of Los Angeles
Max von Zimmerman
f you attend horse shows in the States, Canada, or Europe it
is almost certain that you would recognize the voices of Matt
Millin, Max von Zimmerman, and Davin Malmqvist. But if
you passed by them outside of the venue you might not recognize
them on sight or really know anything about them.
All of these men had a background in horses when they were
younger, but they are quite diversified in most other things. Here
is a closer look at these men behind the voices.
Matt Millin – United Kingdom
Red Horse. Photograph by Alden Corringain Media
Matt has been involved with horses since he was seven years of
age. It is the only thing he has ever done. He used to ride himself,
and made the transition from ponies to horses.
“That is going back quite a few years. To be honest, I wasn’t that good,
but when I stopped riding I still wanted to be involved in the sport in
some way. So I went to my brother who runs a small place back in the
U.K. He put on some little shows, and I started doing a bit of judging
Things took off for him from there. He began to work larger
shows as a commentator, and became a judge in the U.K. in 1990.
By 2005 he was an FEI judge.
Continued on page 80
Page 34 TCE Nov/Dec 2015
Matt Millen (left) and Davin Malmqvist (right). Photo by Alden Corrigan
Matt Millen’s wife Amanda Jane and DJ at 1.70m in six bar. Arena UK Show Centre.
“How I got into the international circuit was working
among one of the best commentators in the world, Andréjacques Le Goupil from France – brilliant commentator!
I worked with him for some shows that Alan Beaumont
organizes in the U.K.
“EEM went to André-jacques and needed an Englishspeaking commentator for Paris. They needed someone
who’s lively and knowledgeable, and André-jacques said
very kindly, ‘I know just the man.’ And along with Alan
Beaumont’s recommendation, that’s how I joined the team
here. I’ve grown with them. I did Paris every show since,
both L.A. shows, and both the Hong Kong shows.”
Working with this team has given Matt many more
opportunities to work in almost every country. And while it
is true that he is on the road a lot, he and his wife Amanda
also have a couple of horses, both seven-year-olds that they
are trying to keep and show.
Commentating is Millin’s main job, but he and Amanda
have another business. It is called Find Me The Right Horse.
“We find horses for people literally all over the world.
It is all done by video, and it is all done by the power of
Facebook. And we have customers here in the States as well.
Of course we stand behind everything we sell. You can’t
have a company named Find Me The Right Horse if you
send a donkey, you know,” he laughed.
“Seriously, we interviewed so many horses and got so many
great stories about them, and then when we saw them they
were rubbish. I said, ‘This has got to stop. There has got to
Page 36 TCE Nov/Dec 2015
Matt Millen interviewing Bertram Allen
be somebody somewhere who will do the service.’ Then I
said, ‘Well, why don’t we do it?’ That’s how that worked.”
Matt is selective about which shows he works. He doesn’t
want to do 30 or 40 weekends abroad.
“I’m happy with the 12 or 15 that I do, and that’s enough
for me, because back home I’m also the mentor judge for
our National Federation. So I train the judges there, and
I do all their exams and put them up through the grades,
hopefully see them at the international level as well. I get
a good boost from that, taking the guys I’ve trained, you
“But I am very lucky,” he continued. “I get to work all over
the world in many different cultures. America has a more
exciting audience, with the glitz and glamour; you go to
Hong Kong and its like, ‘If you ask me to applaud, I will
applaud, if you ask me to sit still, I will sit still.’ And then
of course you got to Scotland, and that’s different world all
together,” he laughed.
“But the best thing for me isn’t really a particular venue; it’s
when we have a really good class. Like in Hong Kong, when
John won. I’ve known John since I was a little boy, and to
have the privilege of being the commentator and call him
home on his biggest ever financial win – that was amazing!”
Another thing he really enjoys is getting to see a young
rider move up the ranks and be successful. He remembers
Scott Brash when Scott was probably 12 or 13 at the little
shows in Scotland. He and his father would come with their
“He’d jump and he’d fall off at the fifth fence and his dad
would say, ‘Hey, get back on, you’re going again!’ Then he
might get to fence eight. And look at him now, he’s number
one in the world! He and Hannah, they’re such a good team.
I get a big boost seeing where he was to where he is now.”
The hardest part of Matt’s job? He feels it is just keeping
everybody happy, but he does an excellent job of doing that.
Millin is very conscious of the fact that there are a lot of
people in his sport that don’t get recognized. He believes
the owners need a lot more recognition in the sport.
“When you hear me commentate I always mention the
owners. The top riders in the world rely on these owners to
give them a living. I also don’t think the grooms get enough
recognition. We have a young horse series in the U.K., and
I always sponsor groom prizes, so every winner gets a bottle
of champagne courtesy of me. It’s just nice to bring them in
the ring as well.”
