No stallion inspection passes without Reinie Tewis. He turned his childhood dream of becoming a stallion holder, into his profession and is a master at discovering talent among young stallions. As a trainer, he has built up an impressive track record and has been behind top-level standouts such as Cosun, Heathrow, F-One USA, Tornesch, Vingino, and recently sold top talent Mattias. Optimizing a horse's performance remains Reinie's greatest driving force.

After being based in Westdorp for twenty years, Reinie, along with Sonja Vlaar and their daughters Lynn and Rose, settled in Zweeloo, also located in Drenthe, three years ago. On a slightly smaller scale than before but with undiminished enthusiasm, the stallion owner prepares the stallions for the stallion inspection every year. This year, this resulted in among other things the premium stallion Raven (s.Mattias) and four other selected stallions.

Preparing themselves
Although Reinie does not come from a 'horse family,' it quickly became clear to him what profession he wanted to pursue. "Breeding has always fascinated me, and I started following the inspections at a young age. I attended agricultural school, and when I was sixteen, I did an internship at Matty Marissink. That's how I ended up at the stallion inspection, where the stallion Wolfgang came into my path. That was the first stallion I could lease, so that's how it started," Reinie reflects. The later keur-declared stallion Cavalier, who performed at the highest level under the name San Patrignano Mister with Franke Sloothaak, was subsequently his first stallion. Even during that time, Reinie already prepared stallions for the inspection, and the enjoyment he derives from it has only increased.

Quality keeps improving
"At that time, I prepared one or two stallions every year and was already very happy if they made it to the second viewing. By now, the bar is set a bit higher because I have trained many good stallions, and the quality keeps improving," Reinie says. Only a few people will miss the enthusiasm with which Reinie presents his stallions. He beams from ear to ear when his stallions provide a remarkable performance. "Discovering talent is the most beautiful thing for me. And the connection with the breeders, with whom I often collaborate on the stallions. The stallion inspection is something I am busy with all year round. We start the actual training of the horses in mid-September, and then the winter months are always focused on the stallion inspections. If that then yields success, I can really enjoy it."

Five selected
Last season, Reinie prepared ten stallions for the inspection, nine of which were selected for the second round viewing. In 's-Hertogenbosch, five stallions were selected for the performance test, including the premium stallion Raven (Mattias out of Annelita C elite pref prest IBOP-spr PROK by Guidam), who comes from their own breeding. For other breeders, Reinie prepared the genetically very interesting Aganix du Seigneur son Aranix Rising Z (out of Lady D sport-spr by 't Roosakker by Echo van 't Spieveld) from Carin Schotanus and Hendrik Blink, and the Mumbai son Rich and Royal (out of Cantate 47 by Crunch) from breeder Roelof Bril. Reinie is co-owner of Vital van HD (by Kasanova de la Pomme out of Otina van HD sport-spr by El Torreo de Muze). "We co-own him with Henk van der Sluis. I got in touch with him because he wanted to buy a harness horse from me, but in the end, nothing came of it, but that's how this jumping stallion came into our path. I could get involved as a yearling. Sometimes you need some luck."

KWPN Select Sale
Vital van HD comes from a strong Belgian performance line and goes directly back to Pieter Devos' former top horse Candy. From his first crop, Mattias also sired Roven (out of Heathrow, breeder J. Braams-Hoving), who was subsequently sold at the KWPN Select Sale and prepared by Reinie. "We had two Mattias sons in the auction in 's-Hertogenbosch, including the auction topper Mad Max Z, who was not selected. I can't and don't want to keep all the stallions myself, so the auction is a good option. In principle, all our horses are for sale if the price is right. You have to be critical yourself; not every stallion is commercially viable for the auction, and the whim of the moment rules: if they jump well, you get money. And if the performance fails, you just have to wait a bit longer to sell."

International riders
In recent years, Reinie has already sold a couple of promising stallions in this way. "I find it very rewarding to watch Jumping Amsterdam on Sunday afternoons on TV and see riders pass by who bought horses from me at the KWPN Select Sale. And the best part is that those riders are very happy with them." Top rider Denis Lynch bought a stallion prepared and offered by Reinie in the auction for two consecutive years. In 2022, it was the Manchester van 't Paradijs son Outlaw, and last year the premium stallion Prophet (formerly Popino-Larus s.Gaspahr), both of which were approved by KWPN. Another good example is the stallion Power Man, a son of Jukebox, sold to Suus Kuyten, who is also making a name for himself as a KWPN-approved stallion. "We often maintain good contact with such riders when they are satisfied with the stallions that come from here. That's the best advertising. If everything goes well, I might come to the inspection next year with a stallion from Piet Raijmakers; it's nice when such people appreciate your good stallions."

