Portrait: European Championship Gold Medalist Diederick van Silfhout

3 min.

For the past 20 years, Dutch rider Diederick van Silfhout has enjoyed success in the world of equestrian sports, both within and beyond the dressage arena. Riding has been an integral part of his family throughout his life, and he also began riding at an early age. His father, Alex van Silfhout, has been a professional in the equestrian world for Diederick’s entire life, serving as both a trainer and a rider. He has achieved top-3 placements multiple times at the Dutch dressage championships and has been the trainer for the Dutch dressage national team since 2019.

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Diederick quickly found success as a dressage rider, winning seven European Championship gold medals during his junior and young rider years, spread across two individual and five team medals. Many of his early successes took place aboard the horse Ruby, which briefly accompanied van Silfhout into the senior level before transitioning into a broodmare. Van Silfhout’s senior career took a few years to reach its highest level, but in 2014, he made his debut for the Dutch national team.

Career highpoints with Arlando

This debut occurred at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, making the event as significant as it could be. Throughout 2014, the relatively inexperienced stallion Arlando N.O.P. became van Silfhout’s preferred competition horse. At the World Equestrian Games, he teamed up with Adelinde Cornelissen, Hans Peter Minderhoud, and Edward Gal, all of whom had contributed to winning team gold in the previous championship. Impressively, van Silfhout and Arlando emerged as the second-best Dutch pair in individual competitions, helping secure bronze medals for the team. This strong form continued for van Silfhout and Arlando over the next two years.

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Photo: Kamila Tworkowska

In 2015, the duo once again represented their homeland, this time at the European Championships in Aachen. While they finished in 10th and 9th positions in individual competitions, they contributed to the team’s victory, earning a gold medal. This marked the sixth consecutive European Championship where the Netherlands achieved a medal placement. The following year, the pair secured the Dutch dressage championship title, with their freestyle performance propelling them to first place from a third-place finish in the Grand Prix Special. A month later, they participated in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, again alongside Minderhoud, Gal, and Cornelissen. However, the event ended disappointingly, as it was the first Olympics without Dutch dressage medals since 1992. In April 2017, Arlando, then ranked 12th among the world’s best dressage horses, was sold to Danish rider Anna Zibrandtsen, with whom he also competed in the European Championships of the same year. Arlando was retired in 2021 at the age of 16.

Aiming for Paris

After the sale of Arlando, van Silfhout’s sports career did not reach the same heights as before. He participated in the 2017 European Championships, riding Four Seasons 19. Once again, he and the Dutch team missed out on medal placements. Since then, his focus has gradually shifted more towards the business aspect of the industry. He attributed this change to the economic consequences of Covid-19’s impact on the sport, along with his ongoing search for a horse with which he can reach the top again. In 2021, he stated his ambition to find a horse to qualify for the Paris Olympics. Diederick van Silfhout’s journey in the world of dressage has been marked by remarkable successes, challenges, and a strong family legacy. No matter if it is in the riding arena or as a horsebreeder, he will continue to make his mark on the world of dressage.

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