The brand-new Zangersheide headquarters is fully operational. The exponential growth of all Z activities necessitated a fair increase in the number of staff members. Service is and remains the Zangersheide pet subject and that implies a personalised approach. That’s why we gladly introduce you to our enthusiastic staff members so that you know who to turn to with all your queries.
For four years now, Emily has been the first point of contact at Zangersheide. First of all, Emily is a studbook staff member but additionally she also is the person to welcome visitors. Anyone with an appointment at the office will be welcomed by Emily, who in her spare time is a keen recreational rider. She sent in a very enthusiastic reaction to the vacancy at Z and she’s happy to be able to work in a horse-related setting. ‘I principally assist in studbook matters and my workplace is at the reception desk. With this set-up we can welcome visitors and at the same time promptly assist them with their requests, something that is much appreciated.’
‘You know what? We have a nice team that works well together with a wide range of tasks.’ This is how Ellen begins, who has already clocked up twenty-five years of service here: ‘I used to ride myself and I was employed with the ABNAmro Bank. Via the then accountant of Zangersheide I ended up here and never left. Earlier we used to be tasked with all sorts of things, but this is no longer possible because of the enormous growth we’ve realised. During the breeding season I’m responsible for dispatching the semen samples and that involves a lot of paperwork. After the breeding season comes the follow-up phase with monitoring pregnancies of the mares.’
German breeders are sent to Nadja with all their queries. Nadja supplies the Z passports for all German foals and that has more or less become a full-time job. ‘German breeders are usually quite faithful to their studbook, but we do notice a trend that ever more German breeders opt for Zangersheide. Breeders can register their foals via our website. We then ask to send a hair sample for DNA testing and a sketch of the foal. This is done by our foal inspectors or the veterinarian.’ It takes five weeks to supply a Z passport. In case this takes longer, it is because the DNA results are delayed’, Nadja knows. Initially Nadja wanted to work with the Z stallions, but since she’s German and Germany is a growth market she was asked to take care of Z Germany. An offer she gladly accepted.
Nina and Nadja are direct colleagues. With Nadja being the point of contact for Germany, Nina takes care of all countries except Germany. Nina has been employed here for one year and she has a background in horses. Then one day she found the job of her life. ‘I was working at a temporary employment agency, came across the vacancy at Zangersheide and decided to apply for the job myself.’ Nina speaks many languages and therefore became our foreign correspondent. She registers the foals that were not born in Dutch or German language regions. From Poland via Canada to the USA, Brazil and Australia. Her international connections also make Nina the obvious person to take charge of the international dispatch of frozen semen.
Sylvia has worked for Zangersheide since 2007. ‘I have three recreational horses, came here through Bianca and instantly liked it here. I always visited the Z events because of the sociable atmosphere and still like the sociability here. After we had all assisted in the dispatching of semen samples during the mornings, I was assigned to the foal registration. Now I’m principally responsible for the DNA checks, which is the last stage before the passport is issued. Earlier we used to be involved in all tasks, but over the last decade Zangersheide has become so large that we were forced to divide the tasks. We work with an App, which veterinarians can use to sketch the foals on their tablets. They collect the hairs and that all lands on my desk. After two to three weeks I receive the DNA results. The number of mistakes is minimal, although it does incidentally happen and then we have to start sorting it all out.’
Sarah came to strengthen the Z team in 2015 and that was really necessary. During the breeding season all employees help with the dispatch of semen samples in the morning, which is a must considering that every day up to 150 deliveries are planned. ‘We are flexible and can be assigned everywhere, depending on the workload. Although I’m also the point of contact for any administrative queries that come in via the studbook email: hair samples that got lost in the post, chip numbers that don’t correspond, wrong names in passports. I try to sort out all those problems.