Six stallions per year
The young stallions are in raising in Emden, Germany, six stallions per year. "We have them together with owners or alone. In principle, I prepare all those stallions for the inspection because they are already selected based on type, canter, and pedigree. If they are healthy and jump well enough, I'm happy to take them to the inspection. This year, before the inspection, we sold one of our stallions to Germany, the others were all presented."

Predictive value
Although Reinie finds the inspections even more beautiful than the sport, he knows exactly what makes a good jumper. An important part of the current stallion selection system is free jumping, which Reinie strongly promotes. "When I receive a horse from raising, the breeder or owner usually calls the next day to ask if I've already had it jump. The same applies to international riders, so they also attach great importance to it. They say that you can select closer to the breeding goal under saddle, but free jumping tells me a lot. In my experience, the horses that perform well in freedom almost without exception also do so under saddle. The other way around is a different story, but fortunately, there are many options to present a stallion under saddle to the stallion inspection committee. I also think it's a good thing that, as an owner, you have multiple ways and chances to present your stallion.

Retaining free jumping
A major advantage of the current system with free jumping is that it also makes it feasible for the ordinary breeder to get their own stallion to the inspection. A period of four months of training is affordable for most breeders. As soon as the saddle comes into play, the bills start coming in, and it's a very long road. There were about 260 stallions at the first inspection, who is going to ride and handle all these horses? You need at least five months for that if they can't do anything yet. I know a few people who first have a horse ridden for five months and then assess how their horse jumps. There is also a good chance that we will miss many stallions because people do not want to go through that longer process and those stallions then go abroad. So, I am definitely in favour of retaining free jumping."

Breeders and riders all know how to find Reinie when it comes to preparing for the inspection. "Because we have a stud station, we have contact with many breeders, and it's also a matter of goodwill. I can't afford those expensive auction foals, so we enter into collaborations with breeders or owners." A good example of this is the Comme Il Faut son Mattias, who made a big impression last winter with his first year of stallions at the inspection and was sold to top rider Jur Vrieling. "Mattias was already very special as a foal. I had given the breeder breeding advice about the stallion Comme Il Faut, and it resulted in a beautiful, large foal from a good line. I never expected to have the chance from his breeder to buy Mattias together with Jan van Kooten because the auction committees were also chasing Mattias. Fortunately, I have that goodwill. When Mattias was two years old, we let him jump for the first time, and it was so special that I didn't put him back in the group. He did come into the pasture at our home every day, and at the end of the summer, we started training. It was immediately clear that he was a special horse," Reinie says.

Athletic grey
As a three-year-old, the athletic grey was registered with 83 points at the KWPN and was mostly trained by Sonja. "I find the stallion inspections very beautiful, and Sonja likes to ride, which is a good combination. But we consciously focus only on the first years of training. I also noticed that I have less connection with a horse once it is in training elsewhere. That is different from when you are busy with it yourself every day. When they are about six years old, it is time to sell them. That's how it went with Mattias last year too. Jur Vrieling had seriously asked about him when he was four, but at that time, we didn't plan to sell him. At the beginning of last year, he jumped very well for three days in a row in Zuidwolde, and then more and more people started asking about him. Because I had promised Jur that I would let him know when we wanted to sell, I gave him the first chance to try Mattias. It immediately clicked well, but it took some time before he went to Jur. Of course, I think it's great that Mattias is now going to get all the opportunities he deserves, but deep down, I would have preferred to keep him myself. I don't like losing him, but you have to be realistic: keeping him is not an option for us."

