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Jos Lansink: “We have to keep the horsemanship alive”

Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Interview

Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto "We have to work hard and be motivated, but he is a hard worker himself too. All together I think we are a good team, which makes work easier," Frank Schuttert tells about working for Jos Lansink together with Pieter Clemens. Photo © Dirk Caremans/Hippo Foto.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

For Frank Schuttert (27) and Pieter Clemens (26), landing a job with one of the sport’s great legends has made all the difference. While showjumping has changed since six-time Olympian and World Champion Jos Lansink topped the world ranking, the ingredients for success are more or less still the same: It takes not only talent, but hard work – and a little bit of luck.

World of Showjumping spoke with Lansink and his two protégés about the trio’s team work, the privilege to learn from one of the sport’s absolute best, competing with each other rather than against each other – and about horse-power and horsemanship.

Young and ambitious

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.
“They are both very good ring riders,” Jos Lansink says about Frank and Pieter’s qualities. “This is key, because at the end of the day we are a dealing stable and it is important to sell experienced horses.” Pictured here, Frank Schuttert with Chianti's Champion. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Schuttert was the first of the two to start working for Lansink. “Frank came and asked me for a job in 2012,” Jos begins. “At the time, I did not have a place for him, but he kept calling – and here we are,” he smiles. “When Pieter left Ashford Farm in 2015, I asked him to come and work for me.”

“It’s been eight years now,” Frank says. “I told my parents that I was not sure if school was what I really wanted to do – I liked riding more. We have a stable at home, so the question really was if I wanted to stay or leave. I thought it would be better to see another place, so I called Jos. I had to call him a few times before he told me to come over and meet,” Frank smiles. “After a few months of trial, I got to stay. The decision to work for Jos was for sure the best decision I have ever made.”

“We have a good connection,” Frank continues. “Jos is easy to work for: He is honest and straight-forward. It is easy to know what he wants. We have to work hard and be motivated, but he is a hard worker himself too. All together I think we are a good team, which makes work easier.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
“To work together as one team is what I enjoy the most. Pieter and Frank are much further in their careers than I was at their age," Jos Lansink tells World of Showjumping. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“It is black or white: There is nothing between yes and no, he is fair and not at all a difficult boss,” Pieter fills in about Jos. “We get along very well. I think it is important to have a good relationship with your employer, so that you can also talk about other things than horses. I admire Jos for everything he has achieved in his life. It is unbelievable how much I have learned from him. I feel lucky: Many people want to train with him, and I have the privilege of learning from him every day. I think working for Jos was the best opportunity I could ever get.”

“They are young and have ambition, which is what I once was – and what I still am,” Jos smiles. “To work together as one team is what I enjoy the most. Pieter and Frank are much further in their careers than I was at their age. I was riding ponies until I was 18 – my parents said ‘you can ride horses long enough’. My plan was never to be a professional rider though. I should have taken over the farm we had at home. Now, I do have a farm – not with cows and pigs but with horses.”

“Young riders today have a lot more shows than we had back in the days,” Jos continues. “But at the end of the day, the horsepower is the most important. Without the right horse no one can break through. You also need a bit of luck; with the horses, owners, sponsors – it all has to come together at the right time.”

Business and sport

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.
“I like to do the sport, but I am not a sponsor,” Jos Lansink says. “All our horses are for sale. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

While Jos aims to support Frank and Pieter’s sports careers, every horse in his stable is for sale. “I like to do the sport, but I am not a sponsor,” Jos says firmly. “All our horses are for sale. However, I always try to see to that when a horse is sold, there is another one coming up. I want to make sure that Frank and Pieter never fall too far behind on the sport side, that they can still compete on a high level. If a horse is sold, they should not end up in a vacuum: They should be able stay on their level or get even better.”

“To have enough horses for them, I need to keep my eyes open,” Jos tells about the challenges of keeping the stable full of potential championship mounts for two riders. “We try to keep the horses for a longer time and really develop them for the right client. At the moment, there are a lot of horses and the market is huge. But it is hard to find the really good ones; you cannot say that there are so many Miltons around. I believe it is nearly impossible to find one, so you have to produce them.”

“As it is far between the really good horses, it is a challenge to stay at the highest level,” Jos continues. “To get to the top is one thing, but staying there for a long period is hard. The management has to be good to prevent injuries. You cannot only put time in your best horses, you must always remember the young ones. At the end they have to be ready to take over.”

“The horses will always get sold, but Jos would never sell all of them at the same time,” Pieter continues. “He makes sure we have something competitive left, and it keeps us motivated. I don’t think there are that many stables out there where you can work for someone who knows so much and is so correct. I am very grateful for that. I admire this in Jos as he thinks forwards and works on a long-term plan.”

