As a professional show jumper for over twenty years, it’s safe to say that Jeroen Dubbeldam knows how to stay level-headed when dealing with the ups and downs that come with the horse business. With a career that spans over 1,500 competitions (according to FEI records), Dubbeldam’s experience and expertise are sensed immediately when he speaks about his past mounts who have shaped his career into what it is today.
At the age of 27, Dubbeldam proved he was a force to be reckoned with, winning Olympic gold in Sydney aboard his legendary mount, De Sjiem. Following his illustrious partnership aboard De Sjiem, which also includes a win at the 2001 Grand Prix of Aachen, Dubbeldam’s career quieted down. Little did we know that he was quietly building a string that would impress the world for years to come.
Dubbeldam winning Individual and Team gold at the 2015 Aachen European Show Jumping Championships. Photo: Erin Gilmore
Fast forward nine years and Dubbeldam was back in the limelight, topping podiums in some of the most notable classes across the world. Enter, Simon - from first glance, the bay KWPN gelding (Mr. Blue x Polydox), isn’t one to stand out in the pack. Despite his talent for jumping clear tracks, Dubbeldam is the first to admit that Simon could be a difficult horse to deal with. Bought as a 9-year-old, Dubbeldam brought Simon from showing at the 1.30m level to the being the number one ranked horse in the world in 2011. Adding to his list of accolades, Simon and Dubbeldam recorded multiple big wins including the CN International Grand Prix in 2010, and a third-place finish at the 2011 World Cup Final.
But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, a partnership that was on top of the world, came to an end. Fortunately, it wasn’t the end of Simon’s remarkable success, as it was Beezie Madden who took over the reins.
“I knew that [Simon’s owner] wanted to sell him before the Olympics, I felt that,” recalls Dubbeldam. “[Simon] was already getting a bit older, and after the Olympics, he might’ve been too old to sell and he was worth more money before London. I knew that they were planning to sell him. It was that moment when I started talking with John and Beezie, because for me if this horse was going to be sold and it comes from my stable, I want the horse to be in very good hands.”
Jeroen Dubbeldam and SFN Zenith. Photo: Thomas Reiner
“Simon was a very good horse but also a very difficult horse. I told John and Beezie that—he’s extremely good but very difficult. If he went to a different place or an amateur, I never would've seen him again and I couldn’t live with that. We always have had a close contact with [the Maddens],” explains Dubbeldam. Following Beezie’s World Cup Final win on Simon in 2013, he remarked, “Beezie is one of the greatest riders in the world, ever.”
Fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, as the horse carousel turns, some riders are left with empty stalls, while others are given the opportunity to shine. The loss of Simon was not dwelled up too long, as a new prospect soon entered Dubbeldam’s stable—Breitling LS.
Dubbeldam acquired the bay KWPN approved stallion (Quintero x Acord II) as a 2-year-old from La Silla stud, based in Mexico. From the moment the Dutchman laid eyes upon the young horse, it was love at first sight. From his movements under saddle to his expressive and impressive jumping style, Dubbeldam knew that he had a future star on his hands. As a 4- and 5-year old stallion, Breitling recorded wins across Holland, producing round after round of clear efforts. Although taking his time with the young stallion, Dubbeldam had big plans for their future. When big plans are made, often, those plans are broken. Having no intention of selling Breitling, Dubbeldam received an offer that he could not refuse. With a sense of deja vu, Breitling was sold to Beezie Madden—her second horse from Dubbeldam.
"I never would've seen him again and I couldn’t live with that"
“I’ve always had good contact with John and Beezie Madden [since I was young]. If there’s one [place] to sell a horse to, it’s Beezie,” says Dubbeldam. “[There’s] a good chance that you’ll see the horse [again] in the future, which was very important to me—[I’m happy] to see this horse go to [someone] like Beezie. For me, it was very important that if I sold Breitling, I would sell him to a place like [her’s]—the management, John [and Beezie], and the quality that they have.”
Dubbeldam wasn’t wrong about the potential he saw in Breitling as a youngster. Unlike Simon, Breitling had yet to reach the top level of the sport. Now as a 12-year-old, Breitling has found his way on to the first string of an impressive array of horses that Beezie maintains. Taking her time to develop the stallion, Beezie and Brelitling have produced top results across the world, including their most memorable performance--winning the 2018 FEI World Cup Finals in Paris.
Beezie Madden and Breitling LS at World Cup Finals 2018. Photo: Thomas Reiner
It’s no coincidence that both of Beezie’s World Cup Finals wins were aboard horses from Dubbeldam’s stable. When asked how Dubbeldam feels about Beezie’s second time winning the World Cup Finals aboard horses that he’s had a major role in developing, the answer is simple—proud.
“It makes me proud. I’m a rider, but you cannot ride forever. If my future in this world is training and dealing, of course not yet--I still have some years left riding--but for me, it’s a fantastic picture,” says Dubbeldam. "One of the greatest riders in the world wins two World Cup Finals on your horses, how [can you not be proud]?”
Today, the Olympic Gold medalist, World Equestrian Games Champion, and Europeans Champion shows no signs of slowing down. The secret behind a career that most show jumpers can only dream of? His ability to see the potential in a horse-and-rider combination.
"One of the greatest riders in the world wins two World Cup Finals on your horses, how can you not be proud?”
“It was fantastic that Breitling [and Simon] won [with Beezie]—you can always talk about how great the horse is, but [they were] also fantastically ridden, we must not forget,” explains Dubbeldam. “The horses went to the right place. As you can understand, I’m very happy with the situation.”