‘Horses are not a hobby but a passion’, Liesbet laughs. And one special day she found the job of a lifetime and that is at Zangersheide, where she is now employed as a studbook staff member. ‘Only since a few months now. Before this, I worked in professional stables, in the travel sector and as a purchaser for the Government. But my affinity with horses was so strong that when there was a vacancy at Zangersheide I didn’t hesitate. It’s always nicer to work in an environment that you can relate to. How nice is it to be greeted by horses when arriving at work in the morning? During my lunch break I often visit the mares, foals and stallions. Earlier I only knew Taloubet Z and Codex One from television. Now I get to see them in the flesh! It’s fascinating.’ But let’s now talk about her work: ‘Like all other colleagues I help with the dispatching of semen samples in the morning. Apart from that I take care of issuing passports for the, mostly Belgian foals. The breeders register their foals via the website and then I come into action: the official processing of the passport, the follow-up of the foal sketch and the DNA check. Since everything is so professionally and efficiently organised I seldom have direct contact with the breeder. If everything goes smoothly the breeder receives the passport within five to six weeks after the registration. Most questions concern practical arrangements with the foal inspector or the DNA result. It’s all very fascinating and it’s nice to speak to breeders on the phone, because every breeder is happy and delighted with their foal. It’s a very gratifying job.’
Jelle joined Zangersheide early this year and he thoroughly enjoys it: ‘I used to ride nationally and have also worked with horses at for instance, Landgestüt Warendorf. Working with and among horses has always appealed to me most. I own a Z mare and I breed a foal from her every year.
As a studbook employee I assist in the dispatching of semen samples and I accompany breeders who come to view the stallions. For many stallions here at Zangersheide payment of stud services is only payable after one year and the follow-up involved is also part of my job description.
More and more breeders choose a Z stallion. The foal is registered in the Studbook and takes part in the Z-Festival. Maybe it’s going to be auctioned? Or are we going to see it again a few years later, at the Stallion Inspection, the WC Young Horses or during the Z-Tour? Then there’s a fair chance you get in contact with Kristel, Jeroen or Rinus. They are the crew of the Zangersheide accounting department. ‘All doings here at Zangersheide pass through our department’, Rinus smiles, who with his 21 years of service is the most senior person in accounting here. And he too saw how activities increased on all fronts: ‘Everyone with a financially-related question comes to us. With regard to auctions for instance, Z has a mediating function and the integral financial transactions are carried out by us. And that is not always an easy task when we’re dealing with the export of embryos, foals or horses. Governments request various (against payment) health certificates and sometimes we are required to give an explanation.’
Jeroen has worked at the (suppliers and customers) accounts department of Zangersheide for nineteen years. He went to college together with Rinus, each then went their own way and later they became colleagues. ‘A fine story, Rinus and I have known each other for almost thirty years now. I knew the former accountant of Z and when he left I sent in my application. In recent years the workload has considerably increased, hence we are grateful that Kristel has come to strengthen the team. It’s the easy-going, family atmosphere at Z that appeals to me. We are more than just colleagues and that’s definitely the added value of Zangersheide. There’s heaps of work and it doesn’t stop at 17:00hrs or on Friday evening, but we don’t mind at all. Everybody helps each other out and chips in where needed. Customers call me for an explanation about their invoice. Every transaction within Z passes through accounting and there are a lot of transactions. Just think of the tenfold increase in the number of stud services, guest mares that arrive, the growth in the frequency of auctions. We do the accounting for all those transactions.’
Within ten years we have seen a tenfold increase in stud service numbers and all those have to be processed via accounting, which is why Kristel came to strengthen the team: ‘I come from another sector but live in Lanaken, where Zangersheide is a household name. Now I can go to work by bike, so to speak. I work in a wonderful environment with great views of the fields and horses. For all queries concerning invoices people can get in touch with me.’
