Holland To Wellington

Holland To Wellington
Show Mom Patricia Bade Van Motman Is Passing Down What She Learned To The Next Generation

By Olivia Airhart

Growing up in a horse family is like being raised with communal parenting; instead of one mother raising her child, every pony in the barn gets a chance to impart life lessons. Growing up as a rider in a horse-centric family means being raised by your toughest critic, but also your biggest fan and supporter.

In a realm where the horse bug is passed down from generation to generation, life-long equestrian and now second-generation horse show mom Patricia Bade van Motman has made it her life’s mission to not only raise her daughter by the ways of the barn, but also give equestrians all across Europe the same opportunities by founding an educational hunter and equitation organization, HJE Holland.

Originally from Westchester, New York, Bade van Motman grew up on the back of a horse. In her words, it all started when “my dad married my mother and her horse.” Bade van Motman had the horse hook deep in her soul, devoting herself to the cause not just as a hobby, but as a way of life that would end up coming back to her full circle.

“My poor mother drove the family station wagon and our trailer to any pony club event or horse show I wanted to go to,” Bade van Motman recalled. “So, when I had a daughter of my own, I knew that I would raise her the same way my mother raised me — in the saddle.”

After moving to The Netherlands and having her daughter Candice, Patricia was eager to share her love of horses, so she did as any horse mom would do and bought Candice her first pony at just three years old.

“When Candice was old enough to actually ride and not just go around on the leadline, one pony grew to five with 15 little kids riding with Candice at our home. I studied the full set of USPC [United States Pony Club] manuals to do my best at teaching all those children, and we ended up having a homegrown pony club right in our backyard,” Patricia recalled. “Once Candice was six, we also started hunting together. I would go out on my 17.3-hand horse, and she would gallop ahead of me at the very end of the leadline on her 11-hand pony. I thought my arm would eventually grow in length trying to hang onto her as she kicked that pony along faster than my horse! When she was old enough to do it on her own, she would gallop ahead of these experienced men and their massive hunt horses and out-jump them over every single hedge on her tiny little ponies.”

Pony after pony, Patricia watched Candice develop into an incredible young rider.

“She just had that calming nature about her and determination to figure out how they ticked,” Patricia said. “Being trained in the American style of riding in the hunter and equitation rings myself, taking my child to horse shows in Holland where the sole objective is to win at all costs in a speed-based jumping competition, I saw a risk to child safety and a lot of undue stress placed on the ponies that, as an equestrian myself, made me really upset and frustrated.”

As the demand for Patricia’s training grew larger, she knew she had to enlist some extra hands.

“If you want kids to learn to spell, entice them by making it a spelling bee,” Patricia said. “I wanted to create the infrastructure for the young riders back in Holland, so they could learn to ride responsibly. I made my mission to make equitation fun and enjoyable, but also educational, so they would be able to carry those skills on in their toolbox for any ring they enter.”

When Patricia finally put a stake in the ground and committed to starting HJE Holland, a wise American horseman told her to “call Joanie.”

Little did Patricia know that “Joanie” was none other than Joan Scharffenberger-Laarakkers, a 10-year veteran of the USET, winner at Aachen and countless Grand Prix and Nations Cup events, as well as championing the equitation medal finals in her youth.

“From that day forward, Joan has been a devoted trainer, clinician and vice president of HJEH,” Patricia said. “Thankfully, Joan is now the primary trainer for Candice, as her abilities have progressed beyond my scope in the jumper arena.”

With a dream to build a foundation for proper technical riding that was available to children and adults alike of any socioeconomic background, Patricia gathered seven of her equestrian colleagues and flew here to Wellington.

“For you to put your shoulder to the wheel, you must see Valhalla,” Patricia said. “So, I organized a group of dedicated horsewomen who felt the same way I did about the lack of options for training in Holland to participate in a United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) judge training course. We were absolutely blown away by what we saw and experienced at WEF in Wellington. From the grandeur of the hunter derbies to the extensive offering of equitation classes, including the 50-plus divisions and the awesome tiny equestrians at Pony Island, my team was solidified on that one trip alone, and that is how Hunter Jumper Equitation Holland got started. In a country where practicality trumps passion projects, I knew I had to pull out all the stops to convince the Dutch public to try something new, and Wellington sealed the deal.”

Thanks to a collegial request from Joan, Candice was invited for an 11-week internship with Andre Dignelli at Heritage Farm in the fall of 2021. Candice experienced first-hand why Andre and his students are so successful. The attention to every detail of equitation training made an impression on the young pupil.

“She is so grateful for the opportunity, and I was impressed with the progress in her riding in such a short amount of time,” Patricia said. “Since then, her commitment has grown even stronger. The way in which you address riding and horses is similar to how you address life. You overcome fears, you laugh a lot, learn to control your temper, master the art of patience, always show kindness and learn how to work collaboratively in a group dynamic. I was able to not only teach my daughter all of these life lessons but watch her experience them for herself developing as a rider and avid equestrian.”

The bond Patricia formed with her daughter over horses sparked a flame in the passionate equestrian’s core to not only be the best mother to her daughter, but step into the role of horse show mom for any and all equestrians, young and old, in The Netherlands. Just like her mother before her, Patricia Bade van Motman has earned the title and continues to pass down the equestrian lineage to the next generation.