In the KWPN studio Marlies van Baalen and Alex van Solfhout looked back at the recent Olympic Games. Despite the special circumstances in Tokyo, they look back with satisfaction. “We had a young team of horses; they did what we could have expected them to do.”

Alex: “The road to Tokyo was a rather bumpy one. It started with Desperado and later with the problems regarding Hermès. Because of the corona it was a puzzle to get the necesseray international scores to even qualify. We left home with a very young team, except for Dream Boy, all horses were in their first Grand Prix season. That means it all comes down to the form of the moment. Does it all come together, are you in a good flow? You are completely dependent of it all in your performance. Not to mention that other countries had made serious progression too.”


Alex had made an assessment of the focal points in Tokyo. “To start, the young stallions were on a plane for the first time. In general, this forms no problems, but it is always a tense moment. And then we had to cope with the climate. It can get very hot in Tokyo, but in hindsight it was not too bad. We have performed adequately, and we could not have expected more. Total US showed some decent test, there is potential for so much more. For Go Legend it was a shame he could keep up the form he had in the run up. However, we cannot be unsatisfied, this was the spot we were at. If we continue down this path the coming time, we hope to compete for the medals again in Herning.”

Extraordinary horses

For Marlies van Baalen this were her second Olympic Games. “My first were aboard the KWPN stallion Idocus, now I partnered up with Go Legend DVB, bred by parents-in-law. Both extraordinary horses. The Games were completely different from the previous one. We were in this bubble due to corona. And there were no family members, that’s truly different experience. The horses were provided with fantastic facilities, nice, cool stables, and perfect footing in the arenas. Nothing wrong there. For me, the selections were slightly different because my father fell seriously ill and passed away during those times. But the team and Alex gave me a lot of support.”

Extra special 

In the meanwhile, Alex and Marlies are already working towards the coming outdoor season. Marlies: “We have got this entire path mapped out. We don’t want to overdo it, but we do want to get in the rhythm. I hope for a team spot in Herning. And we also look forward much further, to Paris for example. Besides Go Legend, I have a great homebred eight-year-old mare by Dempsey x Jazz x Ferro of which I have sky-high expectations. Breeding is an important part of our company. Especially since my brother and sister-in-law have started their own rearing stable, we get to follow each step of our homebred horses. This makes it extra special. Because you know the entire history, you can make steps with that horse much more quickly.”

Abundant quality

Alex thinks we are doing well in Dutch breeding. “We have so many quality horses in our country. Rideability is top priority for me. Of course, I horse must be built well, possess good gaits and talent and most of the times, the rideability is good too. The walk has improved over the past few years, that is clear. A good horse must have lots of reflexes, natural go, willing and accepting of the work. Those are the horses we prefer to work with.”

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Photo: Dirk Caremans

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The KWPN (Studbook of the Royal Dutch Sport Horse) is a Netherlands-based organization specializing in the breeding of jumpers, dressage horses, harness horses, and Gelder horses.

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