Thursday, Jul. 25, 2024

Groom Spotlight: Dinette Neuteboom Puts The Trot In Globetrotting

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Near the end of 2009, 34-year-old Dinette Neuteboom needed a change. A college professor and professional trainer, she quit her teaching and riding jobs to travel the world, leaving her friends and family behind in the Netherlands. Neuteboom had no return date planned; she was ready for an adventure to wherever life took her. 

“Horses and travel are two of my passions,” she said. “I love to travel, so I decided to do it. I wanted to live my dreams before I died; I didn’t want to wait until I was 65 and retired. You never know if your health will be good by then or you’ll have the finances to do so.” 

Over the past 14 years, Neuteboom has traveled to 42 countries and 40 states within the United States. 

“I live my life out of a suitcase,” she explained. “Home is wherever that is.”

“I live my life out of a suitcase. Home is wherever that is,” says Netherlands-born professional rider, groom and writer Dinette Neuteboom, who has taken grooming, riding and other horse-related jobs in places ranging from South America to China. Arnd Bronkhorst Photo

Prior to becoming a world traveler, Neuteboom, now 48, grew up in Hattem, the Netherlands. Although her family was not horsey, a friend in elementary school introduced Neuteboom to horses. She was immediately hooked and spent hours absorbing everything she could about horse care, riding and showing jumpers. As her horse knowledge progressed, Neuteboom started writing for Hattem’s quarterly equestrian club journal. This quickly morphed into her covering equestrian sports for Dutch regional and national papers. 

After earning a degree in education, Neuteboom started teaching Dutch, horse care, nutrition and horse training classes at an equine college. She was also working toward her international horse trainer’s license, also known as ORUN (Opleidingen Ruiter Unie Nederland) International Trainer Passport. The process can take up to five years to complete and is comprised of three parts—theoretical, riding and teaching—and students who pass must renew their license annually. Once licensed, Neuteboom balanced her college teaching, writing for Dutch publications, and riding and training horses for 11 years. 

Around The World And Back

Neuteboom’s first stop in her tour of the globe was the 2010 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, where she groomed for an amateur jumper rider. 

“I wanted to see Wellington—I had heard so much about it for so long,” she said. “It seemed like it was a world in and of itself, and that is very true!” 

Neuteboom continued to write for multiple Dutch magazines, which opened up several doors to explore more countries, including Argentina. 

A connection to Zangersheide Argentina led to a job in the country for Neuteboom, as well as plenty of travel. Photo Courtesy Of Dinette Neuteboom

“I’ve always wanted to go there—one of the riders I helped in the Netherlands sold a horse to Zangersheide Argentina,” she said. “I met the stable manager of Zangersheide Belgium when I was in the United States; I was interviewing him for one of the Dutch magazines. He knew the people at Zangersheide Argentina, and that’s how it all started.” 

Neuteboom soon found herself in Argentina, taking in the new scenery and the Spanish language. Although she did not intend to ride there, Neuteboom was back on a horse in about a week’s time.

“I told them I could ride, but I had never ridden professionally,” she said. “The first day, I had one horse to ride, and I was climbing on in my hiking shoes! Then I had four to ride the second day, and then nine the next. Before I knew it, I was showing some horses in the 1.20-meter jumpers.”

Neuteboom then held a short two-month stint in New Zealand, before returning to Wellington to help Wendy and Ezequiel Peralta at the 2012 Winter Equestrian Festival. Neuteboom then headed to China to ride. 

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“One of my friends in the Netherlands told me he knew someone in China who was looking for a European flat rider,” she said. “I wanted to do it; I wanted to see the culture and the country.” 

Neuteboom stayed there for a year, riding young horses and helping in the barn. After leaving China, she had one regret: She wished she’d learned Chinese. 

“The wife of my translator was teaching me for a while, but I struggled on my own without her,” she said. “There, they make sounds that are hard to keep track of. Now looking back on it, I wish I had made more of an effort to learn Chinese.” 

Neuteboom, giving the thumbs up, riding with her colleagues in China. Photo Courtesy Of Dinette Neuteboom

In fall 2013, Neuteboom and a friend went on a three-and-a-half week trip to explore northwestern Mongolia. Neuteboom had a goal in mind: She wanted to see the last of the wild herds of Przewalski’s horses, also known as Takhi in native Mongolian. 

“I love nature and it’s beauty,” Neuteboom said. “We hiked for most of the trip, like six to eight miles a day.”

A guide and two camels accompanied them; the camels carried their luggage and helped them cross difficult terrain and deep rivers. After hiking for a week in the Gobi Desert, they reached the Hustai National Park, and Neuteboom found the wild horses. 

“I was getting nervous because we hadn’t seen them yet, and my guide admitted that she had only seen the wild horses twice in her life,” Neuteboom said. “So while everyone stopped to eat lunch, I stubbornly climbed a few more hills in order to find the horses. I was determined, and I found them! I took so many pictures, enjoying every moment with them.” 

