This week I’m chatting with one of the most successful dressage horse breeders in the world, Willeke Bos. Based in The Netherlands, Willeke has retired from competing and is now a highly respected dressage horse breeder having produced horses which have competed at Grand Prix in the Olympics, as well as breeding highly sought after approved stallions as well as national champions. Read on to learn more about Willeke, her ambitions, and top tips for success
Tell us about you and your horses
My name is Willeke Bos, I live in the Netherlands, I start breeding when I was pregnant myself and couldn’t ride my mare anymore. At that time, I was breeding with my mare who had a show jumping pedigree, but I just rode her just in the dressage arena. Nowadays I have mares with top dressage pedigrees and breed more consequent. A few of my horses that I have bred you maybe know, All at Once (Olympics Tokyo), the approved stallions Jameson, Obsession Taonga, One Two Three and Opoque but also the national champion mare Jatilinda.
I have all kind of horses nowadays, from foal to a proven stallion but also mares and a lot of sport horses.
How did your horses come into your life and how did you start riding?
As a young girl my mam started riding and so did I. So, horses are a sort of in my life forever, however I stopped a couple of years because of some bad luck with horses in that time and I had to say goodbye to two in a short time. I was so sad that I stopped for a couple of years but I missed it terribly.
When and where do you ride?
Nowadays I don’t ride that often anymore, mainly because I am too busy at the moment and I have an eighteen-year-old daughter who is fanatically competing internationally, that cost a lot of time and dedication.
What you and your horses currently working on?
The youngsters are starting their real life, so a bit of lunging etc. The older ones, it depends on the level that they are.
What do you love about riding?
The feeling of freedom, the energy between horse and rider, it clears my head because you have to listen and feel your horse instead of doing something else at the same time.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I hope I have a little bit more time and have a couple of horses that I can enjoy more often the precious moments I have with my horses.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
Yes of course. For example, for a show, riding on a new spot with a young horse or something that I’m not so secure about.
How do you deal with them?
Absolutely not daily but sometimes more than the other.
Do you have any rituals before competing?
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
To take Vitalis as a 2yo stallion to Germany! I think otherwise he would have been castrated.
Your Top Tip
Always try to “read” your horse and follow your feelings in that.
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Who is your equestrian hero?
My own daughter
If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?
Favourite colour horse?
Don’t have one, don’t like grey ones or multi-coloured horses.
Favourite horse event?
Olympics with my own horse!
Favourite way to relax?
Don’t have one.
If you enjoyed meeting Willeke, you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here You can keep up with Willeke’s progress and check out his instagram page here