Interview with Dinja Van Liere: A Journey Through Dressage Triumphs

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In an exclusive interview with renowned dressage rider Dinja Van Liere, 6th of the FEI Dressage World ranking, we delve into the intriguing story of her equestrian journey, from an initial interest in jumping to becoming an international dressage sensation. Dinja Van Liere, who clinched two bronze medals at the World Championship 2022 in Herning and participated in the European Championship 2021 and Tokyo Olympics, shares insights into her career, setbacks, and the special horses that shaped her path.

Origins in Dressage: A Twist of Fate

“To be really honest, I really wanted to be a jumper, but I had a pony that didn’t want to jump really that good for me… So, that’s why people said to me like, ‘Yeah, first, you have to do a little bit of dressage before you start jumping.'”

Van Liere’s foray into dressage wasn’t the result of a deliberate choice. Initially aspiring to be a jumper, fate intervened when her pony showed reluctance to jump. Advised to gain control through dressage before returning to jumping, Van Liere found herself immersed in the intricate world of dressage. Her pony, unexpectedly adept at dressage, marked the beginning of a remarkable journey.

Pivotal Moment at Aachen

“That was definitely when Hermes and I won Aachen… I was happy with my test, but the audience went crazy, and then I realized and I thought like, ‘Oh my god, it was really good.'”

The interview highlights a pivotal moment in Van Liere’s career – her unexpected victory at Aachen with Hermes. In her first year of international riding, she entered Aachen with no expectations.

However, the enthusiastic response from the audience marked a turning point, propelling her into the international dressage scene.

Challenges with Hermes: A Stallion’s Tale

“Hermes wasn’t the easiest horse all his life… He’s very smart and very outgoing but also, when he does things three times in a row, he’s like, ‘Okay, been there, done that, I know how we do that, that’s easy.'”

Among the horses Van Liere has ridden, Hermes, a stallion with a charismatic personality, presented unique challenges. While sweet and sensitive, Hermes could easily grow bored and lose focus. Van Liere discusses the intricacies of keeping him engaged and maintaining focus during competitions.

Triumph in Herning

“There are a lot of people who have their opinions about it… it’s really difficult then that all the people have their opinion because they see a video from like one minute that he stops and he doesn’t want to go, and yeah, that’s very difficult.”

Addressing setbacks, Van Liere opens up about a challenging moment in Doha when Hermes refused to move forward during a freestyle event. Despite facing public opinions based on a brief video snippet, she emphasizes the importance of working through such moments. Notably, shortly after, Van Liere and Hermes secured a bronze medal in FEI World Championship Herning, showcasing their resilience.

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Blue Hors FEI Dressage World Championship 2022, Herning (DEN). Team Championship Grand Prix on 6 August 2022. Dinja van Liere (NED) on Hermes. – © FEI/Leanjo de Koster

The Rewards of Dressage: A Daily Affair with Horses

“The best thing about dressage or my job as being a dressage rider is that I can work with the horses every single day, and that’s the part I like the most.”

For Van Liere, the most rewarding aspect of being a dressage rider is the daily interaction with horses. Beyond the competition arena, she finds joy in trying new things with her equine companions, witnessing their understanding, and achieving precision in training.

A Special Bond with Capri Sonne Junior

“That horse was just so very special… I always said that was my once-in-a-lifetime horse because yeah, he was absolutely my best friend and my biggest love ever.”

Reflecting on her career, Van Liere reminisces about Capri Sonne Junior, a black stallion who holds a special place in her heart. Describing him as her “once-in-a-lifetime horse,” she recalls their journey, including winning a bronze medal at their first international show.

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Dressage Riders

“You always have to work through that and just go on and keep believing in your horse and in yourself.”

In closing, Van Liere offers advice to aspiring dressage riders, urging them to believe in themselves and their horses.

Acknowledging setbacks as integral to the journey, she emphasizes the significance of continuous learning and nurturing the unique bond with one’s horse.

In this candid interview, Dinja Van Liere provides a glimpse into the challenges, triumphs, and profound connections that define the world of dressage at the highest level.

V. Sozzi | photo 1 Dinja van Liere – Hermes FEI World Cup Dressage Herning 2021 © FEI / Leanjo de Koster

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