National Championships 2017 at Hulsberg

Posted: 13-07-2017

National Championships 2017 at Hulsberg

At the Equine park Hulsberg a very beautiful and well organised competition was presented by ‘Menvereniging Zuid-Limburg’ in the weekend of 5-9 July 2017. The pair drivers competed here for the Dutch National Championships.

Of course Tristan and his team hoped to get the number one contender and to become Dutch champion. But in the run up for this contest things did not go as usual. The all-round horse Blits was not fit to compete due to a minor injury; hence Tristan had to make the tough decision to leave Blits at home. Fortunately, friend and trainer Riny Rutjens offered a solution by allowing Tristan to make use of one of his best driving horses. Tristan and Riny jointly trained intensely to get ready for Hulsberg. “This pair does not feel as familiar as my own two horses,” Tristan says. “So we exercised a lot and now we are ready to present our quality to the jury in the dressage arena.” Team Verheijen was ready to compete for the Dutch title!

Friday was dedicated to the first trial, the dressage. Looking back on their dressage test, Tristan and his team are satisfied. “The horses did an excellent job: they stayed calm and listened very well. I could tell that they were a bit tired by the intense preparatory trainings, causing some mistakes in the finishing touch. But overall I was very happy with our performance.” The jury rewarded the test with 54,42 points and ranked team Verheijen at the 7th place after the dressage.

Even with a 7th position after dressage, the chance to win the Dutch Championship was not unreal. In the marathon however Tristan had to make a few adjustments due to the absence of Blits. His own horse Andy had to move to the other side - the place of the injured Blits. The adjustments caused the pair of horses not performing as usual, when Blits would have drawn the carriage. Tristan had not yet practised many marathon obstacles with this new pair. So it was hard for him to weigh up the horses’ behaviour. “I knew I should not drive too fast to prevent a mess. Due to the fact that the two horses did not yet form a ‘block’ they could not smoothly negotiate the obstacles. As a consequence we sometimes hit a post with a penalty ball. Of course it is not our intention to dislodge balls in marathon obstacles, but this is what happened.” Finally team Verheijen completed the marathon trial at the 17th position and dropped to the 14th place in the total score.

Sunday afternoon all competitors were invited to navigate the difficult cones course with as few penalty points as possible. Nobody managed to reach the finish without any penalty points, so this also went for Team Verheijen. However, Tristan put down a strong performance with his horses Andy and Chicane (i.e. Riny Rutjens’ horse): 1 ball and 5,18 penalty points for exceeding the time limit. This resulted in the second place! “The hard ground prevented me to drive fast. I felt I would then lose control over my carriage. That made this trial extra complicated. Riny Rutjens’ horse was again performing very strong, going for the full 10 points; he’s a great horse.”

Due to their second place in the cones, team Verheijen managed to climb to a nice 8th place in the final result of all Dutch competitors.
Tristan and his team are very grateful to Riny Rutjens for letting them use one of his best horses. Without Riny and his horse Chicane this result would not have been possible!

The next competition for Team Verheijen will take place at Beekbergen, on the 3rd till 6th of August 2017.