He is the 'boss' of a large family and dedicated to horses and horse riding. Ludo Philippaerts talks about 'his stable life'
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Ludo Philippaerts was for decades the pole of the Belgian flag and landmark of world show jumping. His fame accompanies him in all competitive fields, not only for the results obtained in competition and his impressive resume but for horses that have accompanied him in the years of his affirmation up to the pinnacle of his career and where he remains stable at the top. Therefore a 'father' on all fronts, family and horses.
In April 2015 he decided to retire from competitions to focus on the professional and competitive development of his sons Olivier and Nicola, the older siblings, and on the training of the younger children Antony and Thibauld in addition to training horses in the family stable, the Stud Farm Dorperheide, at Guitrode in Belgium.
There are many horses that have left a mark on Ludo's career, starting with the legendary Darco, his extraordinary son Parco, a beautiful grey stallion, and also Otterongo vd Kopshoeve, King Darco and the most recent Challenge vd Begijnakker, Denver vh Goemanshof and many others. Of them all, Darco is one to which the name Ludo is linked by the entire equestrian world; the mighty Belgian stallion (BWP 1980 – 2006 Lugano van la Roche x Codex) is one of the most important performer stallions of the last twenty years and its influence is still today crucial in horse breeding.
Ludo and Darco practically grew up together on a career that took them up to three European Championships, a World Championship and an Olympic Games...So strong was the link between the two and the exceptional qualities of the bay jumper that Ludo has had in his stable many of its offspring, some of whom, following in the tracks of their father, entered the history of show jumping, such as Otterongo van de Kopshoeve, the charming grey Parco, and another sensational grey, Winning Mood van de Arenberg, today's top horse of Luciana Diniz. "Darco boasts an excellent genetic line. For many years Darco was the first stallion in the world for the number of winning horses to whom he passed on his qualities – says Ludo Philippaerts - Darco was a very lively horse, a little slow because of his great physique, with so much character and a very strong personality, always respectful and collaborative; he had a great head and knew his mind very well.I owe my career to him and to his wonderful offspring. Moreover, regarding his numerous qualities, in breeding he used excellent mares who then, in turn, gave excellent products".
Ludo Philippartes is the father of an extraordinary family. Four children, including the twins Nicola and Olivier, 22 years, former international champions, and the two younger children, Thibault aged 13, and Antony 11, who already compete in junior categories at excellent levels. "It's great to go into competition with my children - says Philippaerts smiling - I think every father wants to have this experience even though it is not always easy because the relationship that develops is two-fold, father - son and instructor - student, and sometimes being impartial in judgements and separating the two things is not easy. What I have always tried to pass on to my children are a passion and a love for horses, the desire to grow in this sport and to experience it with joy and fun. To keep up, though, you need to be competitive and I must admit that in this respect my children resemble me. Besides that, they have grown up with me. I have a very strong competitive spirit and it has always been a characteristic, one that I have transmitted to them. Fortunately, though, in addition to my example, my children have the opportunity to compete with the best riders in the world and this is an opportunity for them for tremendous growth. But what I've always tried to teach them, beyond the technical aspect and professionalism, is the beauty of our sport and the luck that we have in doing this work. I love horses and the time I spend riding every day for me is a joy, a satisfaction".
Ludo Philippaerts is an icon of world show jumping. For over thirty years he was at the top and thus witness to the evolution that show jumping has undergone with the passing of time: "Our sport today is much changed compared to when I was starting out – says Philippaerts - over the past twenty years we have seen a gradual improvement in the technical and professional level of riders and the quality of the horses, not to mention the growing level of competition and competition structures. Today we are seeing the best of the best in every aspect. This is positive, you have to keep going forward. Returning to the horses, if we look at the most important competition events we are witnessing an extraordinary quality both in the athletic appearance and in character and personality. Today first and foremost horses must have a good head to succeed in sport as it is structured with continuous trips all over the world, increasingly technical courses and high competitiveness. The commitment required is huge. The same goes for the riders who must have their head firmly on their shoulders.
Today it is not enough just to be able to ride well, you need to be men of horses, riders and managers. You need an organisation and a detailed and precise program and always be thinking of improvement".
The Philippaerts stable is therefore very well organised thanks especially to the unity that the family structure is able to generate: "At our stable, the Dorperheide Stud Farm, we have more or less fifty horses at work - says Ludo - some of which we own while others are shared with different owners. In addition to the training of horses and the competitive side, we also organise courses and internships for the riders and we also have a stud station and a small breeding facility with good mares that become pregnant through my experience and my instincts. Darco's blood is however always at the base of the breeding facility that is passed down through his offspring because I believe that, even if today there are many excellent reproducers, it is a stallion whose influence is still excellent in the modern sports horse ... " concludes Philippartes with a thought always for his large stallion and a keen eye on the future, a future that has four names: Nicola, Olivier, Thibault and Antony…
Ludo Philippaerts was born in Genk, in Belgium, in 1963. He married Veronique in 1990, he had four children, the twins Olivier and Nicola, born in 1993, Thibault who was born in 2000 and Anthony in 2003. He lives with his family in Meeuwen - Gruitrode, a town in the Flemish province of Limburg, at the Dorperheide Stud farm that is also his stable (www.philippaerts.be).
It was his father Antoon that put him in the saddle when he was very young, along with his brother Johan and his sisters Greet and Rita, at an equestrian centre not far from home. At the age of 12 Ludo was already regional show jumping champion riding Gamin and a year later he was national champion with Romanus. Thus began his achievements in Junior competitions in show jumping and full events ... From then on his career always grew tremendously.
It was during the early 1980s when Ludo, still a Junior, became a member of the Royal Belgian Equestrian Federation and took part in his first junior European Championship. Having become a Senior, Ludo made his first appearance in an official international competition in 1986 in Brussels presenting Alkenar and a young horse named Darco ... a name that soon became legendary. From that moment on, the two were never again separated... Ludo Philippaerts has taken part in the four editions of the Olympic Games, three World Championships, ten European Championships, winning in 2001 in Arnhem, the individual silver riding Otterongo van de Kopshoeve, and fourteen World Cup Finals.
In addition to the legendary Darco, his "historic" horses are Parco and Otterongo van de Kopshoeve, although the list of horses that have passed and pass beneath his saddle is truly endless. In his career he has won an impressive number of Grand Prix events, Nations Cups and top-level competitions on the most prestigious courses in the World. In April 2015 he retired from competition.