I’m back to talk to you about winning or more the lack of! Even though we learn something with every round we do and we are often very proud of our horses when they come out of the ring, showjumping keeps you humble. There are so many things that just need to all come together in those 90 seconds inside the arena. You need your horse to have a good day, not too fresh, not too tired. You need just the right amount of control that day, not too strong, not too mouthy. You need the course to be in favor of your horse, you need your warmup to go well and most of all you need a little bit of LUCK. You need that toe on the plank to just gently rock it but not push it down. We have had good results all spring but we haven’t made it all the way to the top. This all changed at the show in Valkenswaard.
I often use some of the former winner blankets when I transport the horses and I remember thinking the day I put the horses on the truck to go to Valkenswaard, that I really could use some new ones. Mine was getting beaten up at this point, getting used every week. I am a superstitious person so I will try to always think that from now on, haha.
The first day at the show in Valkenswaard, Harley took the win in the big class on the grass. A 4* 1.50m speed and he flew to the first victory we have had in a very long time. I was beyond proud of him for trying so hard and jumping so well.
The next day it was Naomi’s turn to get that blue ribbon and a blanket. She speeded to a win in her 2* 1.45m Grand Prix qualifier. The rush of winning no matter what class, is just something special. These moments are what fuels you up for another couple of months and makes waking up early and having long days at the show so much easier. I 100% do this job because of the horses but the thrilling minute of competing in that ring is a big part why I enjoy it so much!
The week got even more successful when I had a girl come up to me asking if I was the creator or Yehaww. She wanted to thank me for creating the platform. She had found her dream job on the site and she said Yehaww changed her life. This was my dream with the project so it made me so happy to hear! Felt like another win. But all these wins was just the beginning, we had bigger results in front of us.
After the show in Valkenswaard it was time to head to a Global Champions Tour again. This time in the UK. In central London, in front of the Royal Chelsea Hospital another leg of the Tour was built up. This is one of my favorites because of that location. I can go for my runs everyday and see all these beautiful monuments and buildings all around central London. I had brought the two boys, Harley, who was fresh off his win in Valkenswaard; he had a week at home, chilling and was now ready to go again. I also had Don, he had been to the US for his Equine visa run as I wrote about in my previous blog post. He did one show back in Europe and then headed to London.
The week started good, Harley was second in his opening class, we did the team rounds where both horses were super, even though Don had a little stumble. Somehow he managed to regain his balance and jump the course clear, qualifying us for the Sunday Grand Prix.
On Sunday we did the usual morning ride. At many of these shows, they only have the warmup ring and the competition ring and they run other classes during the day so the only time for flatwork is often 6am in the morning. I don’t really mind this, the horses get ridden early and they can go back to bed for a couple of hours and I can go for a run and explore. This was what our Sunday in London looked like aswell.
Since we had a good result in the qualifier, despite the little challenge mid course, we had a late start number in the Grand Prix. The start list of the Grand Prix is the reversed order of the result in the qualifier.
After a great warmup, Don jumped the first round incredibly and was the fourth horse to make it to the jump off. I quickly took him back to the stable to let him have a little bit of a water and a bathroom break. By the time they’ve jumped the course and cooled down they have already been out for a long time and they often feel the need to go to the bathroom. Then it was time to head back up to the warmup for the jump off. Ten riders had qualified for the second round and there was a lot of big names in the mix.
We again had a very good warmup. You don’t have to do as much since the horse already jumped a big round not that long ago, just warm their muscles back up, maybe practice a tight turn once or twice just to make sure you have your horse with you. There was already one fast clear in front of us and after a few last minute tactical tips from former Olympic champion, Nick Skelton, we headed into the ring. I love this with the equestrian sport, everyone is helping each other out and everyone is rooting for each other to win. I think because there is so many other factors at play then just the rider’s performance, and that we are dealing with animals with their own will, there is not much rivalry and we just want to help each other out.
Jessie’s and Don’s jump-off was a winning jump off. She went for it and Don was with her the whole way, trying his heart out. Her turn in to the double made everyone gasp for air and the whole crowd was sitting at the edge of their seats to the last fence. But she cleared it and it was fast. Of course there were still six riders to go and every single one of them were fast riders with fast horses. They all tried to catch up with us but this time it was our turn to climb all the way to the top of that podium.
Last time we won a 5* GP was at Stephex Masters 2021 and last time we won a 5* Global Champions Tour GP was in St Tropez 2019. Both were with our incredible mare, RMF Zecilie, so needless to say this was a very emotional win.
I was so proud and happy for Don to finally be a GP winner, he deserves it so much and he has been there at the top so many times but had an unlucky fault in the jump-off that stopped him from making it all the way. He was very proud of himself too, he was beyond pumped in the prize giving and I had to walk away from his mother getting a full champagne shower on the podium from the second and third place riders.
Being in England, because of specific shipping requirements, we were not able to leave the show until 1 am in the morning so we spent the rest of the evening in the stable, finishing our horses off, packing, ordering some food and of course celebrating!
My very good friend and my stable neighbor for the week was place third so the rest of the grooms made a little seating area outside our stalls were we could eat and hang out waiting for the time when we would be able to leave.
This was the perfect way to try to wind down from that incredible moment, even though it will for sure stay with me forever. I was also overwhelmed with all the messages and kind words I got from everyone. Anyone who knows me, knows what this horse means to me and the amount of timeI have spent with him the last couple of years. He is just one of a kind, and I’m so lucky he choose me to be his person!
Thank you DON JUAN VAN DE DONKHOEVE.
Next up Nations Cup final in Barcelona, let’s qualify for the Paris Olympics 2024!
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