“In the beginning I found it hard, because I was not used to it,” Frank comments on the business side of the sport he loves. “Now, I have learned to deal with it. It is always the best horses that get sold, but Jos works really hard to replace them. So far, we have been lucky –  when a horse got sold, we have had new ones waiting to take over.”

Daily improvements

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.
"The decision to work for Jos was for sure the best decision I have ever made," Frank Schuttert tells World of Showjumping. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I am there every day – but it is not that I stand there giving them lessons,” Jos explains about the trio’s daily work. “In general, we talk about what we can improve. For me, good is not good enough.”

“Things can always be better. We will never stop when we are good,” Pieter fills in. “What we are trying to do is improve ourselves and our horses, every day. You might know a lot already, but you can still learn more each day. I enjoy that we are not told what we should do each hour of the day: We have room to make our plan, and discuss this with Jos. It gives you freedom and teaches you to stand on your own feet.”

“There is a plan, and we focus on that and try to improve,” Frank joins in. “Every horse is different and when they come in, we try to get the best out of them."

Healthy competition

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.
"I feel lucky: Many people want to train with him, and I have the privilege of learning from him every day. I think working for Jos was the best opportunity I could ever get," Pieter Clemens says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

With two riders in the same age group competing at the same level, with the same goals – there might be a chance that there is some kind of rivalry going on. However, Frank and Pieter can reveal that it’s only of the good sort.

“Of course, when the competition starts, we both want to be the best – but I think that is normal,” Pieter tells. “When Frank is clear in a Grand Prix, I am always happy for him and I know it goes both ways. We work for the same stable and we cheer each other on.” 

“Pieter is one of my best friends and already was before he started to work here,” Frank fills in. “Although we both want to win, I think we compete more with each other than against each other. We work together every day, help each other, go to the shows together, share the good and the bad moments. It is very important to be a good team also in this way: To help each other be the best you can be. At the end, it does not matter who wins, but one of us should be on top as often as possible. I have learned a lot from Jos, but since Pieter joined us, I also see new things with him. Over the years, I think we have made each other better.”

“They are both very good ring riders,” Jos fills in about Frank and Pieter’s qualities. “This is key, because at the end of the day we are a dealing stable and it is important to sell experienced horses.”

Ranking versus horse welfare 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. "The last years I was lucky to be a part of the Dutch team at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon and at the European Championships in Rotterdam – hopefully we can add the Olympic Games to that list. When it comes to moments like that, those are the ones that count – when the chef d’equipe and Jos have faith in me," Frank Schuttert says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

None of the three care much about the world ranking. Success is measured through other parameters. “During my career, I never thought about the ranking,” Jos points out. “I was number one, but I never thought about being in the top ten. When you have enough good horses, it comes if it comes. But when that is your goal, the horses will pay the cost. They are going to go on red and I don’t like that. Horses need a rest and longer periods of no shows, that is the system I rely on. We are a trading stable and we have to show, but at the end of the year, I want the horses to still be fresh. They should not be over-used: The horses we sell should continue winning Grand Prix classes also with their new riders.”

“In order to be successful, you have to work hard but be patient,” Frank continues. “Every horse is different, and some horses just need a year more. We would never put a horse into a class it is not ready for. Hence, I am not one to look at the ranking. The last years I was lucky to be a part of the Dutch team at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon and at the European Championships in Rotterdam – hopefully we can add the Olympic Games to that list. When it comes to moments like that, those are the ones that count – when the chef d’equipe and Jos have faith in me.”

Keep the horsemanship alive

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
"While there are people who do need guidance, we should not forget that we have some hugely experienced riders out there that are also great horse people," Jos Lansink says about the governance of the sport. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

With an industry that has changed considerably over the ten last years, and which also is in rapid growth, Jos has a clear message. “There are issues I worry about,” he says. “Particularly when it comes to governance. We do need rules: They are absolutely necessary. However, rules should not be made by people who sit behind desks, but by people out in the field. For example; I am not in favour of the new rules regarding hind boots. We always talk about horse welfare, and I think there is a risk that with the new rules, horses will be trained harder at home. While there are people who do need guidance, we should not forget that we have some hugely experienced riders out there that are also great horse people. I don’t think they need those governing the sport to regulate which boots to use and not, or to be told off by officials that have far less knowledge than them. I think that the people in charge – those in governance who are making the rules, as well as those making sure they are being followed – should be closer to the sport. Otherwise, it might take a turn in the wrong direction. I would like to see our sport staying as a part of the Olympic family, as I think it is very important. To secure this, we need to make sure it develops the right way. We have to keep the horsemanship alive.”

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping



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