Who's Who

van Baalen, Coby

Discipline : Dressage

Born : 1957


Coby Dorresteijn is a farmer’s daughter, and seemingly had drive and ambition from the very beginning. Claatje van Andel, who helped Coby and Jo Hinnemann prepare their book, The Simplicity of Dressage, records that at the age of seven, Coby taught the neighbouring children gymnastics. She ‘wrote motivational texts in a notebook, suggesting that the children had done their best, but they needed to keep practicing.’

Claatje tells the story well:

‘Coby had to fight for her first horse. There were years on the farm when money was earned from their cows and the fruit they grew. A favorite saying of Coby’s father, Jan Dorresteijn, was, ‘if you want to eat dry bread, then you should have horses.’ However Coby persisted. Around 1970, Coby’s father changed his view as the jousehold finances had improved somewhat.’

‘Years later, after Coby married Arie van Baalen, a farmer’s son, the couple decided to start their own two-pronged business in Bakel, Belgium: a dairy cattle farm and a dressage barn.”

“Coby found an enthusiastic supporter for her equestrian ambitions in her father-in-law, Arie van Baalen, Senior. Those ambitions would cost money, but one always has to spend money to make money. At that time, Coby turned down a high offer to purchase the up-and-coming horse, Natrial, as she was hoping for an international dressage career with him. The dream did not come true with Natrial: he became ill. The dream was still not realized with the next talented horse, Biraldo. His owners sold him to another rider to compete in the Olympics. The third try was a charm, however. Coby fulfilled all her ambitions with her third horse, the black KWPN stallion, Olympic Ferro, owned by Jan Lamers and Adriaan van der Goor. Coby first saw the stallion when he was eight years old at her barn’s breeding station and became immediately captivated by him She did not rest until she, together with Johann Hinnemann, had reached the highest level with the stallion. The 1998 World Cup in Rome was their first big appearance, where they won the team silver medal, and sixth place individually. Many successes followed, including placing second during the Dressage World Cup Finals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in Spring, 2000. At the Olympic Games in Sydney, they earned the team silver medal and placed fifth individually.”

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