Ivo Campagne: "I hope, this is truly my deepest wish, that equestrian sports remain as they are now."

Ivo Campagne: "I hope, this is truly my deepest wish, that equestrian sports remain as they are now."

In the world of equestrian sports, horses are the athletes and the main characters. However, before they shine at competitions like the CHIO, many parties are involved behind the scenes. Riders, volunteers, sponsors, and certainly the owners all play a crucial role. Owners who choose passion over profit, cherishing the sport and their horses for the sake of the riders and the country. Therefore, we regularly spotlight one of these dedicated individuals. This time, we spoke with Ivo Campagne, perhaps better known to some as the co-owner of Stoeterij Sterrehof, along with his wife Ellen.

For those unfamiliar with this stud farm located in Nunspeet, in the Veluwe region, Ivo shares: "Stoeterij Sterrehof is a modest but beautiful location where equestrian sports rest on a few key pillars. Firstly, we have a breeding section. We started scaling this down two years ago because we started too late and lack the time to establish a truly distinguished line. Nevertheless, we have produced some fine horses. Secondly, we train young horses. We keep the promising ones from our breeding program and sell the rest for amateur sports. Lastly, we have a trading section on our farm. 

About myself, after finishing high school, I attended the professional training program in Deurne. My parents were not enthusiastic about this, but I was determined. And it worked out! For a few years, I was the youngest instructor in the Netherlands. After my training, I worked in the riding school industry and became the manager of a riding school in North Holland."

Starting his own business in 1973

"In 1973, I started my own riding school in Bilthoven. That's also where I met my wife Ellen. She was a nurse and took over the administration of the riding school. I aimed for quality, and this reflected in our business: small classes and good horses were our standard. After more than 20 successful years, we sold the riding school and moved to the Veluwe. Initially, I wanted nothing more to do with horses, but that didn't last. My wife continued to ride, and gradually, we looked for another home. I wanted to start breeding; it seemed appealing to me. After a few years, we could buy land and decided to give it another go. This project was the beginning of something beautiful. Opium was the next step. We first became co-owners and later bought him entirely. Through him, we connected with Marc Houtzager, leading us to experience competitions and championships worldwide. Stoeterij Sterrehof has now existed for seventeen years. Our business is named after our house in Elspeet; the previous owners called it Sterrehoveke. This became Sterrehof, and given our activities, we added Stoeterij (Stud Farm). As many probably know, we are selling our business and moving into a new phase of our lives. My wife and I want to spend more time together and see more of the world. However, we hope to continue providing Marc and his wife Julia with quality horses."

Since age thirteen at CHIO

"When I was 13, and I’m now 74, I attended CHIO Rotterdam with my father. For years, I went regularly, though starting my own riding school in Bilthoven sometimes prevented me from attending. When Marc began riding our horses, that changed, and I have many fond memories of your competition. Especially in the past, when there were fewer major competitions, CHIO Rotterdam was truly special. It still is. For me, Rotterdam represents nostalgia and a fantastic location. I also think your arena is beautiful, and everything is always well-organized. It's probably not new, but I find the accessibility a hassle. Visiting our horses means almost losing an entire day due to parking. Also, the catering was subpar for a while, but I understand that's being improved."

Sterrehof horses in Kralingse Bos

We asked Ivo which Sterrehof horses have competed in Kralingse Bos. He is modest, but pride is evident in his voice as he responds. Ivo: "Opium, of course, Calimero, Dante, Uppity, Tamino, and several younger horses. If our riders and horses remain healthy, Marc will undoubtedly participate again this year. Julia has also started several Sterrehof horses in Rotterdam, including Pherna, Ushi, Valdato, and Carytano."

Marc and Tamino won the Grand Prix

As mentioned, Ivo and Ellen have experienced much through their horses. We asked about their most memorable moments. Ivo: "The Olympics are the most special. The first were in Hong Kong with Opium, and they were very special. But London was even better. The atmosphere was incredibly good, with a fantastic Dutch bar. What was also great was that everything was within walking distance. The Games in Rio were also beautiful, but I just don't like that country. We also have many wonderful memories of Rotterdam. The highlight was, of course, when Marc and Tamino won the Grand Prix in 2012, but the victories with the team were also very special."

It all started with Opium

"Yes, we have experienced a lot of wonderful things with many amazing horses, but Opium remains our favorite. He has done so much for us and shot to the top out of nowhere, amazing. We always bred at Stoeterij Vosbergen in Heerde, and the Jonkers brothers there had bought Opium as a young horse from Ulrich Kirchoff. When he was about six years old, I was having coffee at Vosbergen and mentioned I would like to participate with such a horse. A year later, the opportunity arose with Opium. Under the condition that he would come to the Netherlands, which was possible. Consequently, we needed a rider for him. I had always admired Marc's riding style; I often saw him riding young horses in Ermelo. I called him, and within half an hour, we had an agreement. Later, we bought the other half of Opium. After ten years of fantastic sport and an equally long pleasant retirement at our stud farm, he unfortunately recently passed away suddenly."

Favorite memories and competitions

We also wondered if Ivo had a favorite competition. He doesn’t. Ivo: "Everywhere has its charm, though there are various competitions that run smoothly and that I enjoy. Den Bosch is simply very nice. Amsterdam is very cozy, and in Rotterdam, I love the nostalgia that characterizes you and the great location. Germany also has many beautiful competitions."

Source: CHIO