City meetings (SO’s)
SO is the Dutch abbreviation for Student Competitions (stedenontmoetingen, or “city meetings”). Many cities have their own student riding association and organise student competitions at their own riding school. This means you ride a horse from the local riding school for the competition—most likely, a horse you don’t know! If you sign up for an SO, you go to another city for a whole weekend and you will compete there at your own level. Dressage as well as jumping competitions are typically offered.
Dressage levels: Ba, Bb, La, Lb and M.
These levels are comparable to the KNHS competitions. Ba is an entry level for riders who have never competed before or are just starting to ride.
Jumping levels: B and L.
So there is a suitable level for everyone! During the preliminary round and the semifinal you will compete at your own level. The final is a level higher.
The SOs are organised by a knock-out system. In this case, two or three riders take turns riding the same horse, with the one who performs the best getting on to the next round. So it is about the best rider, in contrast to the regular competitive sport where it is about the best combination. The combination of horse and rider is determined by drawing lots and new horses are present in each round.
By participating in the SOs you can qualify for the annual Association of Dutch Student Riders Championship (VNSK), the championship for national student riders. By participating in at least two SOs during the academic year and earning VNSK points, riders can be selected to represent their riding school at the VNSK. So the more you win, the more VNSK points, and the more likely you are to be selected! The best three riders per level can start at the VNSK, which is typically organised at the end of the academic year. You compete at your own level as well as at a higher level.
In addition to the competitions, there is always a theme party on Saturday evening. Sometimes you go into town, but usually the party is in the pub of the riding school—it’s whatever the hosting organisation has arranged. Around midnight there will be an announcement about who made it to the semi-finals. After that there is always a lot of partying! Sleeping places are always provided; you only need to bring an air mattress and sleeping bag.
Throughout the academic year, around eight of such SO’s take place across the country. The costs of these weekend (for a single start) are usually around €32,50.
Every year, Hippo organizes a club championship in which all members can participate at their own level. It usually contains three disciplines: dressage, jumping, and agility. In order to be eligible for becoming the club champion, you have to compete in two of the three.
Internal competitions at the Horstlinde
Our riding school, the Horstlinde, organizes interal competitions on a regular basis. As a member of Hippo you can participate in these competitions as well!