No other studbook offers more support to breeders than Zangersheide does, as is showcased by the various auctions. Any breeder who seeks logistic support in this context from our Z service is put in contact with Diliana. She answers all your auction-related questions. ‘Breeders who wish to auction off their embryo, foal or horse via our channels come to my desk. We frequently organise selection days where a breeder can, by appointment, enter his foal or horse. Foals have to be Z-registered and must be at least one month old. We also accept horses that are registered with other studbooks, but the breeder/owner has to be a member of Studbook Zangersheide. From every candidate auction horse we require radiographic footage that will be assessed by our veterinarians. This is the phase of the first, veterinary selection. Horses that have been radiographically examined and approved can be presented at one of the selection days. We take pictures and videos of the horse at the halt, in walk, trot and freejumping or under saddle. Then it’s up to the auction committee to decide whether or not the horse will be selected for auction. Once a horse has made it into our collection it will again be clinically examined by our veterinary committee. After this procedure I swing into action again by putting the selected auction horses online on our website in cooperation with our marketing department. The auction then goes ahead and afterwards I’m in charge of managing everything with our accounting department in terms of invoicing and (global) deliveries.’
Last year Zangersheide auctioned about 300 embryos, foals and horses which are all from A to Z guided and steered in the right direction by Diliana, who set her first professional steps on Domain Zangersheide ground fourteen years ago and who has gone through many stages. ‘My childhood was spent among horses, in Nico Nelissen’s yard, who used to work at Zangersheide and was the stable manager of the auction foals during the WC. I used to help him and that’s how I got to know Zangersheide. When a vacancy came up I quickly made up my mind. I started in breeding as an assistant to Frederik Mijten. Subsequently I worked at the stud farm, at the office, in the laboratory and now I’m back in the office as auction coordinator.’
The Breeders’ Sales, a platform where breeders themselves are in charge of selling their horses, is exclusively reserved to Z horses and that process is in good hands with Lise, who over the past two years has had an instructive and well-filled programme in Zangersheide. ‘I come from a horsey family and riding has always been part of my life. So working for Zangersheide is a great opportunity. The first year I worked for the Studbook: processing semen orders, registering foals and checking DNA. I also learnt how things work in the laboratory. From the Studbook I was then relocated to the stud farm where I monitored the (guest) mares for insemination. My development is fairly similar to Diliana’s and now I’m again following in her footsteps. First I assisted her with the Breeders’ Sales, now that this project has become so successful the responsibility has been transferred to me.
Last year was the first time I was assigned to the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses where I was responsible for the VIP and currently I’m helping Bianca with the organisation of the Z-Tour. In other words, I'm pretty multi-functional ‘laughs).’
The name Bianca will probably not ring a bell with the breeders. For the riders she is the contact point at Z events. Bianca has worked at Zangersheide for twenty-four years and she started off as the coffee lady. ‘That’s exactly how things took off. The boss’s secretary was looking for a coffee lady and I got the job, as the secretary's secretary.’ But it didn’t take long for the people at Zangersheide to discover that Bianca harboured many talents and she was given the chance to develop her talents. Nowadays, Bianca is coordinator of the Z-Magazine and the Z events like the Z-Tour and the World Breeding Championship.
Floris is the stud farm manager. He is an experienced and seasoned breeder himself and in the past was, for example, a Jury member during the Z-Festival in Belgium and the Netherlands. There he caught the attention with his expert assessment of the foals. So much so that he was asked by Zangersheide to manage the breeding stud in Lanaken. Which he does with the assistance of a large team: with Sofie, Kato, Matti, Michael, Daniel, Jonathan and Kristof. And all those people are necessary. The breeding stud in Zangersheide involves two departments: Judy Ann Melchior herself breeds between thirty and forty foals per year and all those fall under the responsibility of Floris and his team. ‘From the insemination via weaning and raising the young stock until they’re around three years old. On top of that we also manage the integral process of the hundreds of guest mares that come to Zangersheide to be serviced by our stud stallions. We are happy to talk to the breeders about the evolution of their mare. Good and timely information is what breeders need, so we set great store by that. Being a breeder myself I know how important that is.
