From the prestigious Stal Wilten grounds in Nieuwleusen, a small town in Overijissel, emerges an 11-year old equestrian prodigy, equal parts accomplished rider and photogenic middle schooler. Mel van der Kamp is the shining star of the Wilten brand. He began riding only three years ago, when he was 8-years old. Under the coaching of owner Roy Wilten, Kamp’s on a trajectory toward his Olympic dreams.
“The horses love him,” says Stal Wilten about the young rider he scouted at a horse show three years ago. “And I believe so much in him – he’s very special. He demonstrates such appreciation for the horses and opportunities he has.”
“I love that, with horses, you have to work together as a team,” says the young rider. “All horses and ponies react in different ways, so you must have a connection with each one to establish trust.”
Between riding lessons, shows, and school, Kamp has the schedule of an adult, but he faces it with it positivity. “I plan my training around competitions, riding at home and also a few times a week at Stal Wilten. At the sports academy (I’ll attend this summer) I can easily do school in combination with my riding.”With the upcoming outdoor season, Kampwill be busy competing. “There will be a lotof nice shows this season. The level at which I compete always depends on what my ponies are ready for,” he shared in Dutch via Wilten. He is one of three siblings – himself and a set of twins – adopted from Ethiopiaby a Dutch couple. His brother Abdissa van der Kamp rides as well.“Abdissa has been a bit in the background,but I’m pushing him more,” Wilten says. Abdissa will be 16 this summer.
Neither of the brothers have seen a polo match live yet, but are both interested and have asked Wilten about coordinating a trip to see one. As far as whether either of them would make for future polo players, all Wilten knows is that they accomplish what they set their minds to. “Mel, especially,could be a great polo player if he developed a passion for it.”