Althea Bleekman, who won a silver medal at the 2007 eventing pony European Championships as part of the British team, has been selected to represent the Netherlands at the senior Europeans in Sweden later this month (28 August – 1 September).
Althea, 21, who is based at her family’s Whorridge Farm Stud in Devon, took Dutch nationality in 2011. Her father Edward is Dutch and her mother Clissy rode for the Dutch team after her marriage.
“Riding for the Netherlands was always an option, but it made more sense to be British when I was doing ponies,” said Althea.
“When I decided to make horses my career, there were going to be a lot more chances for me if I were Dutch.”
Althea, who “doesn’t speak Dutch, but is learning”, added: “I was hoping to get on the team as my horse is such a phenomenal jumper, but it was still a little bit of a shock.”
Her ride in Sweden will be the nine-year-old chestnut mare Ziomf, who stands just 15.1hh. Ziomf was bred by the Venderbosch family, who still own her, at their stud at Vasseveld in Holland, and is by Guidam.
Although Althea and Ziomf have only done one CCI3* together — Boekelo last autumn, where they jumped clear across country — they have completed seven CIC3*s.
“She has been to lots of big events and seen plenty of international courses, so her lack of CCI experience doesn’t worry me,” said Althea
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (15 August 2013)