The love for horses was instilled in showjumper Willem Greve from a young age. “Very young!” he says laughing, when we ask him how old he was when he started riding horses. “When I was about three years old, I was already sitting in front of my father on the saddle and at a very young age, there was already a pony. My parents had a horse clinic at home, and I have always been passionate about being around the stables.”
In 1995, Willem achieved a fifth place at the European Pony Jumping Championship in Achselschwang (DE), which was soon followed by several successful European and Dutch Championships. In 2009, he won his first Nations Cup in Copenhagen with Perpetua. With young show jumping horses, Greve has also achieved great success under his name: in 2008, he won silver with the 7-year-old Uceline, in 2016, he became world champion with his 5-year-old Garant and placed fourth with the 6-year-old Formidable. But when it comes to competitions, one of the results he is most proud of is his participation in the Olympic Games with Zypria S N.O.P. in Tokyo (2021), where he earned a fourth place with the national team.
“I used to be very fond of horse racing. When I was a young kid, I always sat on the horse like a jockey, but there was no future for that in the Netherlands, so I switched to show jumping,” Greve says about his choice for the sport’s discipline. After earning his points in dressage, as was required in the past, he made the switch to show jumping, in which he has “always been motivated”. After finishing school, Greve started working for Henk Nooren at the age of 18. “I have seen and learned a lot from my time working at Henk’s stables. I wouldn’t call it work, actually. This is my passion, and I enjoy doing it, so it’s not a ‘job’ for me at all.”
Greve doesn’t just derive satisfaction from riding at a top level. The process of training horses in top sports and the combination with trade is what appeals to him. “I don’t have to ride in a big competition every week. It’s fun for me to work with a horse and train young horses and everything that comes with it,” he says. “You try to train a horse, and if you can compete at top level with a horse like Carambole or Grandorado, it’s very satisfying. But if you sell a horse during the process and the new owners do well with it and are happy, that also gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
One horse that played an important role in Willem Greve’s career is the stallion Carambole. The duo won several Nations Cups together and repeatedly reached the highest podium at competitions such as Jumping Amsterdam, Indoor Brabant, and international shows in Copenhagen, Barcelona, Neumünster, and Knokke just to name a few. “Carambole has taken me where I dreamed of as a young boy,” Greve says. “He has taken me to places where I would never have gone without him, and he has also made me a better rider. I learned so much from him and am very grateful to him.”
In 2016, Carambole suffered an injury in Aachen. A few years later, in 2019, he was able to start again in Aachen, where he jumped “extremely well,” according to Willem. “He showed the whole world once again how good he is.” For Willem, the icing on the cake of Carambole’s great career was when he won the Super League final in Barcelona in 2021. “How well he jumped at the age of 17 and the way he performed the course, I have the feeling that Carambole had to seize this opportunity to show his qualities to the whole world once again. That’s why I also decided it would be his last round, and we haven’t regretted it for a second,” says Willem. At Jumping Amsterdam last January, Carambole said goodbye to the sport. “He deserved a podium like the one in Amsterdam and received a very nice farewell in January,” Willem says. A very special moment, where not only the stallion but also his team was put in the spotlight: “The grooms were all there, the owners, the farrier, the veterinarian, everyone who played a role behind the scenes in Carambole’s success was there. They also deserve that honour. Ultimately, I was the one to ride the round with him in the ring, but I wouldn’t have been able to do that without any of these people.”
At the moment, Grandorado TN N.O.P. is one of Greve’s absolute top horses. The stallion was purchased when he was 3.5 years old, and Willem was glad that he could buy the young performance champion at a young age. “Grandorado has always been an extremely talented horse,” Willem says. Riding a much-discussed stallion can bring a lot of expectations from the outside world. According to Willem, he has certainly lived up to them: “He had a great year last year and is also doing very well in breeding.” The big goal together is the Olympic Games in Paris. “That’s close but far away. That’s the dot on the horizon!”
In the summer of 2022, Willem suffered a major setback: he broke both his ankle and upper arm in a fall from a horse. He missed the World Championships as a result. That was not an easy time for Willem, but he also realized that he had to move on despite his disappointment. “As in any profession, there will always be something that you have to endure. My injury was a very tough pill to swallow, and I was really sick from it, but at some point, you have to move on.” In addition, Willem is incredibly happy and grateful for the team he has been able to build around him in his years in the sport. “I have been able to surround myself with fantastic people and owners. That is a very good foundation to fall back on. I am independent, with good people around me. That is a very comforting feeling.” The people he deals with and works with give the showjumper a lot of positive energy to get the best out of himself and from the horses. “Having the right people around you is everything,” Willem concludes.
The well-being of the horse has always been the most important thing to the Dutch showjumper. This is reflected in his training, where he focuses a lot on repetition and fine-tuning, “doing, doing, doing, and repeating, repeating, repeating,” as he describes it. Well-being also plays a major role in other aspects. “My horse trucks are always very practically designed,” says Willem. The most important aspect for him is the comfort of the horses and his grooms, as well as the reliability of the vehicle. “The Roelofsen trucks are really just top quality. I once bought a second-hand Roelofsen and after that, I never went anywhere else.”
For this 2023, Willem hopes his Roelofsen wheels will take him to Milan, where the European Championships will take place at the end of the summer. “We will of course continue to try to compete and carry on as we always do,” he concludes.