THE NETHERLANDS (by Christopher Hector) Gert Jan and Anne Van Olst are the ‘power couple’ of Dutch dressage. Anne has been a regular member of Danish dressage teams at Games and WEGs, while Gert Jan runs a sophisticated breeding operation and cutting-edge stallion station in Den Hout. Like a couple of the key players in Dutch dressage breeding, Gert Jan started out as a jumping man, but married into the dressage world.
Before that, he stood a couple of the real showjumping stallion stars, including the last son of Almé.... “I had Animo, I had Andiamo, we had some quite good jumping horses because that was my first thing... We still have a very good son of Andiamo – Dynamo. Jumping is more and more complicated, if
you really want to do both things very well, it is too much.”
Q Were you a rider?
I was a rider, but I found out that I was not really good enough to reach the very top, so I thought I’d better face reality. I was very interested in breeding, so that’s where I went with the stallions. Then my wife came in, and everything changed bit by bit to dressage.
Q Was it also that you saw the market was changing and that there was a big market for dressage horses?
You could feel that was coming, that it was going to be a very big and very interesting market. Still I would say that the jumping market is bigger, more clients, more riders, and also with the prizemoney, jumping horses are more expensive. The big difference between jumping and dressage is that I can sell a nice three-year-old ridden dressage horse, and that is important to me – to be able to sell 70 percent of my three-year-olds. With jumping horses, they want them, but they want them ridden in the ring, six, seven years old. Yes, the prices are big, but you have to spend a lot of time with them, and take them to shows, that’s the difference between the two markets.
Q Have you been affected by the European-wide down- turn in performance horse breeding?
Luckily we have had the chance to keep on growing. Of course at a certain stage the point will come when it goes down, but until now we have been lucky having the right stallions at the right time, and doing the right thing.
The star of the stallion barn – and he knows it – is Negro...
“Negro was the big thing be- hind our success, he made us.... Negro himself, then with his breeding, with the sons and also with the brood-mares, he is fantastic the way he is stamping his progeny.
He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse. We are very lucky to have him.
He is twenty years old but he is doing very well, look, he has the expression in his eyes of a three-year-old. He has been unbelievable value for us, a lot of top sons and daughters. Valegro is of course, the best...