less exciting than that of the more assertive female riders. But how clever, the way he is still able to adjust his style of riding in order to make feel safe these young and at times boisterous stallions. It must be such a shock for those juveniles to enter the electric arena and I think they were probably quite grateful for his quiet approach.
A LOT OF MONEY AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS
Back to the stand of the Elite Foal Auction; never knew how big and international this organisation had become through the years. For me any auction connected to the sale of animals makes me slightly uncomfortable. Especially these innocent and still so very vulnerable foals...where are they going...who has bought them...do they know what they are doing? A lot of money is changing hands and with that inevitably expectations are high. However, Marjolein filled me in.
The care this organisation takes to make sure these foals get the best possible chance is enormous. From the keep and upbringing at professional farms, perfectly equipped for this, to the backing and education of the young horse in order to safeguard the very important first few years in which so much can go wrong. The advice and explanation of all this to the possibly less experienced buyer to avoid any disappointments is very complete and creates a safe situation for sellers, buyers and the animals themselves.
For any one interested to invest into a top quality KWPN foal the Elite Foal Auction Borculo is probably worth a visit.
In the mornings it is often quiet in the stands and so when a very modest looking, to the point of shy, lady from Germany was left to wait for something or someone at the stand, I felt compelled to test my German, knowing full and well that not much of it was left after thirty years in Cornwall.
There was an immediate click. Sandra Maria Stern is one of the nicest and most special horsewomen I've ever met. Her stud 'Pferdestall Johannes' was built only four years ago. Sandra Maria patiently explained her goals and philosophy in order to make come true her dream. With seven mares of which some in the sport and others in foal she is trying to find the back door into the KWPN studbook. The reason being that the front door is a bit stiff to say the least. Many breeders frown when discussing the subject of adding German blood in order to slow down the development at the rate it is going just a bit, in order for the KWPN horse not to turn into something no one ever wanted.
IN HONOUR OF...
Sandra Maria made a connection with the famous stud Team Nijhof and this spring one of her mares is expecting a foal of...Johnson. If everything is going according to plan Sandra Maria will be able to build her own inventive bridge with her own offspring to the KWPN studbook.
Emotion showed in her voice and face when she told me how her stud was made possible after the death of her father. It was then she was able to turn her dream into reality and therefore named her stud Johannes in honour of the man who put her into the world and whom she loved so much. The simple and honest way Sandra Maria told me this was touching.
After having given her a signed copy of my book I received a sincere invitation to visit 'Pferdestall Johannes' and after a warm hug we went our separate ways.
MEET THE FOKKERS
Another year of the KWPN Stallion Show with yet again so many stunning and promising young stallions of which most will end up gelded in the sport and a few will hopefully add to keeping the KWPN studbook as prominent for the future as it is at the moment.
The other two Liz's who joined me on this trip made the impression to be pretty much overwhelmed by they saw. But there were also some hilarious moments. Although some of the commentary is in English, most of it is in Dutch. The two kept on bursting out laughing every time the speaker mentioned the Dutch breeders and this happens often. I admit, the Dutch word for breeders does have a strange sound for English ears. So...from now on we have every reason to call the KWPN Stallion Show: 'Meet the Fokkers'!
Top picture: behind the scenes in the warm up ring
Middle: Sandra Maria Stern
Bottom: Pferdestall Johannes
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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.
THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...
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.