Jumping's in their blood

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Sibling rivalry is not a major issue with the Netherlands' Schroeder brothers, Wim and Gerco.

Heck, when asked who is the better show jumping rider, himself or his younger sibling, Wim doesn't hesitate: "It's Gerco."

And Gerco, who at 28 is seven years younger than Wim, doesn't disagree, nodding his head with a quiet smile as he sits beside his brother on the black leather couch in the Spruce Meadows Media Centre, looking out on the prestigious International Ring.

After all, he is fresh off a sixth-place finish in the individual event at last month's world championships in Aachen, Germany, and helped the Dutch team win gold in the Nations' Cup, an event Wim didn't take part in.

Gerco's also the fifth-ranked rider in the world and the highest ranked competitor at Spruce Meadows this week as many of the big names are skipping the Masters this year because the world championships wrapped up on Sunday.

The brothers also agree on what makes a great show jumping horse and look for the same qualities in their mounts.

"We're almost always together when we're checking out horses," said Gerco, the 1996 junior European champion who lives in Lochem. "Normally we buy horses that are a little bit younger, then we build them up to the bigger classes."

Well, Gerco's got himself a couple of pretty good mounts in Eurocommerce Berlin and Eurocommerce Milano.

Milano, which he'll likely ride in Sunday's $1 million CN International Grand Prix, is a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood.

When it comes to being a solid rider, Gerco said there are a couple of musts.

"You need to try to be at one with your horse and ride as good as possible," he said.

It's the third year they've been at Spruce Meadows together, competing for some pretty serious cash.

But there's also another sibling in Wim's twin brother, Ben, who was here in 1999 with Wim.

Horses pretty much run in the family blood as the boys have been around them since they were babies.

"We had a farm at home with cows and everything but we also had some breeding mares, some small ponies. So from there we got into it a little bit more and more and we've been riding since," said Wim, who hopes to do well this week with Eurocommerce Vancouver, a 10-year-old Selle Francais Stallion.


Photos