Dutch FEI Pony His Royal Badness DK Returned to Owner

Tue, 05/21/2024 - 11:43
The Netherlands
Sophie van der Steen and His Royal Badness DK at the 2023 Dutch Outdoor Championships :: Photo © Digishots

Dutch equestrian publication Horses.nl has reported that His Royal Badness DK, the current FEI World Pony number one, has been returned to the owner. A legal battle precedes this action.

His Royal Badness DK is an 8-year old NRPS registered pony by Hesselteich Golden Dream out of former international FEI pony Nina van de Beekerheide. He is bred by Demi Kurstjens and owned by Servé Frantzen. 

His Royal Badness DK

The chestnut stallion made his appearance on the international show scene under Isa Hollands, who trains with Saskia van Es. They debuted at the CDI level in March 2022 in Lier and then went to the CDIO Compiegne, where he had to be trotted up several times in order to pass the horse inspection. The pair went on to win the Kur to Music there.  At their next CDI in Exloo they were eliminated. 

On 27 February 2023 the stallion was allocated to Sophie van der Steen on loan. The rider's family took over all costs and Sophie trained the stallion with Joyce Lenaerts and Marcel Sterrenburg at De Beukenvallei. At the FEI Pony Measuring Session in Saint-Lô, France on 28 April 2023,  His Royal Badness DK tested positive to the controlled medication Acepromazine, a sedative. Owner Frantzen received an Administrative Sanction from the FEI as the person responsible.

Van der Steen debuted the breeding stallion at the CDI Deauville in July 2023 and won all three rounds. They also reigned supreme at the CDI Kronenberg and became 203 Dutch Pony Champions. They concluded the year at the CDI Aachen Indoor with three top four placings.  On 1 March 2024 they won the Dutch Indoor Pony Championships. 

Legal Battle

On 4 March 2024 owner Frantzen picked up His Royal Badness DK.  Van der Steen's mom Judith Sondag sued Frantzen.

The owner had brought it to Equitom equine clinic in Belgium for 4 weeks, where the stallion was diagnosed with a tendon injury in the left front leg. He needed to stay there until 2 April 2024 for rehabilitation.  The Court in Roermond cast its verdict on 19 March and ruled that the pony had to be returned to rider Van der Steen. The pony moved back into to the Beukenvallei on 2 April 2024 after his 30 days in the equine clinic.

Frantzen appealed and the legal battle moved to the court of Den Bosch at the start of May, where a compromise was reached that the equine clinic in Utrecht had to independently decide whether the pony was fit to compete in the Dutch team selection trials for the 2024 European Pony Championships. If not, the loan between Frantzen and Sondag would be ended and the pony returned. 

Horses.nl reported that Prof. Dr. Harold Brommer of the Equine Clinic in Utrecht has examined the pony and decided that "the show season of the stallion is over. His Royal Badness is looking at a long period of rehabilittion."

Source: Horses.nl
Photo © Digishots

Related Link
Dutch Pony Rider Sophie van der Steen Reunited with His Royal Badness DK