Leida Collins-Strijk Coaches the Next Generation and Competes her Grand Prix Horse West Side

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Friday, March 24, 2017

Top rider Leida Collins-Strijk, a multi-medalist for the Netherlands and high ranking rider who has consistently competed with great success throughout Europe, including 's-Hertogenbosch, Amsterdam, Vidauban, Hickstead, Stuttgart, Saumur and many FEI Grand Prix European tour competitions, shares her knowledge to prepare 21-year-old Diana Porsche and 17-year-old Jade Ellery in Wellington for the Under 25 and Junior Division competitions. “I love helping young people.”

On riding here in Wellington, she said, “It’s a great place to present a horse nationally or internationally in preparation for the European competitions during the summer.” Leida’s Wellington base is her father-in-law’s farm just minutes from the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival showgrounds. For the 2017 winter season, Leida has seven dressage horses currently at their Wellington stable. “We have some to compete, some sales prospects and some for the young riders.”

Leida grew up in the southern part of the Netherlands in a town called Brakel, also the home of dressage Olympian Coby van Baalen. “I started riding when I was 12 even though my parents had nothing to do with horses.” Mentored by Coby for 10 years, Leida’s father paid half her riding costs and she worked as a groom and brushed horses 7 days a week to pay for the other half. “For me, Coby set the base, the work ethics and all the discipline. It was the best thing for me.”

About coaching her young riders, Leida shared, “I try to take the good points and the bad points and create pathways for Diana and Jade,” explained Leida. “Because every horse is different, we have to learn what works or if we need to think of new plans.”L-R Patrick Schutte, Jade Ellery, Leida Collins and Diana Porsche

Diana Porsche, who rides for Austria, on her own 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Di Sandro (De Niro x Gentina x Sandro) has already risen to the top of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival leaderboard in all U-25 classes. The pair scored 74.875% in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 CDIU25, are currently ranked number one on the U25 FEI Youth Dressage World Ranking List for 2017 and are diligently training for the August 30-September 3, 2017 FEI U25 European Championships in Lamprechtshausen, Austria.

Jade Ellery, from Spain and who rides for Great Britain, has been leasing Diana’s 12-year-old Hanoverian Porsche’s Eloy (Earl x Wendenburg) in preparation for the Junior Division 2017 European Championships. She is experiencing highly effective training on the horse and good scores in the CDI arena. The rider and horse are now preparing for a coveted spot on the British team for the Junior/Young Riders European Championships taking place August 9-13, 2017 in Roosendaal, Holland.

Already performing magnificently at this year’s Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, Leida also prepares her horse West Side (Florett AS x Equador) for the 2017 FEI Grand Prix season. She has owned the KWPN gelding all his life. Shared Leida, “West Side is still working on getting ready for the big European ring, but right now we’ve been concentrating on the national classes for that next big step.He’s been amazing.” While Leida enjoys motivating and encouraging others, during AGDF Week #5 she and West Side scored 73% in their first Grand Prix national class for 2017.

Along with her husband, Olympic and international eventing and showjumping rider Tim Collins and their three children ages 6, 13 and 14, the Collins-Strijk family also owns a competition yard for dressage and jumping horses in the Netherlands. The farm is convenient to the summer Northern European competitions. “We have quite a few horses in Europe, all breeding horses and young ones for showjumping. My husband also has horses here in Wellington with Neil Jones; Mavis Spencer rides them for jumping.”

When in either Wellington or Holland, Leida has long-term business relations with rider and Pan American Games medalist Chris von Martels from Canada. Chris coaches fellow Canadian U25 rider Mathilde Blais Tetreault at both farms. Last summer, Mathilde paired with Utah, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding (by Jazz x Landwind II) and they recently scored a 70.850% in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 CDIU25. Utah was trained by Leida but competed by former stable rider, Danielle Houtvast. 

At the farm locations and during show travels, Leida receives exceptional horse management assistance from Patrick Schutte. Leida describes the entire group, “We’re really like a team, all working together.”

Coaching Young Riders Diana Porsche and Jade Ellery

Leida said, “I tell the girls that they need to have a plan and keep thinking along their own pathway. That while they might want to take advice from people because it’s good to learn, they have to remember that they know their horse.” She pointed out, “When we are young, we think that we want to be like someone. But, we can’t be like somebody else. We have to be our own person and it’s a long process with a lot of ups and downs. I still feel that I’m learning everyday.”

