The European Sport Horse Auction is going to do things a little differently this year. On 17, 18 and 19 September, young horses, competition horses and foals will be auctioned by auctioneers Koen Olaerts and Marthijs Brouwer at De Molenheide in Schijndel. "And," says Kees van den Oetelaar on behalf of the organisation, "we are going to tell potential buyers more about the horses than anyone has ever done. Because, with the exception of the foals, we know everything about these horses because we bought almost all of them as foals.” The auction will remain open to the public free of charge.
European Sport Horse Auction had some earlier successful editions, first at the Panhof in Belgium, then for two years at the Molenheide equestrian centre in Schijndel. Brothers Dennis and Jurgen Swennen were the initiators, and now their organisation has been expanded with riding school owner Joris van den Oetelaar, Marc Mertens and Nick and Lotte van den Oetelaar. Kees van den Oetelaar kept an eye on things for a couple of years: "The auction improved year by year, and I had previously promised to put in a few horses. This spring I thought it was time and I told Marc, Lotte and Nick: we all trust Dennis and Jurgen, so you can auction these sixty horses if you want. Fifty-five of these I bought myself when they were foals.”
On the first day, 17 September, the auctioneer auctions the young horses; the competition horses will be sold on 18 September: “We currently have a group of thirty two and three-year-olds, all with recent X-rays and clinically approved by veterinarian Maarten Aarts at the Sint-Oedenrode Veterinary Practice. There are at least six or seven that are good enough to pass any inspection as approved stallions, for any studbook. We also offer thirty ridden horses. These are almost all horses that know too little for their age. People who know me, know that I am always late breaking in my horses. We don't want to use up all they have in the young horses competitions. But mind you: there are also some six-year-olds that compete on an international level.”
“No secrets, about anything,” promises Kees van den Oetelaar. “A QR code will be added to the catalogue, taking people directly to the right page of the website with the complete information about the horse: telling them what the advantages and disadvantages are, what the shortcomings may be, what I think of the horse. And I won't hesitate to give recommendations: buy this one, don't buy that one. Let buyers call me, I know all the horses, I watched them grow up. You cannot hide anything anymore. In fact: we will be telling people more about these horses than anyone has ever done before in an auction.”
Dennis Swennen and his brother Jurgen are the founders and organisers, and they will also be there for the third day, 19 September, when the foals are auctioned: “Top quality and no-nonsense, let's call it that. We think it is important to help breeders sell their foals, without ridiculous prices. You know, a €3000 foal can also become a top show jumper. That is why we make it easy for breeders to enter the auction: they only pay the €250 entry fee, without any additional costs. We've selected a nice group of foals, for dressage and show jumping, although there's always room for more dressage pedigrees. Breeders can still register their foals at www.esha.horse.”
From Monday 10 September, the ridden horses can be tried by appointment (via +31 630 050 211) at Marc Mertens. On the auction days, the presentations take place in the afternoon, and the stables are open for viewing. The organisation (a team of approximately thirty people) includes no less than nine experienced riders who train the horses, including Arnold Boerekamps, Wim Wernaart and top Italian riders Giovanni Consorti and Giampiero Garofalo. Another important element is the cooperation with the Italian Equita Team, led by Ugo Pisani, Emanuele Gaudiano's sponsor, who has been a close business contact of Kees van den Oetelaar since the 70s: “His riders ride our stallions, and are now also riding the auction horses. And of course, the DSC Group with Arjan Bekkers also plays a major role when it comes to the organisation and managing the quality of the foal auction."