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That Special Bond – with Maikel van der Vleuten

Monday, 15 January 2018
That Special Bond

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
VDL Groep Verdi TN is the special one for Maikel van der Vleuten. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

In World of Showjumping’s series ‘That Special Bond’ we talk with some of the top names of the sport, to discuss the horses that have shaped their careers, fulfilled their dreams – and sometimes even broke their hearts.

This time around we speak with Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten, who admit he had some scary moments with his special one. 

The Special One

“I must say I had many good horses in my career, and also during my time as junior and young rider. I had many horses that were able to win a Grand Prix on a Sunday, but Verdi is the most special one for me because he actually made my career. He came to me when I was 17 and he was four, so I’ve been riding him for 12 years now. I was still young and he was very young at that time and we really grew up together. When I see now that I have three medals and did so many championships with a horse I made yourself – that means something special to me. It means more than if someone would have bought a very expensive horse for me that was already ready to go. All the work and time you put in to educate a horse gives a good feeling.

Verdi has always been nice to me, and he was always a better horse. Every year he was jumping, he was a really good horse for his age. He was always in the finals in his age group, and at nine he did his first championship. Verdi was always a horse that wanted to do well and was always a nice horse to work with.

He can be a bit happy, and the first day at shows he sometimes likes to show that he is there – but in a good way. You just have to know him a bit. I had some scary moments though, like when he was four at a stallion competition and bucking, bucking and bucking. But now I know and I know when he is bucking and not, and that makes it a bit easier.

I can’t say for how long he will still be jumping, that is really something he has to tell me. As long as he can have some good results and still likes what he is doing we keep him in the sport. He is popular as a breeding stallion, so as soon as we have the feeling that he is done with jumping he can focus on the breeding.”

The Money Maker

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
“Verdi won the most of my horses," Maikel says.

“Verdi won the most of my horses. Beside the medals he won, he also won the most money for me. In 2016 – the year of the Olympics in Rio – he won a bit less, but that is normal since you have to skip a few shows to focus on the championships.” 

The One That Got Away

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
The One That Got Away: VDL Groep Quatro.

“That must be Vdl Groep Quatro, who got sold to Geir Gulliksen. That horse also meant a lot to me, and I got the ride on him at the beginning of his seventh year. And actually no one had any expectations to that horse. He was then jumping nice in the 1,30 classes, but with one or two down. I started with him and I don’t know, it just worked out well. Quatro won many classes on 5* level and I had super success with that horse. We sold him, but for me with a sad feeling. You know how it goes, we also sometimes need to sell a horse like that. He went to Geir and they are nice to the horses so he will be well taken care of, but I would of course had loved to be able to keep him myself.”

Text and pictures © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson

No reproduction without permission

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