Not very often does one get to see two international Grand Prix riders sharing a personal and professional life. Riders who live with or are married to their trainers are much more common than two riders who are partners, lovers, and collaborating professionals as well as competitors in the show ring.
One of those high profile celebrity couples in the dressage world are Dutch team riders Edward Gal and Hans-Peter Minderhoud. While Gal enjoyed his biggest fame aboard the KWPN stallion Lingh finishing second at the 2005 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas and winning team silver at the 2005 European Championships and 2006 World Equestrian Games, Minderhoud and the KWPN mare Nadine became members of the Dutch Grand Prix team in 2007 and won historic team gold for Holland at the 2007 European Championships in Turin, Italy. These are big achievements shared by two riders. There must be a secret to it besides them getting the opportunity to ride top quality dressage horses.
Their professional partnership entails regular review of each other's riding. "We ride together every day and once in a while Hans-Peter helps me by watching and telling me how it looks," Edward Gal told Eurodressage. Hans-Peter said that they sometimes even ride each other's horses to check how the horse feels. Especially towards competitions, the collaboration becomes stronger.
Having a partner who is also a competitor brings about big advantages. "Hans-Peter knows what it is like to be a competition rider; the time you invest in it, the tons of training and being away from home all the time," Gal explained, jokingly adding that, "we only need one hotel room now." Hans-Peter praised their mutual understanding of the sacrifices dressage riders make to be international competition riders. "Competitions are a way of life and it is so much fun if you are with someone who precisely understands that and knows what you are doing, dedicating all your time to horses," Hans-Peter stated.
Working together as a couple day in-day out unearths particular personality treats sometimes invisible to others. "Edward is always positive and cheerful," Hans-Peter admitted, "but he can be a bit stubborn at times." Edward considers Hans-Peter's ambition his strong side. "But sometimes he can be quickly offended," Gal admitted.
To the question whether they feel any personal competition from each other, Edward responded that he only experiences it in the show ring. Hans-Peter claimed, "we both like to win, but you need this trait if you want to get somewhere. In the show ring, we are just competitors but we grant each other the success."
Both Edward and Hans-Peter are looking forward to the 2008 show season when qualification for the Dutch Olympic Team will be their main priority. "Both us will be going for a team place and besides Anky and Imke, there is only one place left," Hans-Peter told Eurodressage.