“I have totally different programs for Diana and Jade because one is a seasoned competition rider and one is brand new to the international competition arena. Jade is really learning how to get a feeling from the horse and Diana is an excellent show rider. My two students are so different. With Jade, I have to make her sharp in preparation for the ring and with Diana, I have to be quieter because they are different in their minds and thought processes."

"When Jade arrived at the beginning of the season, she was overwhelmed and now after 10 weeks she has pieces of the puzzle to work on and perfect. She’s come a long way in a short amount of time. I really want her to learn what she is doing so she can do it on her own with this horse or later with another horse. It’s all step-by-step. This is what I see as the fun part about riding. It’s making a positive step every day, some steps forward and some steps back, but that's riding and the way to progress. Diana already has this in her mind as we work on the pieces with her horses. She has that instinct, that order in her mind of a good show rider with her horses in preparation and in their training. With Diana, we work together to help her horses get rid of any nervousness and learn how to be confident in the ring."

"I really like my students to really work in the ring, use the corners and to make nice half-halts, really prepare their horses for each movement. I want the judges to say, ‘Wow, this rider is really doing something in there.' The judges really can see when the riders do the small preparations. They don’t want to see them just riding around." She continued, "It has to look good, but it also has to be that the rider is really utilizing the time to ride the horse. And that is what Jade is really having to learn. This season she’s had to learn how to separate her body and really learn to think on her upper body and then her lower body. I really want her to learn how isolate each part."

An intensive three months, Leida said, “I think it is fun though. It’s heaven here. It’s a great experience. It’s amazing what each of them have learned in three months, really amazing.” 

“It also comes down to the right personality to become a top rider. It doesn’t have to do with a person who has natural talent and natural good feeling on a horse. It’s more about the ones who want to work and fight for the learning. I truly believe that."

Leida said about Diana, “She really is a great show rider. She rides from letter to letter perfectly. Now, we are working on finding more expression in there, where she can gets more points. We train at home to get her horses looking more elastic and easy. I have also noticed with her in these weeks that she really thinks and prepares in there and it’s been really fun to see.”

As a coach, Leida said, “It’s been so fun to teach these riders because they are so completely different and they learn in a completely different way. When I was younger, I believed that everyone had to learn the same way because I was brought up that way. But now, I am more open in my teaching. It’s been fun to learn that one personality learns one way and another a whole different way. I also learn every day.”

"Teaching young people has also helped me with my own kids who want to be high level players in golf. Even though it's a different sport, it also requires a sort of mental thought process and I like being supportive to them because of my own experiences in top sport."

Diana Porsche and Di Sandro

2017 Florida Winter Series Results
Leida Collins- Strijk and West Side
Week #3 Grand Prix 72.800%
Week #5 Grand Prix 75.100%
Week #7 Grand Prix 73.150%
Week #9 Grand Prix 71.650%
Diana Porsche
02/10/2017 Wellington FL FEI Intermediate II 16-25 CDIU25 DI SANDRO 71.447% placing 1st
02/11/2017 Wellington FL FEI Grand Prix 16-25 CDIU25 DI SANDRO 71.535% placing 1st
02/12/2017 Wellington FL FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 CDIU25 DI SANDRO 74.875% placing 1st
3/16/2017 Wellington FL FEI Intermediate II 2017 CDIU 25 DI SANDRO 70.711% placing 2nd
3/18/2017 Wellington FL FEI YR Grand Prix 16-25 2015 CDIU 25 DI SANDRO 71.55% placing 1st
3/19/2017 Wellington FL FEI Freestyle, Grand Prix 2009 CDIU25 73.875% placing 1st
Jade Ellery
24/02/2017 Wellington FL FEI Junior Rider Team CDIJ PORSCHE'S ELOY 71.216% placing 1st
25/02/2017 Wellington FL FEI Junior Rider Individual CDIJ PORSCHE'S ELOY 72.263% placing 1st
26/02/2017 Wellington FL FEI Junior Rider Freestyle CDIJ PORSCHE'S ELOY 75.225% placing 1st
3/17/2017 Wellington FL FEI Junior Team 2017 CDIJ PORSCHE'S ELOY 69.595% placing 1st
3/18/2017 Wellington FL FEI Junior Individual 2017 CDIJ PORSCHE'S ELOY 69.386% placing 1st
3/19/2017 Wellington FL FEI Freestyle Test for Juniors 2009 PORSCHE'S ELOY 73.375% plaicng 1st 

Diana Porsche and Di Sandro

Jade Ellery and Porsche's Eloy

 L-R Lisa Widmayer, Jade Ellery, Vanessa Creech-Terauds, Diana Porsche at the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships