Preparations TeamNL-riders for FEI European Championships Rotterdam 2019

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During Indoor Brabant – The Dutch Masters, Maarten van der Heijden, technical director at KNHS, together with chefs d’equipe Rob Ehrens, Alex van Silfhout and Joyce Heuitink, gave an in-depth explanation of the preparations and planning of TeamNL for the FEI European Championships Show Jumping, Dressage and Para-Dressage in Rotterdam from the 19th to the 25thof August. Joyce Lebon, manager sports of the EC Rotterdam, provided further information about the program and the layout of the venue.

The European Championships for Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian disciplines are held every two years, this edition is organized in Rotterdam and Luhmühlen. The EC Rotterdam 2019 will be the biggest equestrian event in the Netherlands since the 1994 World Equestrian Games in the Hague. The team coaches have put together an extensive plan for their (potential) squad members, as can be found below for each discipline. The team announcements will take place via the online KNHS-channels within a week after the last observation event.

In the press conference, Maarten van der Heijden revealed that Edward Gal (dressage), Harrie Smolders (jumping) and Rixt van der Horst (para-dressage) are the official TeamNL-ambassadors in the run-up towards the EC Rotterdam.

Joyce Lebon: “The CHIO Rotterdam is an established event. This year, the venue is expanded and the lay-out differs significantly. The Rotterdam stadium will be fully equipped for the sport. Rotterdam has never hosted such a massive equestrian event before which will be noticable in the city in the coming months. The lake area Kralingse Plas is included in the venue for hospitality and catering services. Meanwhile, the full program is available on the website, with the exception of the detailed schedule of the grades of para-dressage, these are to be announced later.”

Currently the preparations for the Olympic Games of 2020 are also in full swing. “For the coming year and a half, the KNHS will be paying special attention to adequate preparation for the heat and humidity in Tokyo, thanks to intensive monitoring by our team veterinarians in cooperation with a thermos-physiologist of the NOC*NSF,” says Maarten van der Heijden.

Chef d’equipe Rob Ehrens: “For jumping we decided on no ‘future’ group, as seen in the other disciplines. However, I spotted several up-and-coming combinations in the higher courses in Den Bosch last night. In jumping, things change quickly. Coming season, the FEI assigned four Nation Cup competitions to us, the first three are included in the EC observation. Dublin, scheduled a week before the European Championships, is too late for that. From the 1st of May till mid-August, there are 30 5* competitions on the agenda. For me as a national coach, it means intensive communication to get the riders to start at the competitions that matter to TeamNL. The established names will therefore participate in two observation events, maximum.”

Observation events:

  • - National Championships Jumping Mierlo 25-29 April 2019
  • - FEI Nations Cup Division I (the competitions that were assigned to the Netherlands by the FEI.)
  • o CSIO5* Sopot (POL) 13-16 June 2019
  • o CSIO5* Geesteren (NED) 20-23 June 2019
  • o CSIO5* Falsterbo (SWE) 11-14 July 2019

Olympic jumping squad TeamNL:

B-squad jumping TeamNL:


Chef d’equipe Alex van Silfhout: “I started my position as team coach at the beginning of this year and I am still settling in. At the moment, we have a considerable group that can produce nice scores, but we are still missing a phenomenon for an 80% score. Recently, I have visited a lot of stables and the future of dressage in the Netherlands looks bright. Nevertheless, it will take some time before we reach the top again. The planning towards the EC includes just two observation events, though perhaps CHIO Aken is added to the list. We have already started the central training sessions. Teamwork is important and it’s an area we stand to gain the most: everyone watching each other, in order to present the horses even better.”

Observation events:

  • - National Championships Dressage Ermelo 24-26 May 2019
  • - CDIO3*/CDI3* Geesteren 17-23 June 2019

Olympic dressage squad TeamNL:

B-squad dressage TeamNL:


Chef d’equipe Joyce Heuitink: “Last year the World Championships in Tryon felt like Disney World to me. That is the treacherous side of winning, afterwards you have to keep going. My goal is to keep the selection as broad as possible. Maintain the form of the existing combinations and find new talents. Our usual training camp for a championship is at the beginning of August with the team and the reserve combination. Now, we also do a training camp in May with the A- and B-squad, so that we can prepare for the full spectrum of Rotterdam and Tokyo.“

Observation events:

  • - National Championships (Para) Dressage Ermelo 24-26 May 2019
  • - CPEDI3* Kronenberg 6-9 June 2019
  • - CPEDI3* Überherrn 11-14 July 2019

Paralympic dressage squad TeamNL:

B-squad para-dressage TeamNL:

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