This week I’m really excited to be chatting with Dutch dressage rider Julia Bouthoorn. Based at Stal Hexagon in the Netherlands, Julia is a rising star and has just been selected for the Dutch U25 team at the European championship in Hungary. Read on to discover more about Julia, her ambitions, and her top tip for success.
Tell us about you and your horsesHi, my name is Julia, twenty two years old and I’m from the Netherlands. At the moment I’m riding with my highest horse International U25. My other horses are between 3 till 10 years old and are all at different levels. Between them I have my own competitions horses, sales horses and horses in training. Meanwhile I’m also studying on the Johan Cruyff academy. A Small University for athletes. I’m really grateful to be a part of their institution. I’m studying Commercial Economics and this way it is the perfect combination study and sport.
How did horses come into your life?My mom has a dressage stable together with her family. When I was young I spent all my time there playing with my pony and helping in the stable after school. This way I really fell in love with them but also learned from close by that it is hard working in the horse world.
How long have you been riding?I’ve been riding since I was 4 years old.
When and where do you ride?My 4 competition horses are all stabled at Stal Hexagon and I’m having lessons there from Thamar Zweistra. The rest of the horses are kept at my family stable 30 min away from each other. I chose to have my competition horses stabled at Stal Hexagon because they have such a high-top sport mentality and that really helps to set higher goals. I’m riding them there everyday by myself and training them to the highest level possible. Next to the riding I’m also just grooming them by myself, also on their days off. When possible my mom is always helping me a lot to make everything work.
How did you start riding?I started with riding when I was 4 years old on a small pony. He was quite a naughty pony so I was more falling off than really riding but I got a lot of perseverance from it and I liked it even more after it. After that I went over to bigger ponies and just had a lot of fun with them. I did some pony FEI level dressage and amateur Jumping with them. But already back then I knew that my heart was belonging to dressage. When I was 12 years old I got our home bred mare to ride. She was young, really green and I educated her myself to young rider level. I really learned a lot from this. I like it more to educate a horse by myself than to take a schoolmaster over. This way when you are educating them by yourself it just takes a little longer to get there and a lot of patience but in the end you get so much back for it.
What you and your horses currently working on?I’m working with all my horses on different things depending on age and education level. With my U25 horse I’m working now more on making my test to perfection and making everything more precise on the letters. For example, with my 6 years old by Sir Heinrich I’m practicing the flying changes to make them nice, big and straighter. My other talented young horse a 4 years old approved stallion by Deparon. I’m really doing basic work to make him stronger and moving on his own legs. For me the most important thing for my young horses is diversity in the work. Next to dressage training with them I also loves to do some cavalettis, lunging and hacking out.
What do you love about riding?I love to work with horses because of the strong friendships that you are building between each other. When I start to work with a new horse it is always super exiting to get to know their different characters and start building a new partnership. Young horses are also giving me a lot of energy back because they are learning and changing so quick. Next to all of this I’m a real competition rider that loves showing them when they are ready.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?I would like to continue for now the same way. Training and competing 5/6 horses from myself and other owners. Next to that I still have perfect time to get my degree in Commercial Economics and maybe after graduation to do a master on the University. But let’s see what the future will bring.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?I think everyone has some natural nerves with competitions. I’m really happy that I don’t have too many. The moment I step on the horse for warming up, then all my nerves are going away because I know that I’m ready for it.
How do you deal with them?My nerves always are going away from the moment I step up to warm up. The evening before the test I’m always visualizing the test that I have to ride. I just keep repeating this until it is perfect in my head. I think this is always really helping. I’m just feeling really grateful already for the possibilities and support that I have.
Your Top TipBefore a competition just think about the goals you set for your test. It doesn’t mean winning, sometimes you set other goals like riding a relaxed round, nice changes or just riding a straight centreline with a square halt. Just focus on those goals, big or small it doesn’t matter. In the end all that matter is that you are having a good time and growing together with your best 4 legged friend.
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?There are so many cool horses on the moment performing at the highest level but then I will go for world number one, Dalera
Who is your equestrian hero?The rider of Dalera: Jessica von Bredow-Werndl. I love it how she is riding and let everything looks so easy with a smile on her face!
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
- Jessica von Bredow-Werndl
- Edward gal
- Carl Hester
- Johnny Depp