Henk Rottinghuis
Henk Rottinghuis

Henk Rottinghuis, a successful businessman and Dutch equestrian administrator, has launched his campaign to become the next president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) with a 100-day “listening program.”

The 54-year-old announced the start of his campaign among the 133 national federations and stakeholders that are active in the FEI and will elect the next president for a four-year term at the General Assembly in Taipei in November. He will present his program before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games that starts in Kentucky in November.

Rottinghuis is seeking to unseat Princess Haya who has served one term as president and to beat her top lieutenant, Sven Holmberg of Sweden, who is also running for the top job of the body that governs international dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining and vaulting.

An amateur competitor, international organizer, official and member of the FEI’s Compliance and Audit committee, Rottinghuis recently retired from CEO and Chairman of one of the world’s biggest family-run businesses. Dutch-based Pon Holdings, an international distribution and trading company with 12,000 employees.

Now, the multi-lingual Rottinghuis who was competitor in national dressage from 1970 to 1981, says he wants to devote more time to the administration of the sport to which he has been committed for the past 30 years. He led the effort to amalgamate a patchwork of Dutch equestrian organizations into a single national federation.

“The President is the figurehead of the FEI but the national federations are the FEI,” he said. “It is only with them and other stakeholders including riders, owners, organizers, officials and sponsors, that the success of the FEI can be guaranteed. My campaign for the Presidency, and if elected the Presidency itself, will reflect and never forget that fundamental belief.

“Therefore, ahead of presenting a full manifesto to the federations before this year’s World Equestrian Games, I will communicate personally with National Federations and all stakeholders who rely on the FEI. Only when I have listened to them would it be appropriate to outline a program with clear deliverables.”

He said the FEI needs a “stable administration and a structure in which initiatives and proposals come about in a democratic and transparent way.”

“It is essential to include everyone who will be affected by decisions and those who have to get involved in carrying out those decisions to warrant success,” he said. “I feel many are seeking quiet leadership and more partnership between the executive and the field. If that is the case, my profile will suit the position.

“Our sport needs to be enjoyed by many more, should be inclusive for all, and remain relevant in a modern world in which the balance of power is shifting to new continents.”

For the period of the election, he has resigned as a member of the FEI Audit and Compliance Committee to avoid possible conflict of interest.