By Liis Ira
On March 21, the Estonian Sport Horse breeders will gather to elect a new board, as well as its chairman for the next three years. This year, however, is going to be rather different. Raigo Kollom, chairman of the board for the past 20 years, and the man who has built the ESH studbook from zero, has announced that he will retire.
Our small society of Estonian Sport Horse breeders (around 270 members and 250 registered foals per year) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (the studbook’s official recognition followed one year later). We may be tiny but also quite outstanding. In 2005 we became an associate member of the WBFSH, and a full member in 2010. Compared to some of our eastern European neighbours to the north and south, our studbook is higher placed in online rankings according to competition results.
In 2017, our ESH studbook was represented by its own Ping Pong V (Ponsee V x Calvino Z) at the World Breeding Championship for Young Horses and finished a brilliant sixth in the six-year-old age-group under the saddle of Estonian rider Paul Argus. Then, in 2019, the first Estonian Sport Horse – Caesar (Cash x Agrovorm’s Amerigo) – achieved the qualifying standard for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with Chinese rider You Zhang.
ESH Alfons Ra (Aromats x False Pass) is successfully jumping international Grand Prix courses in partnership with Brazilian Yuri Mansur, who purchased the horse in Estonia last summer. It was only 20 years ago that sport horse breeders in Estonia began with a vision of the goals they wanted to achieve.
Although ESH has grown into a group of highly dedicated breeders, much of the studbooks success is due to one man – Raigo Kollom – who created the studbook from nothing and has seen it grow thanks to his work, enthusiasm, and dedication over the past two decades. His efforts to educate breeders, his straightforward manner of communication, as well as his uncompromising respect for functionality in sport horses have led the studbook to where it is today.
Raigo Kollom’s personality is an amalgamation of a former top showjumping rider, a trainer, an historian, a writer, as well as a manager of various equestrian organizations. For many years his work has been led by the vision of an Estonian Sport Horse as one of quality, and his lifetime experiences have collectively bonded the Estonian breeders together into a united society that shares this common goal. Kollom himself has said that riding is like leading people, “you can be democratic, an authoritarian, or a liberal leader. Every style has its merits, but democratic leadership means fewer casualties and more joy.” With such firmness and transparency he has built the studbook to a point where he has decided to retire at the meeting in March.
Becoming a horseman
Raigo Kollom was a city child and only discovered horses in high school when he accompanied his classmates to riding lessons. He was the only one who stayed with horses, remaining as an active rider throughout his university years from which he graduated as a teacher of Estonian language and literature.
Between 1956 and 1971 he was a member of the Estonian national team and achieved remarkable results in both three-day eventing and showjumping at an international level. After graduation he worked for a decade as a studfarm manager and trainer at the historic Tori stud in central Estonia, as well as teaching history and the Estonian language at the local school.
During this period, his skills as an exceptional horseman and trainer were noticed, and he was offered the position as head coach of the Jõud sports club – one of the top three sporting clubs at that time... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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