Friday, May. 24, 2024

Fantastic Freestyles: Hans Peter Minderhoud

When Hans Peter Minderhoud started pondering a freestyle for Exquis Nadine, he knew he wanted light and happy music that would emphasize her personality and way of going.

“I wanted to have some music that really fit her. The way she moves is very elegant and charming,” he said.

But when he put together the choreography and sent it off to freestyle specialist Joost Peters, he found himself listening to music he never would have selected on his own.

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When Hans Peter Minderhoud started pondering a freestyle for Exquis Nadine, he knew he wanted light and happy music that would emphasize her personality and way of going.

“I wanted to have some music that really fit her. The way she moves is very elegant and charming,” he said.

But when he put together the choreography and sent it off to freestyle specialist Joost Peters, he found himself listening to music he never would have selected on his own.

“I went to him for two evenings just to listen and to pick some music,” said Minderhoud. They ended up settling on a 1960’s “hippy” theme, beginning with the song “Close To You” by The Carpenters.

“For myself it’s not my favorite music, but it really fits the horse,” explained Minderhoud. “For the freestyle I really like it. Sometimes before the show I listen to it a few times in my car. But I don’t have a CD from The Carpenters in my car.”

The Dutch pair debuted at Grand Prix in 2007 and represented the Netherlands on the gold-medal team at the European Championships that same year. Minderhoud and Nadine went on to compete at the Olympic Games in 2008 and helped the Netherlands earn team silver.

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They’ve been performing the current freestyle for more than a year, and so far Minderhoud has been pleased with their results.

“I did the World Cup qualifiers with her, and at every show I got really high scores for the music. The audience likes it too. In Hong Kong at the Olympics I got a lot of compliments about the music and the way my horse went to the music,” he said.

Minderhoud begins his freestyle with piaffe and passage. “She does piaffe and passage really well. I didn’t know it when I put the freestyle together, but after I had the music I really liked how it starts with slow, easy and light music and then builds it up through the trot work because she has spectacular extended trot and half-passes,” he said.

The 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood (TCN Partout—Charites, Roemer) does her extended trot and half-passes to “Happy Together” by The Turtles.

“The whole test is very symmetric,” said Minderhoud. “After the trot, the walk comes, and that’s also very light. Then we have some more expressive music for the canter. At the end I do piaffe and passage again with the same music I started with.”

One of Minderhoud’s favorite parts of the freestyle comes during the pirouettes to The Byrds “Turn! Turn! Turn!.” Nadine does extended canter across the diagonal directly into double pirouettes. He also appreciates her passage half-passes at the end of the test.

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“The music really fits with all the movements. It gives you a really good feeling when your horse is going well and with the music,” he said.

Minderhoud has consistently scored above 77 percent in his World Cup qualifiers and has always finished in the top three. He was third in the Western European League behind Germany’s Isabell Werth and the Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen.

Although Minderhoud has been quite pleased with his results this season, he’s hoping for his best test yet in Las Vegas.

“It’s worked out really well, but in all the shows I had sometimes a little mistake, and I think every show it was in another exercise. I hope in Las Vegas all the little mistakes are out, and I can score a little bit higher than I did before,” he said.

Vegas may also be the last time Minderhoud performs this freestyle before changing things. “I think after Las Vegas I want to start with something new,” he said.  

Sara Lieser

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