Horses at the heart of his world

Horses at the heart of his world

Horses at the Heart of his World Jesper Romp’s life has always been all about horses, so it’s hardly surprising at 24 he has ventured out into a business that has at its heart, the welfare of the horse.

The young Dutchman is at Takapoto Estate Show Jumping ensuring his newly-installed APL Sand Arena is absolutely perfect for each and every horse that enters it. His relationship with the event started in 2018 when Kerry Willetts was searching the world for the best to assist with the new arena at the estate. Jesper and his business partner had not long gone full time into creating arenas in The Netherlands.

“He asked us if we could come and make the arena and we did,” said Jesper. Kerry bought the geopad underlay and fibrefrom Jesper through his V&R Equestrian Footings company and had it shipped to New Zealand. Kerry was then tasked with finding a sand as close to what Jesper uses in The Netherlands to complete the mix.

“You need to have good products and the right mix for it all to come together, and then the maintenance during the show is so important. People think they put it down and it isalright but that is not how it works,” says Jesper. “If the weather changes, the sand changes too –it keeps you busy.”

He visited in January to get the arena down and is back for the show, with he and Kerry grooming the 70m x 40m arena after every 30 horses. “The horse welfare is so important. In Europe horses are 16 or 17 years old and still competing at 1.6m level –the footing is the secret.”

The ebb and flow system means the arena is watered from beneath. Nearby three 30,000 litre tanks catch rainwater to be recycled and used on the arena when needed. There are pumps and sensors throughout it.

“I am very happy with it,” says Jesper. “I hope the riders are as well. It is new now and the longer it is in, the better it will get.”Kerry will continue to give the arena the attention it needs long after Jesper returns to Europe and says they will be looking to make similar arenas available for sale. Next to be revamped at Takapoto Estate will be the large sand arena.

Jesper is son of the late Bert Romp –atwo-timeOlympic athlete, Olympic chef d’equipe, national coach and member of the Dutch team to win the silver medal at the 1997 European Championships. Jesper and his brothers rode at top national level – Jesper representing his nation at junior and young rider level.

“I still like it (showjumping) but more as a hobby . . . I prefer this,” he says. “My friend has 25 years’ experience of this and I have the experience of riding, so we are a good match.”He says he is enjoying his New Zealand visit. “It is very different to Europe here,” says Jesper. “In Europe the quality of horse and rider is better but here, the people really enjoy the sport. They do it as a hobby. Even if they have three rails down, they are happy. I think that is a good thing.”