Long-term vision
For the breeders who have had confidence in Mattias from the beginning and have used him for breeding, such a sale to a top rider is an ideal scenario. "As a stallion holder, I also think you have a certain obligation to the breeders. It is also in the interest of the breeders who have used your young stallion that he ends up in the right place so that he can further develop as a sport horse. Mattias has always been a very special horse, and Sonja has spent a lot of time with him. I hope he will do very well in the sport, and I'm glad we still have offspring from him." There are currently two stallions left at the stud farm in Zweeloo, the full brothers Next In Line and Outsider DK (s. Jukebox), both from the breeding of Arjan Roosjen. Next In Line won the De Wolden competition for five-year-olds last year and then had a rest, so he didn't start in the KWPN Championship for Young Show Jumping Horses.

"That didn't quite fit into our schedule; we like to take our time with young horses and we can't handle well with the pressure that, for example, a stallion competition brings. Next In Line only participated in one competition last winter; it all came a bit too early. For us, it would be better if the competition were spread over more different competitions, and the final result is determined by the average of, say, five competitions. That way, you have more time to take a break in between or skip a competition when it doesn't fit into the schedule. Now, the stallion competition consists of three competitions, and they have to ride all three; otherwise, you're not allowed to go to Den Bosch. And with the four-year-olds, the pressure to ride clear rounds is now very high; I would have liked to see that differently."

Different blood
The sire of Next In Line and Outsider DK, the stallion Jukebox (s.Padock du Plessis), was co-owned by Reinie with Jan van Kooten and Jos Lansink, for whom he also prepared several stallions for the inspection. This internationally 1.45m-classified stallion has been with Monique van den Broek since November. "It's nice that such a stallion has immediately covered a few good mares here in the region, such as the mother of Next In Line and Outsider, and that his offspring are developing positively in the sport. I don't want all breeders to breed with my young stallions; on the contrary, it's also very interesting if the good mares are bred with different blood. That's why I always try to have interesting stallions from other stallion owners available, such as Ermitage Kalone last year, for example. It will be nice if I can present the sons of such a stallion at the inspection later on because I am always looking for different blood. This year, I had three Mattiases, but I think it's also good to offer 'new' blood. The most important thing is that as a stallion holder, you have a lot of faith in your stallion, and if a stallion lives up to your expectations, you will also get breeders to use him."

Smaller scale
Reinie trains the stallions together with Sonja and employee Maron Mensinga. "Maron works three days a week with us and also helps prepare the young horses. Sonja rides the two stallions, does the administration, and helps with all other activities in the stable. We have been in Zweeloo for the third year now and take the time to make everything on and around our farm to our liking." Reinie does free jumping in an oval arena. "We deliberately chose this because young horses always stop in the corner. Now they stay in rhythm, and as soon as they know the way a bit, I can manage them on my own. In the future, I want to change the covering stable; the phantom is still on the old part, but we want to move it to another location. And we want to cover the horse walker." In the summer season, Reinie is not only busy with insemination but also prepares some mares for breeders in Drenthe. Like Asca Z daughter Nirmosa MB from Henk Mulder and Trieneke Brink, who was declared national champion in Ermelo in 2021. "Preparing mares is a service to the breeders, but I also think it's important that clients' mares achieve predicates. That's also beneficial in the long term. For example, if sons of those mares come to the inspection again."

Small breeders
Reinie's regular clients include many small breeders. "I think that's great; you can discuss breeding with them and give advice. Most small breeders have earned their living outside of horses, and for them, it's a hobby: then it doesn't matter if it costs a few cents. They want to experience everything, and if they have their stallion prepared by me, and the quality is there, it also brings in some money. If they keep their breeding products longer, the involvement and breeding experience are also greater." In today's breeding, there is increasing attention to sport performances in the dam line, especially in stallion selection. "That's a good thing, but you always have to evaluate the horse itself. Just because the dam performed well doesn't mean the horse will too. And there are still many mares from small breeders who haven't had the chance to prove themselves in sport. They may have taken a few laps with the granddaughter, but they don't necessarily have to be bad broodmares. I've also had mares for inspection who have never worn a saddle but can jump very well. You can confidently use them for breeding."

More beautiful than all the achieved successes, Reinie finds the enthusiasm with which his four daughters Jessy, Amy, Lynn, and Rose are involved in equestrian sports and breeding. "Their enjoyment motivates me enormously. Lynn and Rose are already riding and involved in everything; it's great to share our passion. That passion has kept me going day in and day out for years."

Text: Jenneke Smit
Image: Jacob Melissen

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