No, for once not Anky van Grunsven was the talk of the town of the CDIO Aachen, but Holland's shooting star Adelinde Cornelissen. The 28-year old merry Dutch girl beat the entire German Olympic A-team, with the exception of Isabell Werth, and placed second with 73.125% in the CDIO Grand Prix. Aboard the sensitive Dutch bred Parzival (by Jazz), Cornelissen has taken The Netherlands...and Germany by storm!
Cornelissen dominated the Dutch dressage scene during the winter, winning the Dutch Indoor Championships, but at the two Olympic selection trials she made a few mistakes and lost her place on the team to Hans Peter Minderhoud and Nadine. "We did pretty good this winter, but at the observation shows Parzival got spooky. I lost him. Too bad, there is not much to explain," she commented.
In Aachen, Parzival was on the ball and Adelinde rode him cool as a cucumber. When asked what kind of mental preparation she does before entering the ring, she replied "None. The test is the same everywhere, in Germany, Holland, the arena stays 20 x 60." Sports psychologists would get unemployed on cool headed girls such as her!
Parzival is Adelinde's first Grand Prix horse, the first horse she ever did a piaffe on. In 2004 they became Dutch Champions at Fourth level jumping all the way to international Grand Prix in four years time. She got Parzival as a 5-year old from an owner who wanted to sell him. She quickly concluded that the chestnut was a total fruitcake, with talent. "He was nuts," Cornelissen joked. "He used to spook and run away. With him, there is a very thin line between very good and spooky."
Cornelissen lives in the north of The Netherlands and trained with Johan Hamminga before switching to official Dutch team trainer, 58-year old Sjef Janssen . She has her own outdoor arena at her house but with all the bad weather in Holland regulary has to trailer to a stable with an indoor. Because she was in the running to become an Olympic team rider, Cornelissen quit her day-time job as an English teacher and focused on her dressage career.
"I gave up my job in March. It wasn't easy to combine it with riding. I don't have an indoor and I would come home from school round 4.30h PM and had to be out of the indoor by 6 PM. I couldn't train properly," she told Eurodressage. "I got on the Dutch Olympic long list and had to attend extra training sessions, media, mental and psychological training and they were all during weekdays, as well as the trainings with Sjef . It's a 3-hour drive to him. I had to take a day off work 2 to 3 days a month."
Cornelissen talks English with a thick American accent, which she got from working in Canada at Frank and Francine's Aaross Stables in Beachville, Ontario. "I studied English in college and that was boring. I wanted to learn and use the language and went to work for the Gielis family. They are Dutch but settled in Canada 35 years ago. They had just started their business and bought horses in Holland which I trained and helped selling." In 2007, the Gielis family sold their farm and retired.
A bit bummed by the fact that the Dutch Olympic team was not picked after Aachen, Adelinde is still looking forward to going to Hong Kong as the Dutch reserve rider. "Of course you hope nothing happens to the other Dutch horses, you don't want to wish that, but it would have been great to compete there," she admitted. "I'm happy, though, to go as the reserve!"
Cornelissen will not pick up her job as teach when she comes back from Hong Kong right before the new school year. She will be working for the Have family in Vledder, The Netherlands, who are building a whole new dressage stable called "Stal Arcadia". Cornelissen will continued her career as a professional dressage rider and trainer.
Text and photos copyrighted: Astrid Appels
Back to the 2008 Aachen Index