The Happy Athlete Competition, a different way of riding a competition


More and more riders are getting unhappy while riding competitions here in Holland. The reasons are not the competitions and the way they are organized, it’s because these riders are developing different needs. You hear people say they loose the fun factor in the current system, because they experience more and more pressure and tension. Horses seem to loose pleasure in riding competitions too. Riders are a little afraid of the judges, but also for the consequences if they ride a bad test and get a penalty point. There are riders riding a Frysian horse or an Arabian horse, who get the feeling they are discriminated because they don’t have a warmblood. I am not saying that this is really happening, but I am only saying that this is going around with competition riders here in Holland.

Horse’s wellbeing

It became a very important subject: the wellbeing of the sporthorse. And I think that it has always been very important, but people outside of the equestrian world start making a big issue of it. For us equestrian people these times are very interesting; many scientists are now researching sport horses and their wellbeing. We learn more and more about the horse’s psychology and learning system, and that gives us the opportunity to create better circumstances for our horses.

Politicians already say that using horses for sports is not okay, they would like to see the equestrian sport disappear. But we don’t let that happen, we will create new initiatives that show our passion and love for horses. We will prove them they are wrong!


It would be such a pity if we loose this group of riders, it would be a great loss if they stop riding competitions! That is why I started thinking of a new way of riding competitions, the Happy Athlete Competition. Together with a sports veterinarian, a collegue trainer, a physiotherapist for rider and horse and a well-known blogger we presented our idea in June during the ‘’Horse Experience ‘’ in Heerjansdam. After this presentation we put an survey on our Facebook page and hundreds of people filled it in. We worked the outcome in our formula and that finalized our concept. This competition is created together with the target group, that is why it has already become a big success!

Problems like too much tension, spooky horses or horses that don’t even want to go anymore in the competition arena can be solved in this competition. And that means that riders ad horses can become successful again in the regular competitions. You can solve these issues in a relaxed atmosphere with the full attention for the horse.

How does it work?

In August we organized a pilot Happy Athlete Competition to proof our concept. And it did! You ride a test with 10 mandatory exercises. All these exercises are performed in the competition position. Between these exercises you can do what you want, ride the way you want. Everything is possible, you can walk with long rein, ride the horse over its back round and low, canter forward or halt and make him give. The only thing that is prohibited is the roll kur. You have a maximum of 8,5 minutes to show all the exercises. If you want to reward your horse, please do so. All the good things are allowed, but bad things aren’t. We want to see two happy athletes!

After the test you go directly to the judges for feedback, tips and homework. We always have two judges available for you. The protocol is divided in three parts: the ten obligatory exercises, the condition, correct muscles, the balance and happy athlete expression of the horse, and the third part is the balance, core stability, the given aids and happy athlete expression of the rider.

Personal results

We don’t have a ranking after the competition, it’s all about your personal achievement. You don’t compete against other competitors, you only try to improve your own skills during the Happy Athlete Competition. We have three certificates that you can get: Bronze at 61%, silver at 64% and gold at 67%.

Organizing a Happy Athlete Competition

Do you want to organize a Happy Athlete Competition at your location? We require both a 20-60 meter and 20-40 meter arena. We also give presentations and clinics based on the latest scientific researches. Our aim is to share our knowledge as much as possible, all over the world.

Email or contact me: +31-655707570