Out of all her travels, one of Neuteboom’s favorite places was Wyoming. 

In 2021, she spent six months at The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch in Shell, working as a wrangler and trail guide. 

“I had always wanted to go out to the American West and experience it,” she said. “I didn’t know how to saddle a western horse at all, but the owners of the ranch told me to come anyway; they promised to teach me!”

While there, Neuteboom learned many new skills, including how to bring the herd in for the day and how to choose the horses the guests would be riding, depending on their skill and the terrain to cover.

Neuteboom had never cinched up a western saddle during her time in Wyoming, but she left her job as a wrangler knowing how to gather cattle and run a touring program. Photo Courtesy Of Dinette Neuteboom

The Pull Of Wellington

Even though Neuteboom has traveled worldwide, she always feels a pull to return to Wellington. She’s groomed and ridden for several trainers and amateur riders at WEF over the years, including Ben Simpkins, Alexa Lowe and Lauren Crooks. Although jumpers are a familiar world for her, she’s always been intrigued by the top U.S. hunters. 

“What I really like in the hunter world is that the riding is so sophisticated, and you can learn so much from it,” she said. “It’s just beautiful to watch what they can do.” 

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In 2019, she was a part of Private Practice’s winning team when he won the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular (Florida) with Tori Colvin. This led her to work for the Ingrams with barn manager Torrey Hardison. “I learned so much from everyone there, especially [trainer] Tom Wright. He’s an amazing horseman.” 

Neuteboom, left, with Tori Colvin, Private Practice and groom Aurelio Elizondo at the 2019 WCHR Peter Wetherhill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular (Fla.). Photo Courtesy Of Dinette Neuteboom

Neuteboom has also helped hunter trainer Brady Mitchell, and she has ridden/groomed for owner Bryan Baldwin of Meralex Farm. For the past two winters, she has helped with the top derby mount El Primero under the watchful eyes of Peggy Gehman, barn manager Nanci Snyder, Colvin, and trainers Jack Towell and Liza Boyd. 

“When you’re on the team, you see first-hand all the work that goes into it,” Neuteboom said. “You realize how professional the whole team is: the riders, the trainers, the grooms. Liza, Jack and Tori are three of the top hunter professionals in the country—if you do your work well, the horses win.”

Neuteboom enjoyed her winter with the “seriously top notch” team at Meralex Farm, including (from left) Tori Colvin on Bryan Baldwin’s young horse Hillsborough Bay, Salvador Martinez, Neuteboom and barn manager Nanci Snyder, as well as (not pictured) groom Gerardo Trejo and trainers Liza Boyd and Jack Towell. Photo Courtesy Of Dinette Neuteboom

Supporting The Horse World From A Computer

Last fall, Neuteboom had an idea: She wanted to create a website where grooms, trainers, and horse enthusiasts could learn more about the horse world and its intricacies. “For my whole life, I’ve been an educator at heart,” Neuteboom said. “I want to contribute to keeping horsemanship alive, and I want to help educate others. I asked myself, ‘How can I contribute to improving how we keep or train horses?’ My answer to that was that I could write, and I have a huge network.” 

To make it a reality, she approached Amy McGann, who she met at The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch and has become a close friend. This year the pair launched HorseGrooms.com, with McGann as the creative director. 

“We have many contributors and specialists who write for the page,” Neuteboom said. “We have a lot of good people who support the goal of this website. I’m so grateful for that—they want to contribute for the same reasons I do.” 

Currently, Neuteboom is in the Netherlands as the press secretary for the two weeks of the Indoor Friesland, a popular three-star international dressage and show jumping. This is her second year covering the event. 

“It’s one of the nicest three-star shows here; they compare it to the Dutch Masters facilities,” she said. “It’s not just horse showing; it attracts a wide audience. There’s something for everyone—families, kids, etc.”

Neuteboom (center) interviewing Dutch dressage rider Dinja van Liere at the Indoor Friesland in her home country of the Netherlands. Digishots Photo

Although Neuteboom was recently married, she doesn’t seem to have any intentions of slowing down. She still enjoys traveling, riding and writing and hopes to take her husband with her on her travels. 

“I stay involved in many different aspects of the horse world. I can write well; I can ride well; and I can groom well,” she said.  “When I’m just on the computer writing, I’m not my happiest. I need the horses in my life too. I like to understand all aspects of horses: see what trainers are doing to get the horses to perform their best, or watch the grooms help the horses peak, what the show organizers do, how hard it is, everything about it. There are many different ways to do things that can lead to good results. The better we understand each other, the more we can help each other.”


Do you know an exceptional groom who deserves to be showcased in our Groom Spotlight section? If so, email kloushin@coth.com to tell us all about that person.

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