First of all: Feeling

To have feeling with the horse is best quality of a good rider: experiences and reflections by Franke Sloothaak.


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German jumping champion Franke Sloothaak expresses his points of view about riding. (read the previous article on Franke Sloothaak): "Feeling is a subjective skill, not taught - says Sloothaak - It's hard to explain what talent is: it's a set of things, is the feeling with the horse, character, discipline, harmony of the body on the saddle... it's many things all at once but in the end what counts is the horse and the ability to relate to him. Horses are animals and, as such, are often better than us. They are teachers and they can teach us if we listen to them. Those who behave badly with horses or mistreat them, do that primarily because of lack of culture, insecurity, and inability to wait and be patient. Wrongdoers eliminate itself because they have no chances, and if they understand they have none, if they are intelligent enough, they'll try to improve themselves, to respect the horses, to know them. Therefore, either we understand and change attitude and improve ourselves, or we lose. But it would be wrong to condemn the entire world of horse riding due to misbehaviour. We have to see the good and not always try to find the bad and the ugly. We must not think that there is some kind of method or system that, when applied, makes us win; we must reverse the concept: the only way to go is to listen to the horses, it is them who make us better. The results come thanks to them and to our intuition in understanding them and interpreting them. This is where we must begin."

Franke Sloothaak has been an unsurpassed champion for over three decades and today he continues his career as an international rider, training the young horses and riders who take part in his frequent workshops. But who would Franke Sloothaak be today with his horses of the past?: "I do not want to compare the past to the present or project myself into the future - he said - The past is the past, I cannot say if my horses of the past, as Weihaiwej and Jolie Coer, They could have obtained the same results today. The past should be left where it is: in the past. Now I live the present and the future is not known. I haven't changed much since that time. Sure, I gained experience comparing myself with the other riders, with the trainers, observing the best pairs, witnessing the changes. I continue to work with the same passion, the same enthusiasm and following the concept that has guided me in all these years: working with my horse, not against him. Knowing every day what your goal is. I work on flat level a lot teaching horses the foundation to gain control in complete harmony. Then, when you enter a Grand Prix, what counts are the smallest details, the finest shades. Today there is a lot of money at stake. I have been racing for over thirty years and every year it gets harder. To stay at the top today, a horse is not enough, it takes at least three Grand Prix horses and that's not easy at all. The advent of new rich teams with riders who buy the best horses without being able to ride them doesn't do any good to this sport, but unfortunately this is the situation and there is no going back. ​
Many riders prefer to participate in the Global Tour rather than in the official competitions and nations cups, because the prize of a Global Grand Prix is much higher than any official competition. Jeroen Dubbeldam won double gold at the at the European Championships proving to be a great horseman; He has made a choice to be a true sportsman, planning the work of his horse in a perfect way, but surely he would have earned a lot more money participating in more Global Tour Grands Prix competitions. He leads by example, but not everyone can follow in his footsteps. We have to change the rules, impose the achievement of scores and qualifications to move to a higher level of competition, split the jackpots better to encourage owners to race with their horses without wanting to go too fast to earn everything immediately, jeopardizing the career the horses themselves and losing confidence. Otherwise, how can you maintain an international stable? We have allow the riders, the owners to maintain themselves, just so we can go back to give the right value to competitions and teamwork. I now mount on horseback every day and I work with Paul Schockemöhle twice a week; I also do workshops in the Netherlands and Germany.
​My challenge today is with myself: to see the horses change and grow, and to continue to grow with them "... All this makes Franke Sloothaak a champion out of time.