Dutch show jumper Harrie Smolders has announced that top horse Emerald is retiring from competition. The announcement was formally made at Eurohorse’s stallion presentation in Grobbendonk, Belgium, on Feb. 13. The 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion (Diamant De Semilly—Carthina Z, Carthago Z) owned by Axel Verlooy and Eurohorse will now stand at stud.
“He’s still plenty fit to be at the top level. He put us in [the] No. 1 spot,” said Smolders, who held the No. 1 rider position on the Longines ranking list in November and December of 2018. “But we also felt the last two years that his breeding career almost [started] to overwhelm his sport career, and I think with what he has accomplished he deserves to retire at the highest level. I think it was a good moment to do it. Now he has the chance to become the No. 1 breeding stallion in the world.”
Emerald already has several notable progeny competing, including Igor, who jumped on the Belgian team at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina) with Jos Verlooy.
With Smolders Emerald took second in the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. Later that year the pair represented the Netherlands at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and qualified for the individual final. Emerald and Smolders were also part of the Dutch effort that won Nations Cup events in Gijón, Spain, in 2013, Falsterbo, Sweden, in 2015, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2016. Emerald won the $125,000 Longines FEI Washington World Cup qualifier (District of Columbia) in 2015.
The horse’s Fédération Equestre Internationale record started nearly a decade ago when the stallion finished second in the 6-year-old final at the FEI WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championship (Belgium) in 2010.
“When we went to try him out, we had never heard of him, and we tried many horses,” Smolders said. “And when you try horses, you always doubt about the scope, or the technique, or the brain, or wonder, ‘Is he teachable?’ And when we tried Emerald, we didn’t have to say anything to each other. We knew straight away this was the horse.”
Over a nine-year period, Emerald competed in no less than 247 FEI competitions, all of them with Smolders.
“Hopefully I will get another horse in my career like that,” Smolders said. “That’s the kind of horse, after my career, I think people will remember him, and when they think about my career Emerald will show up in their mind. He brought us so many opportunities and so much press; he’s been the little pop star in our stable.”