Together with partner Sjaak van der Lei, Jenny Toes is the founder of the business StuDutch. Both of them have had a passion for horses since childhood, but their backgrounds differ. Where Sjaak, as a farmer’s son in Groningen, grew up with horses, Jenny as a ‘town girl’ in Brabant had to initiate things herself. She says of that time: “As an eight-year-old, thanks to my neighbour, I ended up at the local riding school. I was immediately hooked. This was not to my parents’ delight. They would have preferred me to do ballet.”
Nothing could stop her love of horses. The riding school was Jenny’s place. “My parents realised that this was my thing. They saw that it made me happy. When I was eleven, I was given a pony from the riding school and later a bigger pony followed.” Jenny became a member of De Rooise Ponyruiters (De Rooise Pony Club) in Sint-Oedenrode, jumped up to M-level with her D-pony and rode at L2-dressage level. During those years, and later too, she was especially proficient in breaking in horses and ponies. “When I later started earning, I finally had the opportunity to buy myself a good horse. That had to be a mare, as I had always found the breeding-side fantastic.”
The purchased Hilde (Purioso x Farn) turned out to be a hit for both the sport as for breeding. She had already competed at Z-level jumping and Jenny then rode Hilde from B-level to Z-level dressage in just one year. At the age of 28 Jenny gave up her administrative accounting job and started working fulltime with horses. “At the beginning I concentrated on the breeding and on the breaking-in of self-bred horses, later also other people’s horses”. She rode many horses to Z2-level dressage after which they were sold, but she tried to keep the best (brood) mares.
Daughter Noa turned out to have the same passion for horses, right from a young age. It brought about, after all the years, a remarkable reversal. Jenny: “As well as my own competing I really enjoyed experiencing the pony sport with my daughter and my mother helped me with my daughter, in the end she went to the competitions too and even began to enjoy them.”
Nowadays Jenny is the driving force behind the scenes at StuDutch. She concentrates, partly due to her background, on the administration and is especially involved in the dressage branch of the business. “Breeding has always been my passion and dressage in particular. I have a preference for proven blood and will not use a young champion quickly.
I learned my lesson the hard way in the past. The best thing is when you can ride your own-bred horses. That produces the best selection as you yourself know what a good sports horse needs to have. I have ridden many difficult horses and know how simple life can be with good horses.”