My own breeding programme started in the early 80s with an Almé Z mare that I bought at Zangersheide. My connection and link with Zangersheide go back a long time. And up till today Z is and remains innovative and forward-thinking. It was so back in the day and it’s no different now. Again and again Z succeeds in getting the better-quality young stallions to Lanaken.
Indra is a rider, studied biotechnology and is the Zangersheide lab technician, so she combines her hobby with her profession. Indra prepares the semen for dispatch and that is preceded by some legal arrangements. Like frequent monitoring of the stallion and his semen for transmittable diseases. And those tests vary per country of destination. ‘Every morning I get the orders for the day from the studbook staff members and then it’s my job to arrange the stud services in line with the demand. Next is the microscopic lab work: checking the amount, quality and concentration of the semen. On the basis of those data the number of samples are prepared. During the stud season my day begins around 05:15hrs and by 10:00hrs the samples are ready for delivery or to be picked up.’ The reservations are an indication of how busy things can get. On a pretty full day up to twenty-eight stallions are called in for stud services. ‘It’s important to know the stallions. Not every stallion can perform stud services every day. Some stallions are quicker than others. So you really need to know who can perform what and when. It’s a fascinating job, I see the semen under the microscope, put it in a straw and a year later you have a foal. It’s a miracle, don’t you think?’
Since early this year the Zangersheide stud stallions have had a new boss: Karen from South Africa. Although boss is not quite the right word. What about butler? No, not really. Then what? Diplomat. That’s her greatest characteristic, because the thirty stud stallions at Zangersheide need a diplomatic approach and have to be treated accordingly. For the stud stallions the day begins with a bespoke breakfast, after that it’s Jeroen’s job to manage the process of semen collection. Around 10:00hrs Karen and her team consisting of Robin, Daisy, Franci and Chloë take charge of the stallions again: ‘We look after the stallions’ wellbeing, we want them to be healthy and happy. That means we make sure they get a varied programme every day. They are turned out in the paddock and the field and that in itself takes some major organising. We adjust ourselves to the individual stallions and respect their personalities and their place in the hierarchy. Evidently, there are a few dominant specimen among them’, Karen laughs, and that’s something to take into account: ‘Who wants to be the first to do stud service? Who wants to be the first in the field, the paddock or horse walker? Which ones get on well together? These are all unwritten rules which we respect to do justice to every stallion, and that requires a lot of planning. We differentiate between young and older stallions. The young ones are also kept in condition with under-saddle work because they are relocated to sport stables, like Christian Ahlmann’s, after the stud season. Every horse gets three meals a day, a tailor-made diet for every individual horse. Yes, we pamper them, but they deserve it. What I greatly value at Zangersheide is how they make no distinction between stallions. Some of them are really old, like Candillo Z who is 29. They are no longer doing active stud service but still receive the same service as all the others. They frequently get a chance to enjoy the delicious warmth of the solarium. Some of our oldies are real beach boys’, Karen laughs, who has a past working with stud stallions. She has worked at various foreign stallion stations, some of them renowned racing stables. Karen’s eldest daughter is an international rider and when she moved to Belgium, Karen followed her and was given the chance to become Stallion Manager at Zangersheide. ‘A wonderful opportunity which I seized with both hands.’
With 23 years Jeroen has a long service record at Zangersheide. He started off in the breeding department. These days his mornings are occupied by the stallions, in the afternoons the foals require his attention. Jeroen is responsible for the semen collecting, he escorts the stallions to the phantom mare when they have to perform their stud duty. So he is the one who knows the Zangersheide stud stallions in all their masculinity. ‘I need to know and judge their character and personality. Although the stallions are quite pleased to see me, Jeroen smiles: ‘They know their job and know what’s expected of them. Nature takes care of that.’ May and June are the busiest months for Jeroen. Then the working day for him and the stallions begins at 05:30hrs. In the afternoons Jeroen is out on the road to sketch foals.