Dressage riders Anne (28) and Lotte Meulendijks (25) were born and raised in the Netherlands where they have built their own empire: MDH Sporthorses. The two have already been very successful in the sport as Anne won team Silver at the 2019 European Championships and qualified for the Olympics. Lotte has proven what she’s worth in the U25 competition.
With their family being horse people and their aunt owning a riding school, the two sisters first got in contact with horses when they were 6. And so it began. ‘We started riding ponies in the riding school. From then on, we always wanted more and more. Which started as a hobby, slowly got out of hand’, Anne says.
After a while, the two had their own 6 stables with 3 ponies, at the riding school. When Lotte was eighteen, she needed to decide what she wanted to study in college. ‘I didn’t really know what I wanted to study and so I decided to take a gap year in which I spent most of my time riding horses and teaching other riders. During that time, I was supposed to figure out what I wanted to study. But plans changed eventually and since then, we started doing the horses professionally’, Lotte says with a smile. ‘We first moved from our aunt’s riding school to another stable where we rode other people’s horses and started to expand our own business as well. After a year, an amazing opportunity crossed our paths as a stable in our village was for sale. We bought the stable and so MDS Sporthorses was born, six years ago now’, she adds.
Like mentioned before, the two sisters have already performed at the highest level. Like any other rider, they are also being trained by someone https://cz-lekarna.com/. Anne is now training with Sjef Janssen, who is also the coach of the National Dressage Team and partner of Olympic dressage rider Anky van Grunsven. Lotte trains with Emmelie Scholtens, who performs at World Championships and European Championships.
Focus on the job
‘The focus within our company is definitely on producing your horses’, Anne says. ‘We have a lot of horses from clients who bring their horses here for us to train them. We also have a few students who we train intensively. There are not too many because we don’t have enough space for their horses in the stable. We really make producing horses for clients our priority. Like that, we can also develop our own riding more. Of course, buying and selling horses is also part of the job, but will never be our number one priority’, she adds.
A family thing
Working with your own family is not for everyone. The two sisters are literally together all the time. They also still live together which doesn’t bother any of them. ‘Of course, we can annoy each other sometimes’, Anne says. ‘Like with every family, there can be small arguments every now and then, but at the end of the day, I think we get along really well.’
They are not sure what the future will bring when it comes to having their own place. The two say that they haven’t really thought about it yet.
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A day at the stable
First things first. Before they have breakfast themselves, Anne and Lotte make sure that their horses have hay first thing in the morning. After breakfast, the girls muck out the stables themselves(!!). I don’t know about other Grand Prix riders, but I am sure that not all of them do the mucking out themselves.
After that, they start to ride the horses. ‘Our days are pretty busy. We do as much as we can ourselves, and then I also spend half of my days with Sjef Janssen and Anky van Grunsven at their stable’, Anne says. ‘Apart from that, we also try to make time to give lessons, but with the Olympics coming up, my training is a priority for me right now.’
‘We also tack up the horses ourselves’, Lotte says. ‘It’s something we pay attention to since it is bonding time you spend with the horse. It wouldn’t be the same if someone else did it for us.’
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Both Lotte and Anne have grown successful and popular social media pages. ‘I think it’s an amazing way to give people an insight into our lives and the equestrian world in general. In the Netherlands, our sport has already received negative attention. We feel like it’s our responsibility, as riders, to show how we treat our horses and what it’s like to spend your day with them. Apart from that, having so many followers helps to create new sponsorships etcetera’, Anne says.
According to Lotte, it’s also about sharing the complete story. ‘We all post our best moments on Instagram. There is nothing wrong with that, but apart from the success, we also want to show everyone what is going on behind the scenes. Like that, they can see what it takes to get somewhere in the sport and that it’s not always fun and games. We too know difficult times sometimes. And that is normal’, she says.
Both Anne and Lotte hope to be able to keep on performing well at the highest level. We wish Lotte all the luck in her last year as a U25 rider and her career as a senior rider, and Anne if she qualifies for the Olympics in Tokyo this year.