Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at both shows and at home? Our interview series is all about catching up with various individuals in this exciting sport and getting the low down on their lives. The ups, the downs, and everything in between!
This weeks interview comes to you from none other than Derin Demirsoy! We were going to label this as part of our '10 Questions' series but, lucky for us, Derin didn't really read through the instructions and answered every single question we sent him so, here goes!
Tell us about your earliest memories of the sport...
I started riding when I was three and a half years old, back home in Istanbul, Turkey. My parents took me to a pony club in the city and introduced me to the world of horses. The only thing I clearly remember was that I was quite afraid of them!!
Tell us about your first pony...
My first pony was called Teddy, he was a Haflinger. We would have Dressage competitions and he would jump out of the arena to the side gates and I would have to pull him back in. Once I was even given the strongest Rider award at a dressage class!! (#overachiever)
How do you handle the pressure associated with the sport?
I try to make a good plan both long-term and short-term so that I can eliminate uncertainties as much as I can. (Uncertainty is the main cause of pressure/stress in my case.) I feel like that clears my mind and helps me focus on the job at hand. I am lucky to be surrounded by a great team which helps take some of the pressure off of my shoulders.
What do you love about your job?
I love working with animals. I see the horses as my family, especially the ones that have been with me for longer and also others who really formed a connection with me, my team and my family. I feel like that connection is what makes the difference at the end of the day. I really enjoy even just spending some quality time with them and seeing how they develop and progress throughout the years from Young Horses to hopefully Grand Prix horses. I would say seeing their progress and being a part of it is one of the most exciting and rewarding things of the sport
What do you like least about your job?
Watching Julien Epillard go very fast in a speed class/jump off that you are also in and knowing you have no chance to beat him!!
What do you do to unwind or relax?
I really enjoy playing golf. It clears my mind a lot, especially in times of stress. If I don’t have time to go golfing I like to listen to audiobooks.
What horses are on your team this season?
There is Koblenz who has stepped up to the 4* GP level this year. He is a horse we invested in together with Jos Lansink as a young horse. It has been amazing to see his development into a great GP horse. Then there's Hunter, who has managed to steal the hearts of everyone around him and become the favourite. He turned 8 this year and has stepped up to the ranking classes very successfully. We got him as a 5 year old and it is an incredible feeling to be a part of his progress the last 3 years and I am sure there is a lot more to come!
Then there's the one and only Dadjak, who turns 17 this year but is as fit and happy as ever. He's one of the Kindest, most caring horses I have ever met. Loves going to shows and going fast, especially on the big grass fields! There is a new addition to our team. 8 year old Caprice d’Elle. Owned by Carpe Diem Equestrian. We are a new combination but the future with him looks very promising. Next, Scenorrado (Sunny) is our 7 year old future star. We got him as a green 5 year old and he has and still is developing into one of the best young horses.
The rest of our team consists of very promising either green or younger horses owned by Demirsoy Equestrian and Carpe Didm Equestrian Team. Our goal is to keep producing very good quality young horses for both the sport and the business.
Talk us through your program
After the corona break we started with shows close to home such as Sentower and Peelbergen. I have a week in St Tropez 4* planned in September and then we are off to Sunshine Tour and Vilamoura to build up my string and hopefully get some good results with the more experienced ones. Looking forward to it !
Do you have a coach you work with at home?
Currently I get help from Jos Lansink and Vincent Voorn. I like to learn and keep developing myself so I find it crucial to surround myself with people of great knowledge.
Tell us a bit about the larger support team you work with
My family has been and still is my biggest support building up my career and company in the equestrian world throughout the years. Beko has been my main sponsor for over a decade and thanks to their continued support we have had many successes. A few months ago we started working with Carpe Diem Equestrian Team. Hopefully we can accomplish great things together!
My great grooms Romy and Sofia keep our horses in the happiest and healthiest shape. Our vet Philippe Heiles and Clinique Equine des Bréviaires have been keeping our horses healthy and sound for the last decade. Same goes for our farrier Yves Joosen and his team.
It is crucial to have the best support team and I am very grateful for all their work. I have also been a part of the Rolex Young Riders Academy, I graduated together with Jack in 2016. Ever since the first day, the academy has also been very supportive to me in many ways
Who do you admire in the sport? Who has been an inspiration to you?
