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WoSJ Exclusive; Frank Schuttert – Holland’s Got Talent

Monday, 25 March 2013

Frank and Winchester HS in action in Amsterdam. All photos by Jenny Abrahamsson.Frank Schuttert rocketed into the showjumping limelight in January, when he jumped to victory in the Grand Prix of Amsterdam. At 19 years old, this tall Dutchman is no less than a very exciting name and together with the eccentric Winchester HS Frank has showed that he is one to reckon with in the future. But, talking to Schuttert – we discovered that the road to success has been rocky, and it wasn’t a sure thing that he would choose a showjumping career. Now, we’re pretty sure he is glad he did.

Frank grew up with horses, and with both his parents and his brother riding he was soon on a horseback himself. “My older brother Hendrik-Jan rode, so I started riding quite early on in my childhood. I did the ponies first; and went on to ride at two European Championships. Some of my ponies where four year olds when I got them; and I produced them myself. As a 14 year old I was already really tall, and went on to ride horses. In 2011 I rode the Europeans for juniors in Comporta, and ended fourth with the Dutch team,” Frank tells about his background.

Frank is only 19, and one of Holland's biggest showjumping talents!Frank's road to success hasn't been without bumps though; "My best horse Winchester was injured from the beginning of 2012 until the end of May. Then I started him up again, and in September I rode my first Grand Prix at 1.60 level in Donaueschingen. I ended up winning it, and I did not expect that," Frank smiles. It was the beginning of something great as Frank went on to be second in the Grand Prix in Lezno and then to win again in Amsterdam, before he rode to victory in the Nations Cup in Al Ain. "My brother's wins in Copenhagen and at Hickstead definitely had me motivated," he laughs. "I thought that I really wanted to win as well!" 

As to his first Nations Cup experience, Frank reveals that he wasn't sure it was going to happen at all; "The entire Al Ain-team were in Offenburg a few weeks before, when Aniek Poels' father came up with the idea that we maybe could go. We spoke to Rob [Ehrens] and the federation about it, and asked if we could go. I didn't quite believe that it would happen, but then it did! It was my first Nations Cup, but all went really well from the start!"

Frank riding Arc de Triomphe. Although he is winning now, Winchester HS was not the easiest to build a partnership with when he came to Frank three years ago; "It was my father who bought him from somebody in our area that we knew, and he jumped at 1.30 level back then," Frank explains. "I actually just shaked my head when my father bought him; Winchester was a really special horse, not the easiest - although he did seem to have some good qualities. In the beginning there were a lot of ups and downs with him. He was also really spooky, so that made him quite difficult. In the end I understood that I couldn't correct him by being aggressive, because the more I did the more he turned against me. So instead I started to focus on keeping him calm and relaxed, and then it started to feel better," Frank explains of how he worked on this special horse. 

Although a lot of success has come Frank's way in a very short amount of time, his feet remain firmly on the ground. "I got an invitation to ride in Den Bosch, but after discussing it with Rob and Jos [Lansink] I decided to take it a little slower now and take things a bit down. I can't just go on and on," he says about his very mature decision. 

Frank's plan for this year is still ambitious enough though; "I'm aiming to ride the Dutch Championship - both for seniors and for young riders. I hope I can do some more Nations Cups also, but my main target is the European Championships for young riders," he says. 

Winchester HS was not the easiest when Frank got him, but hard work has made them a winning couple. He's got good help to get where he wants now, under the firm guidance of Jos Lansink - where Frank has been based since the beginning of February. "I couldn't do both school and horses the way I liked to," Schuttert explains about the difficulties combining the two to 100 %. So I decided to quit school and asked Jos if there were any possibilities to work for him."

Frank brought with him two of his own horses, and fills his day by riding eight of Jos' that are aged from six to eight years or older. "I start my day at 7.30 with riding and when I'm finished I help out in the stables. I really like it there; it's a place where I can learn a lot. Jos is also - unlike some other riders - a lot at home, and gives me good advice while I'm riding," Frank tells us about his new life away from home. 

Asked about his advice to other young riders that want to reach the same level as himself, Frank quickly replies; "Always go on! I didn't have much success as a junior, and from January 2012 and the following six months there was really nothing working for me - but I kept going. Actually I worked even harder than ever before!" 

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