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That Special Bond – with Jeroen Dubbeldam

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

He has an Olympic Champion (De Sjiem…), a Team World Champion (Up and Down…), as well as a double World and European Champion (Zenith SFN…) to choose from. Yet it’s not difficult for Dutch legend Jeroen Dubbeldam to pick out the one horse that has been the most special to him of all. We catch up with the 45-year-old rider to find out which of his fantastic four-legged partners he considers the special one, which one was the money maker and which one that got away as our series ‘That Special Bond’ continues. 

The Special One

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Jeroen Dubbeldam with De Sjiem, who according to his rider "had a very special character". Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“The most special horse in my career was De Sjiem. He defined my career and put me on the map. I have a few nice titles, but in our sport the pinnacle of what you can achieve is of course the Olympic title and he brought me that. 

De Sjiem had a very special character. He was very stubborn, and there were a few tears along the way with him. De Sjiem was a very talented horse, but I had to ride him with a lot of compromises during the first few years we had together. At the beginning of his career, we could make a clear round off his talent. However, when we came to bigger shows where it became more technical we had to work a little bit more on the control and this was not really to his liking. Eventually, I had to get some help to solve my challenges with his stubbornness. If you are too proud as a rider, you don’t get further anyway so I needed somebody who was specialized on these kinds of horses. That helped me a lot. Sometimes you have to go through difficult periods like this to end up with something good – and we did just that. 

De Sjiem still lives happily retired at my stable – which is named after him – and is thirty years old now.”

The Money Maker

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Jeroen Dubbeldam and Simon: "He was a real winner," says the Dutch rider. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“Simon was the money maker for me, although I did not have him for that long. While De Sjiem could jump the biggest tracks in the world, it was difficult to ride fast with him – he won some important competitions like the Grand Prix of Aachen, but not a lot. Simon on the other hand won a lot over the short period he was with me, he was a real winner – in 2010 he won the CN International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows as well as the World Cup in Verona and in 2011 the Nations Cup in Aachen with the Dutch team. 

It was a pity that I could not ride another big championship with him. I did the European Championships with him in Madrid in 2011, where he ended 6thas well as the World Cup Final that same year where he ended 3rd– but I wish I would have gone to the Olympic Games in London with him. However, that did not happen. After the Europeans, he was sold to Beezie Madden and we parted ways.”

The One That Got Away

“I would also say that Simon is the one that got away. At the moment when he was sold, we were one of the best pairs in the world and with the Olympic Games in London coming up… There was no guarantee, but the cards were good.”

And Then There Was Zenith

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Jeroen with double European and World Champion SFN Zenith. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“SFN Zenith was also a typical championship horse. Just like De Sjiem he was a horse that did not win a lot of classes in his career, but nevertheless he became double World and European Champion. With Zenith I could jump any track in the world, he had all the scope. Like many other good horses, he was also special and sensitive but once you had him in good form he would never stop doing the clear rounds. At the European Championships in Aachen in 2015, he was in unbelievable form. I’m sure he could have jumped three more days and would have not made a mistake – he just did not give up!”



Text © World of Showjumping by Jannicke Naustdal 

Photos © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson 

No reproduction without permission, copyright © World of Showjumping

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