Sonja van der Berg works with horses 24/7

Sonja van der Berg and her daughter Shanna in their element: Among the horses, on the Schoterpad. Harry the knight’s photo

Pant – She wasn’t born with the equine world, but Sonya van der Berg (43) has been a real horse girl since she was eight years old. Since last April, she’s been running her own stable, Velvet Stables, on Schoterpad. Kuinderbos is her backyard. I take charge of 46 horses, that’s a thing. Horses never let you go.

After another busy day, I exploded in the March sun. The sports cum businessman has all the time, or rather: he takes all the time. After the countless race, there is plenty to do when you return to the five-hectare site, but the daily worry you will have to wait a while. Sometimes I wonder: Why do I like this? This morning the alarm went off at five o’clock. I had to be in Tolbert by eight in the morning. Traveling, feeding the horses, preparing them for riding: all this takes a long time. Sometimes you have to go out at night. I am there 24/7. Horses are my passion.

This is also necessary, says the born Frisian, otherwise it cannot be tolerated. Which might help: She’s an entrepreneur through and through. She was co-owner of the multi-gym, which later became Optima Forma. She then rented a smaller stable than the current stable at Lemmer and now Sonja van der Berg has been owner of the Velvet Stables for a little over a year, which makes room for over thirty horses indoors. She manages thirteen jumpers. Owners trust Van der Berg makes their horses better and more valuable by training more and participating in competitions.

worth the money

“This is their goal: the horse should become worth more and more money,” says van der Berg. If the horse is at a certain level, they get rid of the animal. This level can be very different, from L-class to international. And strive some owners of their horse to achieve the datum sports. If they start to breed with her, the foals are worth more. Among its customers are also foreigners, such as the Chinese and Russians. Fortunately, this Russian got rid of his horse before the outbreak of war in Ukraine. If there was a Russian on the doorstep now, I wouldn’t. And I’m not saying: I’ll never do it again.

Sonja van der Berg has been involved in horse breeding for 35 years. At the age of eight she ended up on the De Groot family farm in Boelenslaan, a village above Drachten. From that moment on, the gate was outside the dam and the horses were before and the horses after. “They had all kinds of things on that farm: donkeys, ponies, horses, llamas,” van der Berg says. I wasn’t a fan of horses at first, but I had every opportunity to develop myself on the farm. They led me to competitions and much more. In fact they arranged everything for me. Of course that helped me a lot. I stayed there until I was sixteen.

make saddle

Deurne’s dressage training was a logical next step, but family circumstances threw a wrench in the works. Sonia van der Berg studied Commerce and Management. She did not like it very much, but she finished training. In the meantime, she has remained active in the equine world. Small horses encouraged. I did it with the people on the site, at first even for nothing! She moved to Emmeloord, had her own horse with Huib Crebas and ended up in the stable in Lemmer. Always working with horses. Daughter Shana (15) also became addicted to horses by her mother.

“Shana is very talented,” it sounds proud. She has a natural horse feel. I qualified for Jumping Amsterdam, but unfortunately this competition has been cancelled. When a mother smashed her wrist in December in a nasty fall, she could have held back her daughter. I have thirteen paying clients to train their horses. Shana can ride all horses, so she took the reins from me for a while. This is nice of course. Jumping Amsterdam mentions Van der Berg as one of the competitions you want to perform. This is not always the case.

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“With so many horses, you often win prizes, low or high. But you can’t do the best every week. After all, you work with the horses somewhere. At Tolbert, for example, practice is more important than winning. I only ride big races to win You want to perform in Jumping Amsterdam This is good for trading and you want to measure yourself against others Winning is good for you, fun for the owners and a good advertisement for my company You train hard with the horses every day so it’s good to get something.

To achieve this, you have to work hard. No problem for Sonja van der Berg, she loves horses. Each of them has its own character. They are just like people, you have to treat them all differently. You have to keep stallions under control, and other horses you have to handle with velvet gloves. I really enjoy getting to know the horses and getting the best out of them.

harry the knight

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