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That Special Bond – with Jur Vrieling

Wednesday, 25 April 2018
That Special Bond

The Special One

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Jur Vrieling's special one: VDL Bubalu. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

In our series ’That Special Bond’ we speak with some of the top names in the sport about the horses that have shaped their careers, left a lasting impression and sometimes even broken hearts. This time around we sit down with Dutch rider Jur Vrieling, who has played a big part when it comes to the success his country has experienced at the major championships over the last years.

“VDL Bubalu has definitely been the most special horse in my career. I got him when he was a 9-year-old and he was the first horse I had for the championships, as well as the bigger classes. Rob Ehrens coached me a bit at that time, and that was the beginning of a new chapter for me as I was given the chance on the Dutch team.

Bubalu was also a horse with an extreme character. If I perhaps thought something was too big for him, he would always jump his heart out and prove me wrong. As a young horse, he had a bit a difficult canter but it did not really matter for him – he would jump whatever you build for him. For his character, I have to give him a ten out of ten!

He was also unbelievably nice in the stable, especially for being a stallion. At home, he was not always so motivated when it came to work, but once he came to the warm-up ring at the show he woke up. When my groom started platting him he would always make a pee in the stables, and get ready – he knew exactly. We normally only platted him for the championships, Nations Cup and Grand Prix classes – and he straight away knew then that something important was coming up and became really focused."

The Money Maker

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson VDL Glasgow van het Merelsnest has been a real money maker for Vrieling.

“That must be VDL Glasgow van het Merelsnest. Last year, he won the CSIO5* Grand Prix in Rome, the World Cup in Helsinki, the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona as well as the bonus there. In 2016, he won the Nations Cup in La Baule – and also a few other classes.

Glasgow is so consistent and is also a horse with an unbelievable character, he always wants to do his best and is the easiest stallion in my stable – he goes next to a mare on the truck with no problems.

I have had him since he was seven, now he is twelve. It’s a funny story, the first time I had him at a show I jumped a 1.20m class and I called his owner and said “Well, he was clear in the 1.20 but he was jumping a bit more like a 4-year-old.” Then the owner replied by saying, “Well, he was never at a show before!” Two years later, at the same show – in Drachten – he won his first big class, so he has had a really quick progression.”

The One That Got Away

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The one that got away... VDL Zirocco Blue.

“VDL Zirocco Blue… He was an unbelievable horse, with unbelievable results – with him I was a part of the gold medal winning Dutch team at the Europeans in Aachen. Then at the Olympics in Rio it all went wrong, and after I really hoped that we would have a chance to return to the ring and make it right again. That round was just so out of character for us as a couple. But, then the owner had already been thinking about retiring Zirocco after the Olympics as he wanted him to focus more on breeding. It was hard for Zirocco to do both, and as his offspring were already looking good the decision was made to take him out of the sport. I would really have wished to have the chance to come back with him though, and win something – and then retire him, he would have deserved that.

I rode Zirocco on the stallion presentation at VDL and Adri Jespers’ recently, and he is so fresh that he could still compete successfully at the highest level. He was bucking and playing, and I was directly thinking that I would love to take him to the show ring again.

Zirocco has a lot of good offspring, which is nice to see. He himself was extremely careful, and this is one of the qualities you can see in his daughters and sons. I also have a few young ones myself by him, and they look special. I will for sure use him more on my mares!”


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