l-r: Igor’s co-owner, Graziella Janssen, Igor, Jos Verlooy, Marie Van Miert

By Jo de Roo
Photography: FEI, personal collection

On the occasion of the Mechelen ‘Christmas Showjumping Memorial Eric Wauters’, the extraordinary showjumper Igor was crowned as Landbouwleven Horse of the Year. In partnership with Jos Verlooy, Igor has caused a furore in the international showjumping world, including the individual bronze medal and the golden Belgian team medal at the 2019 European Championship in Rotterdam.

Born in 2008, the BWP-registered Igor was bred by Maarten Van Waes. He is the result of combining legendary showjumper/progenitor Emerald van’t Ruytershof (Diamant de Semilly - Carthina Z x Carthago) with Tinica (Nabab de Rêve - Inica x Gibramino). And, according to his rider, Jos Verlooy, “Igor has all qualities a top showjumper needs”.

Jos Verlooy talks about Igor

Q How did Igor come to join your stables?
Maarten Van Waes, Igor’s breeder, called us and asked if we were interested in Igor. At that time Igor was four-years-old and a product of Emerald’s first vintage. As we are Emerald’s owners, my father Axel was interested. He and Harrie Smolders went to see Igor. Harrie rode him, but the demonstration was not easy. Igor was quite a character, and rather opinionated. My father said to the breeder: ‘Ride the horse for one more year. If he becomes a little bit easier, we have a deal’. One year later, Van Waes called my father and said ‘I think Igor is ready for it.’ We tested the horse. We were impressed and bought him. Igor is such a talented showjumper.’
Q You only started to ride Igor at the age of nine? 
Formerly, Igor was ridden by some of our stable riders. I started to ride him at the moment that I felt he was ready to perform, and started him at international showjumping tournaments at a high level. He had made good progress.
Igor (Emerald van’t Ruytershof - Tinica x Nabab de Rêve) ridden by Jos Verlooy (BEL)

Q Tell us about Igor’s particular showjumping qualities? 

He has a brilliant, unique technique. He has the kind of technique that every rider or owner is looking for. Moreover, he has great suppleness, he can easily jump wide fences, etc. Igor has all the qualities a top showjumper needs. He is a complete horse.’

Q And what about his character?
Igor does have a special character, so I have to show him that I am the boss. Each top horse has a bit of character. I think that a top performer needs that, and Igor has a strong character. I have to admit that he has made me sweat for some years. It feels like he knows that he is special. Now, thanks to his experience and age, it’s becoming better and better. I can see the positive evolution. Igor is developing in an outstanding competitive showjumper.’

Q Tell us about your results? 

My best until now is undoubtedly the performances at the European championship. When we sold 50% of Igor to Mrs. Graziella Janssen, I said that Igor will be very special in my career. He is so special, and I think I will never have a second Igor. I hope that I’m wrong as I’m still young. Igor is a great performer and is ready to collect medals at great tournaments. At the Rotterdam European championship we claimed two medals and it’s only the start of our career. The best is yet to come, but in 2019 I felt that his experience is really starting to show. I learned several things from our participation at the Tryon WEG (2018), so in Rotterdam I had great self-confidence, and in the coming years Igor will only become stronger. He will definitely improve with age.’..To read the complete article you need to be a subscriberCLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO BREEDING NEWS

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