European Young Rider Medalist Danielle Houtvast Competes New Mount Palermo in Florida

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Danielle Houtvast riding Palermo H in the new Intermediate B at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Danielle Houtvast riding Palermo H in the new Intermediate B at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan.18, 2014–European Championships junior and young rider medalist Danielle Houtvast of the Netherlands is competing a new mount,  Palermo H, at the Global Dressage Festival to move into the growing and highly competitive Under-25 division.

Just a month since acquiring the 17-year-old KWPN gelding, Danielle is in Florida in her first time in the United States with her trainer and already has competed at national level Prix St. Georges and became one of the first in the world to ride the Int. B test that was introduced this year.

The 21-year-old Danielle rides for Leida Collins-Strijik who is in Wellington based at the stables of her husband’s family just a few minutes from the sprawling Palm Beach International Equestrian that is the winter showcase of dressage, jumping and American hunters.

“I really like it,” Danielle said. “The weather is nice. Even when it’s cold you have sun. Everything is so close. It’s really cool and the people are really nice.”

And she loves that when she drives in Wellington she sees miles of bridal paths alongside the roads with horses hacking out.

Danielle started riding as a youngster, and tried jumping like her parents but gave it up for dressage because she was scared of high jumps.

She has made her mark in dressage.

In 2008, she rode Domino on the Dutch team to win the silver medal at the European pony championships.

Then in 2009 , she began riding Rambo, a 1998 KWPN gelding (Gribaldi x Amor) at junior level and moved to Leida’s facility for training.

The pair picked up medals at the 2011 and 2012 Europeans but missed out in 2013 because Rambo was injured.

Now, Danielle is moving to the next level, the Under-25 between young riders and Grand Prix. Rambo was a horse she had to push but Palermo H was trained to Grand Prix by Dreas Roefs and competed by his wife last year.

“He’s a nice horse for me because he does the whole Grand Prix,” Danielle told dressage-news.com. “He really wants to work for you, totally different than Rambo. I had to push Rambo. This one I have to hold back.

“I know he’s 17 but he feels like eight. This is a good experience for me to show him. It’s nice to ride him at shows for the first time, moving to the higher level. It is also new for me.”

Danielle admits that it’s “a big step” from the Inter. B to the Grand Prix, but she is not rushing. She will be in Florida until mid-March and will work to develop herself and Palermo in hopes of being considered for an Under-25 team that Dutch team coach Wim Ernes wants to put together.

Danielle is excited about the prospect of U-25 team competition that could include top tier shows such as the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany as well as the Rotterdam CHIO.

And she has another horse, Kennedy, in the wings that she believes needs time but has the quality to perform at Grand Prix.

“I really want to be a professional,” Danielle said, explaining that she lives at Leida’s training facility while working fulltime and gives riding lessons at night. She gets support from her parents.

“I want to train horses and to ride Grand Prix. First, I have to learn…”