Yves Vanderhasselt : the amateur’s dream
Do you think that's normal, the ranking system, the invitations to compete?
Y. V.: "No, it’s not normal. It would be fairer to change the system and give points to a horse and rider combination, and a maximum of twenty or thirty results per year, the best results of a couple of competitions I’d say. Now the good riders, they have a lot of horses, they can go to competitions every weekend and it doesn't give others a chance to get in."
Is that frustrating?
Y. V.: "No, because the team coach trusts me and gave me a chance at Aachen and St. Gallen, among others. I was selected for Knokke and the Stephex Masters, two Five Stars, I have no reason to complain."
Is it nice that he trusts you or the fact that when we get results, the rest follows? The fact that you get results and that you have been able to get selected for other competitions and that everything follows on the sporting side?
Y. V.: "When you get selected, you want to do the right thing to prove that you have earned the place. I’m also happy that Hetman of Colors jumped well in Lanaken. I have entered Hetman for the Belgian championship and I’m still seventh. He will be able to help Jeunesse, I’m happy to be able to count on him as a second horse."
These are precisely the results that you think wouldn’t have been possible if you hadn’t had the opportunity to ride at the highest level. Do you now think you can manage a Belgian championship without too much experience, because it seems easier to you?
Y. V.: "Yes, probably. I'm still in the rhythm, more so than before. And I’ve still gained a lot of experience at this level this year."
Your talent on course is one thing, but your strength of character is another. For instance, when you decided to quit smoking in a day, it also shows character, the determination you can have for certain things.
Y. V.: "Yes, probably. Yes, if I want something, I can get it."
Have you been like that since you were a kid? Did you learn that because you’re part of a large family?
Y. V.: "I think so."
With Jeunesse, or even with others, do you still plan to train young horses as well? Does the time it takes for the big competitions with Jeunesse no longer give you the opportunity to do so...?
Y. V.: "Sure, I'm going to continue to train. There are some four-year-old’s, and we already have a son of Jeunesse who's coming home to be broken in."
And you won't let anyone else ride him?
Y. V.: "No. I will continue to ride him of course. I like to ride the young horses."
Is that your way of keeping your feet on the ground?
Y. V.: "No, but I want to feel them. It’s much easier to judge them when you’re on them than when you just watch them. You have to ride them, maybe not every day, but you have to ride them."
Has it just been Marc Van Dijck who has trained you for the most part or have you had other coaches during your career?
Y. V.: "No, after him, I haven’t had any others. Last winter, I took dressage lessons with Jeunesse."
Y. V.: "At Peter Demeulder's, who lives five minutes away from here, he competed to a good level. He's truly a dressage teacher and it obviously helped us. During the season, I didn't do it anymore and as she had done enough competing, I didn't want to bother her too much in between. But it helped us to develop, to get stronger, to be more precise. But I haven’t had any jump lessons."
You had Marc Van Dijck as a trainer but during the time you were at Stephex, did Gilbert De Roock help you a little or not especially?
Y. V.: "No, not especially. Everyone was doing their own thing. We had some classes with Lesley McNaught at Stephex. But I do watch a lot; I really like to watch others."
Yves was crowned world champion of the 5-years-old with Gladys (Wandor vd Mispelaere) who then competed at the top level with Daniel Deusser.
At one point, didn't you get Trevor Coyle to help you a little?
Y. V.: "No. I thought about it, I was in contact with Trevor too, he also lives five minutes away from us, but I’ve never had a lesson with him."
It was really Marc van Dijck who took charge of your training at a very young age and helped get you to the top... What did he teach you?
Y. V.: "To keep it simple. Don't overcomplicate it, stay relaxed, don't start asking too much, or using bits that are too strong, and don’t use too much leg at the quarter turn, it creates panic. Relax, don't put too much pressure on."
What made your collaboration work for so long, because it was something that lasted quite a few years?
Y. V.: "Yes, almost ten years. I don't know..."
Do you complement each other well?
Y. V.: Yes, apparently, he worked the horses during the week, and it seems we were quite complementary, the horses jumped well."
It was a win-win situation.
Y. V.: "Yes, apparently yes. For me it was a good solution. I could go to competitions with good horses without having to spend too much time on them, and for him it was also a good solution, he had a rider."
Is your family life important too?
Y. V.: Yes, it's very important because the children go to sleep between 7 and 8pm so I want to be home by 6pm at the latest. That's why I ride two at noon, but I have a good rider at home. He takes the horses out twice a day at least, sometimes three times and as I don't have many horses, it's manageable."
And finally, with what you have done so far, have you had to make concessions on competitions for your family as well?
Y. V.: "No, I haven’t. My wife will also motivate and support me rather than telling me to stay home. The whole family would rather support me..."
Will they support you or will they push you to do it?
Y. V.: "Yes, push."
Because you wouldn't dare or wouldn't want to?
Y. V.: "Yes, I know our luck may run out, so I have to take advantage of Jeunesse while she's here, while she's healthy, I realize I have to take advantage of her while I can and they're going to support me."
As you like to be realistic, the hardest part with Jeunesse is looking ahead, do you see yourself riding her in the future, or do you entertain offers for the mare? Have you hesitated at any time?
Y. V.: It’s actually my father who has always said "wait, now that you have a good mare, enjoy her" and Evelyne also says "enjoy her instead of selling her now" and if everything goes well, when she is ten or eleven years old, she will be worth a lot of money. So that's what we're doing, we're going to enjoy her a little bit."
Are the European Championships an objective this year?
Y. V.: "Yes, they could be an objective. Tryon was never a goal because it was too close. I never thought of Tryon, but after Saint Gallen and Aachen, we know what she's capable of, and the European Championships could be a goal, yes."