Ton de Ridder Quits Aussie Team

Photo: Kenneth Braddick, dressage news

Dateline: Aachen July 16

Chris Hector interviews Ton de Ridder

You have decided to call it quits, your role as advisor and coach to the Australian dressage team?

“I will stop this, yes.”

An interesting experience?

“A long experience, I think quite successful. We have had some good teams, sometimes we have had little problems. We have to deal every time with different characters, but I liked to do it, and with a lot of them, I have a very good connection still – I try to be helpful if they are looking for a stable, or if they have some questions in the training. Or when they have problems at the competitions, I try to help a little bit, but I want to concentrate more on the European riders here, and on my own daughters.”

“And to be honest, we should not lie and say everything is beautiful – what I have been missing in the last few years is that we have worked really well together, but what I am saying now is my own opinion, Julia Battams and some of the people from the office, they did a really good job, the riders can have a different opinion, I don’t care, it is my opinion, but things changed too little. For example, you would talk about some problems, and they say, ya ya we will change this next year, and that happened too little.”

It became frustrating the same shit happens time after time?

“A little bit of frustration. I think the clinics we did in Australia were very successful, we saw some very good young riders, but still the sport is in Europe. We see it with the Americans, they are here again – there are no World Championships, they are not involved in the European Championships but still they come with a big team to Aachen and Rotterdam – and they bring some young people, some less experienced and they really work hard.”

“I don’t want to say that the Australian people are not hard workers. They are really hard workers and most of them are riding months and months alone, just looking at the mirror, and still they are quite successful… but I think about the riders here: Isabell had Dr Schulten-Baumer on the ground, Nadine (Cappelmann) had Klaus Balkenhol, my wife had me on the ground and in our business we were very involved with Jo Hinnemann, and I am still very grateful for what he did for us. There are more examples, Nicole Uphoff with Dr Schulten-Baumer and Harry Boldt, they are not working alone like the Australian riders.”

“There are also the selection policies. I look at the results from Brisbane CDI, with the winner on 70% – I don’t think he will score 70% over here in Europe.”

So what do we have to do to get better at the Olympic Games – in Hong Kong, two riders made it to the Special, but that was the last time an Australian made it to the second round…

“Okay, the whole sport developed a lot, you see it in the percentages, the horses are getting better, the breeding is getting better. Also in Germany you have a lot of trainers using new techniques, we are riding a lot now with video – there are many horses with a lot of expression. If you look at the Grand Prix at Atlanta, the half passes that I saw there, we don’t see any more now, they would not get the marks. It’s like motor sport, or soccer, everything is developing.”

“Things change. We see now, England had a very strong team, with Carl and Charlotte, and now they are a little quiet. Charlotte is really working hard at the moment to make her own new horse, and she has very good results in the St Georges, so we should not talk too much about the past, and look forward. Look at Denmark, they are coming again, new horses, young riders.”

“For me, there are some good young riders, and under 25 riders, in Australia but they are doing their own business and they are looking too much at earning money and thinking too less about developing their own riding and getting experience – coming over here, working a little bit. They are still young and they have stopped learning.”

“I am going with my daughters to the training of Wolfram Wittig, I sent my daughters to Isabell (Werth), to clinics for the Under 25 with Monica (Theodorescu). And when I go there, I am sitting, I am listening and I am hearing new ideas. We have an open discussion with those trainers, and my friends who help my kids, you have to keep learning.”

13 thoughts on “Ton de Ridder Quits Aussie Team

  1. That was interesting and begged the question how much is a lack of big money sponsorship a factor? When the upper level riders in my cohort here in the US talk about making a bid to go international, aim for PanAm Games, etc. the conversation always seems to come down to money. Only a very few can self finance, the rest seem to rise and fall based upon their ability to secure a sponsor. I can think of one or two incredible trainers here who could have gone international but were forced to develop their training businesses simply to pay the bills. It’s a quandary.

  2. Interesting to note though that it was the German, Portuguese and the US judges that marked the winner of Brisbane CDI over 70% and the Aussie judges that marked him below 70%.

  3. Th This announcement does not come as a surprise to me. Ton de Ridder would not want to be caught up working with a country that has condoned the use of drugs at a qualifying event and point blank refused to come out and put member confidence back onto a good footing. I understand that the Australian Team Coach, Ton de Ridder, knew nothing of what was going on at Rotterdam and even had his staff blamed for contaminating feed. I can imagine he was less than pleased about being kept in the dark and having his name associated with such shameful behaviour. There is no money to develop equestrian sport and no funding for our riders and until we address things such as EA sending 70 non-riding personnel to Rio (some, of course, were quite valid) and get back to making the sport the priority and stop feeding the always hungry administration expenses, were are never going to get ahead. I wonder what the end of 2017 EA financial will reveal, “watch THAT space!”

  4. An interesting call about the GP winner at the Brisbane CDI recently. Was Ton there watching? Is he saying the horse was over scored by the international judges?
    It would seem that the scoring in Australia does seem to be a little generous when we look at the results our horses then receive when they head overseas. It is exactly the same with the YH scoring when you compare the scores received here to the quality of a horses who are scoring the same marks at the Worlds – they should be marked the same way which would mean there should be more 5’s or less handed out when a horse can’t walk with an overtrack or shows a very plain trot with no lengthening of stride. At the recent Brisbane CDI only 1 horse received a single score less than 6.

    I know many would say this is stupid but I think the Australian qualifying score required to compete overseas should be raised. Perhaps that might mean we don’t send a team – perhaps only the odd individual to the Olympics or WEG until we have a team that can be a little competitive? Put that money into improving the sport here first. Raise funds for the young riders here. Improve our home grounds and regularly bring trainers to Australia. Or better still, use the funds to send our good young riders for training in Europe for short periods.
    We have an issue with distance but we can’t change that. We need to work around it.
    It is disappointing that Ton has moved on but it is not surprising.

  5. This is a huge blow for Australian Dressage. We are now without a single person that can lead our sport. Who do we call? .. who advises us… who makes a plan ? …. I am devastated!!!

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  8. The loss of Ton De Ridder cannot be underestimated and is a significant blow to Australian dressage. Ton is incredibly well respected by all in the sport in Europe, including the FEI five star judges.
    However, it is good to see that he says he will still make himself available to help Aussie riders over there. I hope many of our riders continue to take advantage of his generosity.

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  10. I too believe this is a great loss and that Ton made an incredible contribution. His loss will be sorely felt. However, I have to comment re the comments on always hungry administration expenses and 70 non riding personnel to Rio? I worked for EA during this period and it wasn’t even a quarter of this. And the remaining staff worked, as they often do, many, many unpaid hours on Olympic and non Olympic business. It’s easy to attack EA but remember, you are attacking hard working individuals who do massive hours because they love the sport. As a reward they can look forward to EA bashing online. And it isn’t so easy to say let’s not go to the Olympics and use the money elsewhere. Our funding depends on meeting the goals set by the Australian Sports Commission and following their pathways. It’s not as simple as keyboard warriors think.

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