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The Next Generation – Skye Morssinkhof: “In this sport, nothing comes for free; you have to work for it”

Thursday, 20 January 2022
Interview

Photo © Arnd Bronkhorst // www.arnd.nl Skye Morssinkhof is a rising star in the Netherlands, and in 2020 she won the Dutch Championship for juniors. Photo © Arnd Bronkhorst // www.arnd.nl.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

In October 2021, 19-year-old Skye Morssinkhof jumped her first senior Nations Cup in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain, going clear for the Dutch team with the 11-year-old mare G-vingino-blue (VDL Zirocco Blue x Orame). A month prior, the pair had won the U25 NetAachen-Prize at CHIO Aachen. To World of Showjumping, Morssinkhof tells about her special relationship with G-vingino-blue, the huge step from the junior and young rider ring to the senior scene, and how her trainer Darragh Kenny has given her confidence in this transition period.

G-vingino-blue

G-vingino-blue came to Skye as a six-year-old. “I got her young, and we grew into the sport together,” Skye explains. “My dad found her, and when I tried her, I must say it was not a click from the first moment. Now, she is my favourite and we form a great team. Everything we did was a first – from juniors to young riders and now to our first senior classes. For me she is a really special horse and I have had some very good results with her.”

“She is a real mare, a grumpy mare,” Skye laughs. “In the stable you would not believe the fighter she is in the ring, but her heart is her best quality. When we are at a show, I know she will do everything for me, she always tries her best and I love that about her. She loves her job so much, and I think what makes her so special is how she fights for me in the ring. She is by far the best horse I have ever had.”

Aiming for a professional career

“I don’t describe myself as a professional rider yet, but that is my goal,” Skye says. “We have a big family where a lot of us ride; my siblings ride and I have many cousins who compete at international level. At one point, we had nine riders from our family at one show! Now, everyone is getting a bit older and is going to university or working, so it is getting a bit less. Our fathers were always into horses and they used to ride a bit when they were younger, so it has been in our blood. I would say that we are a horse-family, but our business is not related to horses.”

Photo © Moises Basallote In October 2021, 19-year-old Skye Morssinkhof jumped her first senior Nations Cup in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain, going clear for the Dutch team with the 11-year-old mare G-vingino-blue. Photo © Moises Basallote.

“What I love most about riding, is how you work together with a horse and can feel the progress you make,” Skye says. “When you work hard and finally achieve your goal; I like that. In this sport, nothing comes for free, you have to work for it. Feeling the horses getting better and enjoying their job, is just the best there is.”

Gaining confidence

After finishing high school, Skye took a gap year to focus on riding. “I just wanted to ride, so I opted for a break and looked for a place I could train at. Darragh has always been an idol of mine, so I asked if I could train there for a few months – and I basically just never left.”

“I have learned a lot from him,” Skye tells about training with Darragh. “He is definitely a big part of the success that I have had in the last year. Moving up to senior level has been a huge step: Competing in the young riders, I felt like I could do it, but when I went into the senior classes, I felt like back to square one. You have to work your way up again. It is definitely a challenge, but I do like it.”

“Darragh taught me to have confidence,” Skye tells about the biggest lesson learned from the Irish rider. “I think I lacked that before I started training with him. I have learned so much simply by watching him ride: There are so many small things that combined together have been important for my riding.”

“When Skye came to me, I felt she tried her best in everything she did,” Darragh Kenny tells. “Skye was very dedicated to what she wanted to do and to what she wanted to achieve. In the time I trained her, I never felt that she was not putting a 100% effort into what she was doing. I think she is very, very talented, very determined and her will to become a good rider is going to be what makes her really good in the end. She is very driven, and I believe she is going to make it, because she really wants it, and she doesn’t let anybody get in her way – she works very hard.”

Photo © Hervé Bonnaud/www.1clicphoto.com "Feeling the horses getting better and enjoying their job, is just the best there is," Skye says. Photo © Hervé Bonnaud/www.1clicphoto.com.

“It is the step in a rider’s career that is the most difficult,” Darragh says about the transition from young riders to seniors that Skye has made. “You might have had a lot of success as a junior and young rider – like Skye – and then you have to go out and try to achieve that as a senior too. It is a very difficult step to make, because there are so many people in the sport doing it at the same time and so many are older and already very successful – there are not so many doors open. I think the most important thing is that you work hard, are dedicated and care about the horses – because this will be noticed, and then people will be a bit more willing to help you.”

Stepping up

Skye’s Nations Cup appearance with the senior team marked a milestone for the young Dutch rider. “After the young rider Europeans, I set a new goal, and that was to jump a senior Nations Cup – for me it was something I really wanted to achieve in 2021 and it could not have gone any better. I jumped clear but unfortunately one time-fault too much kept the team from qualifying for the second round,” Skye tells. “For me it was all about learning: The riders I was on the team with are very experienced and they could teach me a lot,” Skye continues. “Of course, it feels like an honour, I feel I don’t belong on that level yet.”

“Now, my next goal is to bring my second horse to the higher level, and jump the young rider Europeans this year – and maybe have a medal or a top ten placing,” Skye tells about her future plans. “Long-term, I aim to be a professional rider, to be able to do what I love forever. I think this is a time of transition for me and it is a process: I am trying to build my own business. In five years, I would like to be jumping in Aachen, in the five-star Grand Prix.”

Finding the right horsepower has been the toughest part of Skye’s transition to senior level. “Getting the right horses is hard,” she tells. “We are a horse family, but it is not a business for us, so we don’t have that many horses – and we can’t just buy them. I have some young horses coming up, but it takes a long time to develop them. I think I need to have a lot of patience with the young horses as well as hoping to find the right owners, so that in the end I can have a good group to compete with at the level I want to be at.”

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping



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