After I had driven a good dressage test in Zelhem and Saumur, I had planned to start with the horses of Argentinean four-in-hand driver Baron Wolf von Buchholtz at Riesenbeck. Von Buchholtz has not recovered completely yet from his hunting accident last fall and I have trained his horses this season.
After my somewhat disappointing score in Aachen where I had to miss my all-round horse Argus, I decided to change my plans and to start in Lähden instead of in Riesenbeck. German four-in-hand driver Christoph Sandmann organizes a wonderful international combined driving event at his place every two years and this year, the complete world top was represented again. Including my biggest opponent for the World title, Australia’s Boyd Exell. I wanted to battle against him one more time after Aachen and drive a good dressage test.
I had brought the seven-year-old Whooper to Lähden, who was also part of my winning team in Saumur in 2009 and 2010. My team went very well in Lähden and everyone said that the difference with Boyd in the dressage should have been bigger. I stayed ahead of him in the marathon and I drove a double clear round in the cones, despite the pressure Boyd put on me. I won the competition and that felt super, especially because I now have the feeling that I have made up for Aachen. Lähden was my last competition before the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and I will focus completely now on the World Championships.
It is my habit not to drive any more competitions four to five weeks before a World Championship and to create my own training camp. I focus on the six or seven horses, which are eligible for the World Championship. I drive them once a day and they are also ridden once a day. We will probably also train a few days at a competition site in The Netherlands or abroad.
I don’t know exactly yet which horses I will take to Kentucky. Argus, who was injured before the horse inspection in Aachen, is back in training again and he is doing well. Whooper did an excellent job in Saumur and in Lähden and he for sure contributes to my dressage team. In the marathon he does not perform less than Argus and he is strong and safe in the cones.
I will go to Kentucky with a good feeling. I don’t have to improve much, I just have to keep the form we had in Lähden. It will be a very exciting battle and especially the dressage will be important.
My carriages, harness, bicycles and other necessities are already on the boat to Kentucky. The horses will fly on September 28th. All Dutch driving horses fly together and will be accompanied by my wife Paulien and team veterinarian Ben Horsmans. My horses have never flown before, but I don’t see any problems. They are top fit and I don’t think they will suffer. They will stay in a quarantine stable for two days and then we take them directly to the show grounds where we will start training again. I am looking forward to the World Equestrian Games!