What a year is has been! Although 2020 did not go as planned, I do want to thank everyone who made it a year to remember. I’ve been very fortunate to start 2020 in Abu Dhabi. I brought three of my horses and we began our tour of the UAE at the CSI4* Al Shira’aa Horse Show. We also competed at the CSI3* show in Sharjah and I was very pleased to place 4th in the 1.50m Grand Prix with Curious George, an eleven-year-old gelding sired by Codex One. After that we moved on to the CSIO5* event back in Abu Dhabi, organised by the United Arab Emirates Equestrian Federation. One of the highlights there was definitely that I entered Curious George in his first ever five-star Grand Prix. Next to this 1.60m class I also jumped him in two World Cup classes, and he really gave it his all! With a top debut at this level I was confident that we were on the rise… and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Me and my team had to regroup and shift our focus. However not being able to go to shows provided new opportunities. Besides giving the stables and all our gear a big spring clean, we also got to spend more time with the young horses at home. I really enjoyed working with them more closely and getting to know them. Normally our routine means we are constantly travelling from show to show and we get to spend less time with the youngster. Seeing them improve on a day-to-day basis made me a happy rider this year!
Like everyone else I had to adjust my goals, but the end result remained the same. To have the horses that I ride excel and help them become the best that they can be. It has been the first year ever in my career that I’ve had a break. Which allowed me to reflect and made me think about how I was going about my work. Was I giving my horses the best feed and supplements, was my gear and tack of the quality I need it to be? With the support of NAF and my other sponsors I got to perfect the conditions for my horses, which I am very grateful for. By finetuning small things, me and my team made sure we spent the lockdown as well as possible.
When the shows started picking up again, I was lucky to compete at quite a few. Both in Belgium and in Spain. It was great to be back in the game again! One of my horses, H&M Kirlo van den Bosrand, did especially well. This ten-year-old gelding sired by VDL Cardento, collected top rankings and ribbons like no other this year. He jumped into the top five of almost every Longines ranking class we competed in. And we finished the outdoor season this November at the Sunshine Tour with an eight place in the Grand Prix.
All in all, this year has definitely been one to remember. I cannot thank the people that have supported me this year enough! To my sponsors and of course Abdel Said: It has been a pleasure to work with you!