Harrie Smolders & Emerald NOP at CSI2* Ghent. Ph ©Fotoroyal Horseman
What do you do if your stirrup snaps at the start of your jumpoff round? If you’re one of The Netherlands’ top riders, that’s easy: you keep going for the win.
Harrie Smolders was competing his Rio Olympics partner Emerald NOP at the stallion’s first grand prix of the season, a CSI2* at Flanders Horse Expo in Ghent, Belgium on Sunday, February 27, 2017. After a long and well deserved break following their busy 2016, Smolders entered Emerald, a 13-year-old BWP stallion (Diamant De Semilly x Carthago Z) owned by Eurohorse BVA, into the CSI2* grand prix as a bit of a warmup before their five star season begins.
He was in the jumpoff against seven other riders and had just landed from the first fence when the trouble began.
“It happened at the first fence, on the landing my stirrup snapped, and I just had to ride the rest without it,” Smolders explained. “He’s good to ride so it makes it easier, but then it was a bit harder to turn. I also didn’t know if I’d won because my round wasn’t so smooth as I’d planned, but ok, it was enough.”
Barring one unsteady moment in the rollback turn to the final fence, it’s hard to tell that Smolders is missing a stirrup at all unless you watch closely. Smolders and Emerald crossed the finish timers 37.07 seconds, ahead of Patrik Spits’ time of 37.86 seconds aboard Jacobien Dwerse Hagen. Wouter Devos and Emorio Van T Holeinde placed 3rd.
“I have to start him small because last week, at another two star, it was his first show back and he jumped way too high over the fences,” Smolders said. “I have to start him over some smaller jumps at first.”
Smolders will step Emerald up to the CSI5* at ‘s-Hertogenbosch on March 9th, and then begin the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour at Mexico and Miami.
Watch Smolders give a riding lesson in leg strength and position during his jumpoff round of the Grand Prix Stad Ghent CSI2*: