Portrait: Marieke van der Putten’s patient rise to the top

3 min.

Marieke van der Putten has spent the majority of her riding career in the shadows of other riders. Like many other successful riders, she began riding at a young age. At just one and a half years old, she got her first pony and has been pursuing her riding dream ever since. However, the dressage arena wasn’t always her dream. Instead, her primary goal was to become a professional show jumper. Despite this, her parents insisted that she also train in dressage to improve her overall riding skills. This decision turned out to be advantageous when her horse got injured and could no longer jump. Consequently, the focus shifted to dressage, leading van der Putten to find her future place in the professional equestrian world.

Carving Her Own Path

In the equestrian world, much like in any sport, there’s a limited number of spots for individuals who aim to make a living through competition. Therefore, most aspiring professionals in the equestrian realm must explore alternative paths to reach their goals. Marieke van der Putten has spent the majority of her ongoing riding career as an assistant to other riders. Her status as a top rider began to establish itself when she participated in the Young Horse World Championships from 2012 to 2016, with a particularly outstanding partnership with the stallion Four Legends in 2015 and 2016. During these years, van der Putten served as an assistant rider to Dutch European and World champions, Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud.

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The year 2017 marked a significant turning point in Marieke van der Putten’s career. Early in the year, she and her mare Ambria were selected to be part of the Dutch A-team. A month later, she announced her departure from riding for Gal and Minderhoud. Subsequently, she joined RS2 Dressage, initially starting as an assistant rider, but eventually achieving her breakthrough.


The horse that ended up helping Marieke van der Putten reach the highest level is named Torveslettens Titanium. This gelding made his international competition debut in October 2021 alongside Marieke van der Putten. They secured a 2nd and 1st place in their first appearances, immediately showcasing their potential for significant results. A series of impressive performances followed, and 10 months later, they represented the Netherlands at the World Championships in Herning. Although they didn’t achieve any medal placements, they demonstrated promising signs and were just one placement away from advancing from the first round of individual competition.

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Photo: Kamila Tworkowska

Challenges and looking ahead

After Herning, van der Putten and Titanium embarked on a streak of impressive World Cup results, securing them a spot in the final in Omaha. Unfortunately, the World Cup final didn’t unfold as hoped for the pair, despite being among the favorites. In the Grand Prix class, they finished in 8th place, lower than expected. Marieke van der Putten later revealed that Titanium, affectionately known as Tito, seemed overwhelmed during the competition. Unfortunately, this unease went beyond mere overwhelm; the pair withdrew from the decisive kur test as Tito displayed symptoms of colic. Two days later, it was revealed that he had undergone surgery as there were no signs of improvement. The operation was successful, but Tito had to remain in the USA to recover. Since then, only limited information has been shared about the talented horse’s condition, but hopes remain for his best possible future, whether he returns to competitions or not.

Without her top horse, Marieke van der Putten’s activity on the international riding scene has been limited since the World Cup final in April. Whether the future holds a comeback for Titanium or if a new top horse is on the way, remains a question of speculation for now. Van der Putten’s career is still young in terms of competing internationally and her journey shows that success often unfolds through alternative paths and patience.

Read also: Portrait: Showjumper and Recordbreaker Olivier Philippaerts

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