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Rob Ehrens: "Health is much more important than any show or the Olympic Games"

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
"I am a very optimistic man, but in this case I really have a feeling that we might have to see much of the outdoor season disappear," Rob Ehrens says about the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen



With the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak halting all international competitions for the time being, World of Showjumping called up Dutch chef d'equipe Rob Ehrens to ask how this affects his work in an Olympic year where many important decisions need to be made. 

"Show-wise, nothing is going on at the moment and it makes our future decision-making complicated,” Ehrens begins. “With the Olympic Games ahead of us, we have a number of combinations which I know well from the past but there are also new pairs which I need more information on and some new couples that still need the qualification.”

"As always, we are in contact," Ehrens tells about his team riders. "We have an open communication with the riders, and for them the current scenario is something totally different than they are used to – normally they would be showing weekly now. The hardest part is, that no one really knows when the gate is going to be open again. Following the news, I think there is a long way to go before we see the end of the tunnel. I am a very optimistic man, but in this case I really have a feeling that we might have to see much of the outdoor season disappear. If you look to other sports, that is the reality. The European Championships in football – that were supposed to take place in June – are cancelled, so can we really imagine that the Olympic Games can begin at end of July? Naturally I am keeping an eye on what the IOC is communicating, and I know that they still want to make the Games happen but personally I’m not so sure. No matter what happens in the next few weeks, I don't think it will be easy." 

“Towards the end of April we should hopefully know more,” Ehrens continues. “There has to come a point where more decisions are made as to what can go on as planned and what not. We cannot be kept in this grey, unknown place for too long. For the rest, we just have to think about our own health and that is much more important than any show or the Olympic Games." 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "We have an open communication with the riders," Ehrens tells about the current situation for the Dutch team. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Ehrens also points out the difficult situation show organisers are in, with so much uncertainty. "All the shows that have venues where everything needs to be built up, run a huge risk if keeping their show in the calendar," Ehrens says. "Venues with permanent facilities can organise quickly when the green light is there, but to build everything from scratch – that is a different situation." 

Ehrens tells advice to the Dutch riders has been to stay at home, and stay away from the crowds. “It is the only thing we can do," he says. "Just avoid public places! But you know how it goes; yesterday there were pictures from towns where schools are closed, but then people are still sitting in the park together. In my opinion, we should only go out if it is absolutely necessary – that is the advice I follow and that I have passed on.”

As to the horses, Ehrens also offers advice. “Try to make this period as comfortable as possible for your horses. They can go outside, do varied work, they have to be kept fit to compete and fresh in the head.”

“On the bright side, we can take time for the horses now – also the young ones. There is lots of time to train. And to clean up the stables!” Ehrens smiles.


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