Storr, Matthiesen and Van der Heijden Fly Across the Globe for 2023 CDI Sydney

Fri, 03/24/2023 - 08:23
Peter Storr at the 2022 CDIO Compiegne :: Photo © Astrid Appels

British and Danish 5* judges Peter Storr and Hans Christian Matthiesen and Dutch 4* judge Maarten van der Heijden will be heading to the CDI Sydney on 25 - 29 April 2023 to officiate on the ground jury of this Australian international dressage competition.

An interesting biographical peek into these judges' career was publishing on the website of Equestrian Australia.

Peter Storr

In April Peter Storr will be judging in Sydney. It will be his fourth visit to Australia.

At the beginning of 2021 he had been promoted to 5* judging status signifying his eligibility to officiate at senior FEI Championships around the world.

Based in the U.K. he has trained and competed many grand prix horses.

“I also showjumped and evented in my early years,” added the 57-year-old who was born in Cheshire to ‘totally unhorsey parents’. “I’d become obsessed with riding when I was eight after I’d been pony trekking with my sister.

“I pestered my parents until they let me have a monthly lesson at a local club. I was a terribly nervous rider and pretty pathetic when it came to trying anything new. It wasn’t until I went to work at a dealer’s yard as a teenager that I got my nerve back.”

Peter went on to work and study overseas, learning from dressage masters, training with international riders and flourishing in the competition arena.

He has represented his country in world and European events, was Grand Prix national champion in 2000 and 2001 and awarded over forty major titles. 

He retired from competition in 2014. 

For eight years he trained the British Pony Team during which time individual riders won gold in two consecutive years, and the Team won gold, silver and two team bronzes. 

“I’m looking forward to my fourth trip to your country,” he said. “It is always a pleasure.”

Hans Christian Matthiesen

Veterinarian and 5* judge, Hans Christian Matthiesen, has been to Australia several times from his home in Denmark.

“I come from a family of Danish warmblood breeders, have ridden up to GP level dressage and work in a horse hospital north of Copenhagen,” he explained. “My main veterinary interests are orthopaedics, neck/back problems, lameness, poor performance in riding horses and training related injuries.” 

Hans Christian Matthiesen
On the international equestrian scene he has been the veterinarian for Team Denmark from 2004-2013 including three Olympic Games (Athens, Hong Kong, London), two WEGs and several European championships and World Cup finals.

He was chef d’equipe for the Danish Junior and Young Rider teams from 2005 to 2009.

“I’ve judged in many countries including the Tokyo Olympics, hosted education clinics and been a guest speaker at many veterinary conferences and trainer meetings,” added Hans Christian, who has been a 5* judge since 2014.

When asked what significant changes he has witnessed in international dressage he stated that in recent decades the horses’ quality and talent have become so much better.

And is there a universal problem with competitive dressage riders? “Combining and aligning talent, aspiration and hard work,” he replied. “It all takes time, even with a talented horse – and it takes money.”

He also emphasised two other significant points - that horses are individuals and should be treated that way; and the importance of striving for more education in the sport of dressage.

Maarten van der Heijden

Maarten van der Heijden is an all-round competitive horseman. He has competed in big tour dressage, 1.40m showjumping and in national eventing classes.

As a psychologist and behavioural scientist he was in public health and education working with mentally handicapped adolescents who had serious disorders and psychiatric problems. He then became manager of the Medical and Social Scientific staff.

Maarten van der Heijden
“In later years, from 2008-2020, I was the High Performance Director and Secretary-General of the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation (KNHS),” he added. “Nowadays I’m a private trainer and coach living in the Netherlands, and in Portugal in the winter.” 

Prior to visiting Sydney Maarten’s role as a four-star judge would have taken him to the World Cup qualifier in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the WC Final in Omaha.

He said he has noticed changes in competitive international dressage in the last few years.

“Breeding and quality has increased a lot and we have very talented, sensitive and supple horses. Also, the sport has grown in many countries and there are more riders able to compete at the very top which makes dressage less predictable and much more exciting. So many combinations are riding nowadays with almost invisible aids and loads of harmony. That's what we all like to see!”

And he has witnessed breeds other than warmbloods doing well on the international circuit.

“In Spain and Portugal I’ve judged many Lusitanos and PRE horses. They have an incredible talent for collection and excel in piaffe, passage and pirouettes. Their breeding is also improving with more suppleness and more capability for extensions. I like their willing character and good mind. Also, in the Netherlands, I’ve judged some very nice Friesians with a good pi/pa. 

“Attending your competition will be first time I’ve judged in Australia. I am greatly looking forward to the event.”

Photos © Astrid Appels

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