Ludger has been my idol since I was very young. I admire how precise he is with his work (on and off of the horse) and the fact that he runs a huge stable/operation with multiple top riders and competes in the top level. I have been lucky enough to train with great equestrians such as Jos Lansink, Henk Nooren, Bert Romp, Vincent Voorn and I can say that they have all been an inspiration in my career.
What has the sport taught you about life?
One of the most important things sport taught me is to be patient. To keep doing the right thing day in day out and that good things happen as a result of that. It also taught me the importance of time management and planning.
Are there any key lessons you’d like to share with us? (Pre/post Covid)
During the Covid break it was difficult to set the short term goals in terms of the sport because there were no competitions or nothing to prepare for in the upcoming weeks. So that, in turn, taught me the importance of taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, long-term goals. The high intensity lifestyle that we live in with shows every week in different countries sometimes makes us forget that it’s good to sometimes take a step back and look at the bigger picture, regroup and take a second to appreciate all that is happening.
Do you believe attitude is a key factor/motivation for longevity in the sport?
I believe attitude is the most important factor in the longevity of success in any sport, especially in the highest level. I try to keep positive attitude and try to learn from my mistakes and develop myself in my horses every day.
Do you start the year with a plan or campaign? How has COVID affected this?
We started the year off in Spain, Oliva and Sunshine Tour. We built our younger, less experienced horse up to the Grand Prix level and had an amazing couple of weeks of shows exceeding nearly all of our goals. We were very ready for a strong season this year and then the corona break happened. We’re happy to be back showing again takes a bit of time to get back into that rhythm for both me and my horses. But we are on the right track!
Tell us about the horse/pony that taught you the most
I was lucky enough to have A few horses in my life that taught me a lot. Starting in my junior years, my horse Surprise gave me the comfort of jumping the height and being competitive. Winning multiple international Junior GPs. Then more experienced Madick went on to win the individual silver medal at the European junior championship in 2011 which was an unforgettable experience and a major stepping stone in my career.
However, If I had to choose one who made the biggest difference in my career and in my life, it would be Harry K. We competed in the top level with Harry for 7,5 years achieving way more than what we set up for in the first place. From winning GPs, World Cups, Nations Cups to jumping clear in the most prestigious 5* GPs, championships and many more unforgettable experiences. Harry has thought me over the years that once you start giving it your 150%, dreams do come true. And that yo me has been one of the most important life lessons.
If you could ride any horse in the world, who would it be?
I would love to ride Explosion
What's your greatest strength?
Patience and Positive mindset
How about your greatest weakness?
Wanting to have Control - The equestrian sport, working with animals, teaches you from day one that you cannot have control over everything. Even if you think all is under control, it’s not!
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Nourish your hopes, but do not overlook realities.
Green Book / Whiplash
Song of the moment?
Holy Grail & Forever Young - Jay Z
Where is the Love- Black Eyed Peas
what’s your idea of a relaxing day/night?
My idea of a relaxing day is mostly on the golf course. I also love playing basketball so if its not on the golf course then I’m on the basketball court.
A relaxing night would be at home with a fun movie and some take out food.
If you could pick another sport, what would it be?
Definitely golf. I’ve played golf for as long as I can remember. It is one of the most difficult sports in many ways. It requires such control of your mind and body that it fascinates and frustrates me every time. I love it!
What are your long term plans?
Success in the sport, championships etc. Successful business with great horses and a great team.
And your short term plans?
Produce my younger horses to the high sport and hopefully get a few good placings with my more experienced ones. End 2020 the best way possible way.
And finally, any last words of wisdom for us about the difficulties this year brought a lot of people in the sport?
Although 2020 hasn’t been a good year for the world in general, I have been lucky enough to be presented with great opportunities for my career and business. During the break, We’ve all had more time to really go back to the basics and build up from there with our young horses and even our older ones. With the tight competition schedule, I feel like sometimes these basics are easily overlooked. The break has also been good to spend more time on myself and my physical health. With the spare time in hand, I tried to do some yoga, pilates (at home due to the pandemic) and running to keep fit and healthy. Although these are very difficult times for everyone around the world, just like most of the times, I try to stay positive and make the most out of the hand that we’ve been dealt.
Thank you, Derin, for taking the time to speak to us!
Keep an eye on our website and social media pages for several more interviews which will be published in the next few days!
Anyone interested in featuring in our interview series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org