‘We are doing it for the Friesian horse of today and the future’

She joined the decimated KFPS Board last spring and she is set to replace interim Chairman Detlef Elling in November. Tineke Schokker, a very experienced manager, who took her farewell as mayor of Vlieland in May. ‘If I can in any way help steer things into the right direction then it’s a pleasure to do so. That inspires me.’

Grown up in Friesland and groomed to become a teacher, Tineke Schokker gradually evolved to an experienced executive in the course of her career. During her teaching time at Stenden Hogeschool in Leeuwarden she was asked in 1999 to become a member of the Provincial States of Friesland on behalf of the CDA (Dutch political party, ed.) ‘I first had to give it some thought,’ Tineke says. ‘The work at Stenden was great and there would no longer be time for horseback riding.’ In the end she agreed to it. ‘It means you can pull many strings and really achieve something because you have that kind of influence.’ In 2007 she became a member of the Provincial States of Friesland and eight years later she moved to Vlieland for the position of interim Mayor. ‘The move meant living on the island and my husband Lou would remain on the mainland in Eastermar. I’m crazy about the Wadden Sea and was very willing to do something for it. And anyway, it was only for two years. We thought we could easily tackle that.’

New challenge

Those two years ultimately turned into six years. ‘At one given moment I had the opportunity to become Mayor of Vlieland and I took it. That is a 6-year appointment. But then the Corona virus hit us and I got completely stuck on the island and couldn’t leave to see Lou, the children and grandchildren. I hugely missed everyone back home and that feeling kept getting stronger. In a situation like that I’m pretty straightforward and make up my mind.’ So in May the 69-year-old Tineke handed back her mandate as Mayor and that opened up windows for new challenges. Like the function of KFPS Chairwoman which she is going to take over from interim Chairman Detlef Elling in November. The fact that the KFPS was braving turbulent times did not discourage Tineke from wanting to adopt the role of Chairwoman. ‘I quite like a challenge. I’m not looking for something where everything is already in tip-top order, then I get bored and make a nuisance of myself. If I can be a contributing factor in steering things back into the right direction for the Studbook, it will be a pleasure to do so. I see it as a challenge.’

A challenging horse

Tineke Schokker is an amenable manager, down-to-earth and definitely has a great love of horses. She grew up on the outskirts of Leeuwarden where she enjoyed both the urban as well as the rural setting. ‘The space, the vastness and the freedom, I so much enjoy it.’ Her parents had nothing with horses: they considered them terribly dangerous animals. Still, Tineke started horse-riding when she was fifteen. ‘I had saved up money for twenty riding lessons at the children’s farm in Leeuwarden. When I moved to Tytsjerk for my first job a local farmer allowed me to ride one of his KWPN broodmares. That mare challenged me to my limits. An old-fashioned type with a wooden mouth. She bucked until she had thrown me off again or took off with me. A good thing my parents never knew. In spite of her not being so easy I still got attached to her and we developed a special bond. In the long run I started riding competitions with her. There I met Lou, who was a ring steward.’ For years, Tineke and her husband have been breeding with KWPN mares from the same mare line. ‘Presently we own eight horses. For us it’s a hobby and it’s so much fun.’

Winning the Jackpot

Although at some point she worked as a General Manager at the former Fries Paarden Centrum for two years and used to own several Friesian horses, right now Tineke doesn’t own a Friesian. If she will in the short run, is not so sure. ‘We’re still pondering over it, because if, where to go to buy one? Before you know it I lose my independence, which is so important for a chairman. Integrity also includes avoiding the appearance of dependence. We haven’t yet decided, but right now I wouldn’t think of buying a Friesian: I would have to win the Jackpot first.’ The Friesian breed always meant a lot to Tineke. ‘When I see a Friesian I think ‘yes’, that has originated here from Friesland and that fills me with pride. What I really admire is how the Studbook has achieved such a great improvement of the Friesian breed within such a short time span. In former times the breed used to have an impressive front, but hardly any loins and the mid -section more or less dangled between forehand and hindquarters. I think it’s an incredible achievement that the topline has become so much stronger, since there is only a very narrow pool of genes to tap into.’


Seeing ‘so much distress’ within the Studbook in the last year was a great concern for Tineke. ‘A studbook with such a long history that has accomplished so much, and then watching it implode was awful. It’s not a big deal when people disagree and feelings run high, as long as we stay respectful and it all rises from a passion for the Friesian horse.’ Answering the question as to what surprised her most about the outcome of the Governance investigation commissioned by the KFPS, Tineke resolutely answers: ‘Nothing! Basically it’s always the same in matters like this. When it comes down to it everybody knows how to do it right, but still things often go wrong anyway. Like something as self-evident as communication. We can give people a chance to have their say but actually without giving it any more status than window-dressing, or alternatively, the Board can also ask for genuine input and take it seriously. Personally, that is of great importance to me. Knowhow and experience is everywhere to be found. The challenge is how to use it as best we can for the Studbook. That means we have to truly listen and consider anyone’s input as much as we can.’

Shared passion

Having said that the Board has to listen very seriously to what is going on in the Studbook does however, not mean that the Board has to follow up on everything that is being said, Tineke explains. ‘The Board should not be seen as a grocery store where people can hand in their shopping list. That’s not the way it works. The Board has to make more weighty decisions than the individual bodies we communicate with .’ In addition to open and clear communications Tineke has set herself the goal ‘that everyone within the Studbook should feel safe again. I have a deep respect for the people at the office and our Jury members. They have always shown a continuous commitment for the Studbook. The fact that Jury members are treated unfairly is inacceptable. I do understand that it can be difficult sometimes for owners when they think their horse has received a lower assessment than expected. That however, never justifies offending Jury members. It’s the responsibility of the Board to call these people to account. If we realise that we all share the same passion, then it’s easier to keep communications open. We should not forget that we are doing it for the Friesian horse of today and the future.’


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