A luxury hotel for horses

Laura Schalkwijk

This summer he will have to stable at least 300 horses in the Kralingse Bos during the Longines FEI European Championships; a record. Margien Willemsen (33) will enter his eleventh year as equerry, and this will be his biggest and last job. With the help of over fifty volunteers, he has to ensure that the horses get everything they need.

'First of all, we need good stables. Hundreds of boxes will be built on a relatively narrow strip of grass opposite the windmills at the Plaszoom in order to accommodate all the horses. Other facilities, such as offices, an Internet connection, sufficient power, a place to eat, proper security – after all, the equipment and horses are worth millions of euros – and a warm-up arena are required at the stable location.

Accommodating the horses is a major operation. Willemsen has a rough idea of when the teams will arrive and how many horses they will have. When they arrive, they will be taken to the parking and checked in. ‘We’re just like a hotel.’

We’ll need about 8,000 kilos of hay, 10,000 kilos of straw and 30,000 kilos of sawdust for the Longines FEI European Championships. ‘We supply hay, straw or sawdust to those who ask for it on a daily basis. Room service.’

The forthcoming Longines FEI European Championships will not only be his biggest job, but also his last. ‘It’s a great job, but it takes up a lot of time. Besides, you should always leave at your peak, shouldn’t you?’

photo credits: Raymond de Vries

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