There was an emotional moment for Dutch rider, Hans Peter Minderhoud, on the final afternoon of the FEI European Dressage Championships 2011 in Rotterdam (NED) last Sunday when the great mare, Exquis Nadine, was officially retired.
"I want everyone to remember a special horse, not one that goes on and on until she has nothing left" Hans Peter continued. "She will slow down over the winter months and we will put her in foal in the spring - I know this is the right thing to do, because I've noticed over the last year or so that when I'm riding her past the fields it's hard to get her to concentrate because she's looking at the foals, I think she would love to have one, and it's time for her to have another life. She has been doing Grand Prix for five years now". The 16 year old Dutch warmblood, by Partout x Roemer, was bred by G.C Vervoorn at Brakel in The Netherlands and descends from a very distinguished dam bloodline. During her highly successful career, she won team gold at the FEI European Championships 2007 in Turin (ITA) and team silver at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong. She was reserve for the 2009 European Championships and won team gold at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, USA last year.
Last week Exquis Nadine was part of the bronze-medal-winning Dutch side in Rotterdam, and on Sunday the chestnut mare said goodbye with a lovely performance that earned eleventh place in the hotly-contested Freestyle to Music finale. Tears trickled down Hans Peter's face as he rode her past the grandstand and acknowledged the crowd's applause on behalf of his great chestnut mare.
"After the ride I felt quite bad" he said, "she gave everything in the Freestyle, but there was no better moment for her to retire."
Hans Peter pointed out that the decision to retire Exquis Nadine was only finalised last Sunday, and it wasn't an easy one to make. But, along with the mare's owners, he had been thinking about it for a while. "She's done such a lot" he pointed out, "she needed an extra page in her passport because she had travelled so much around the world!"
He must now depend on some new rides to ensure he maintains his own profile. "It's time for Tango to step up a bit now and I have two really nice nine year olds coming along" he said. But filling the gap left by Nadine's retirement will not be easy - "it is like it is!" Hans Peter said with a tinge of sadness in his voice on Sunday night. He added that he will miss her greatly as a competition companion, but that she will remain on his farm, "so we will still see each other every day!" he said.