He is also aware that all of the sponsors are so very
“Look at the millions of dollars that Longines has put in,
in various series, not only here. Where would we be without
them? They have got to be the VIPs, they’ve got to. But I
think they are, because they come back year after year.”
For his preparation, Matt writes everything down.
“I can say what big things someone has won, but I don’t
know what he did last week, so I put it all on paper. The
internet is great for looking up that kind of thing.”
Millin said that the Director of EEM, Christophe Ameeuw
is great to work with. If he is happy he will come and tell
him, and if not he will say so. That makes it so much easier.
“This has been a good team for me, and these guys have really
put me on the map.”
Max von Zimmermann – United States
Max grew up around horses. His parents and sister were
trainers. He rode very briefly as a child, but he was always
on the working end of the show circuit.
“I started doing jump crew when I was a kid traveling
around with my parents when they rode. When I was 17 or
18 I started doing in-gates at the horse shows. I did that for
about 10 years or so, and then one year and somebody said
that they needed another announcer in the Grand Prix field
so they pulled me in.
“What really hooked me into the sport of showjumping was
working with Linda Allen at the 96 games in Atlanta and
seeing the best in the world, just like what we are watching here
at the Longines LA Masters”
Max von Zimmerman and his wife Dani
Max was enjoying only having his announcing duties at
the Longines Masters. Usually he is announcing as well as
judging at a lot of the events, so this is a rare treat for him.
And he is thrilled to see this level of competition.
“To see this caliber of horses here is fantastic. Seventeen
Olympians gathered in one spot – it’s just an amazing feat
and an amazing event.”
But he has announced other big competitions as well. He
has announced the million dollar class in Thermal for quite
a few years, one of the 2012 Olympic qualifiers in Del Mar,
and probably 50 or 60 World Cup qualifiers over the years.
He has also announced many medal finals up and down the
One of his favorite shows is unfortunately no longer in
existence, and that was the Hood River Classic in Oregon.
It was at the base of Mount Hood.
“It was, spectator-wise, just a beautiful, beautiful event to
His preparation for commentating involves a lot of
research. At the Longines Masters, since the West coast is
his home, Max is very familiar with the horses from this
“For the number of riders that we have out here it’s very
easy, because I see them all the time. Usually I am a part of
their results and what they do. But for the East coast and
European riders that are here, there are multiple websites
used to gather information. We put together a little book
on the riders and we organize that, so when the riders come
TCE Nov/Dec 2015 Page 37
in we have that information right at hand, if we don’t know
“The hardest part of my job is getting all the names right.
Especially in the sport of show jumping, some of the horses’
names are very, very unusual. You have a lot of Europeanstyle names. French is my worst, unfortunately. I’m pretty
good at pronunciation for most languages; I can pronounce
the riders well – but French for me, that’s my nemesis.”
Max really loves what he does, and gets just as much of a
thrill announcing smaller events. He takes pleasure in seeing
the joy that some of the kids show as he does announcing
some of the big events.
“These riders are used to big announcing and big events. I
try very hard in my announcing style, that no matter what
horse or rider comes in the ring, I try to make them feel like
that is their event, and it’s all about them at that time.
going,” Max continued. “Vic Carmen, the same way; they
could get a crowd right up there.”
Max had those announcer mentors, but he also had support
“Before this, my wife Dani didn’t even know this world
existed,” he said. “She has been just great. And of course
my parents who kind of got me into this in the first place.
I’d also like to mention Dianne Johnson; she’s a manager
up in the Northwest. She is the one who gave me my start,
as far as doing gates. She and another manager named
Peggy Fackrell were the ones who really gave me my first
opportunity to be a judge and a main announcer. I will
forever be grateful to both of them.”
Max wants to make the rider feel good when he is
announcing. But another thing he loves is new crowds.
“I love announcing to the laymen. I love people who haven’t
“I have learned from great announcers like Vic Carmen, been to an event before. My judging side comes out when
Matt Hinton, Ned Coffin, Jeff Gilbert, Tom Gallagher, and I’m announcing where I explain what’s happening in the
Mike Moran. All these guys were mentors and I’ve plucked ring. It’s very important, and for our sport to grow people
little things from them to incorporate into my own style.
need to know how it is judged and how it is scored. There
“I like to think that I’ve been around the business so long is a lot more to it than, you go fast and clean, and you win.”
and have worked with so many great people that it’s easy to Max does about 20 to 25 shows a year now, and most of
do my job and incorporate my own style in with things that those he will both judge and announce. He does not feel
I’ve enjoyed from them.
that one takes away from the other. He believes that he is
“Like Ned Coffin used to be GREAT at getting a crowd one of many people in the country that can do both jobs
Page 38 TCE Nov/Dec 2015
Longines Masters of LA arena. Photograph by Alden Corringain Media
One big family: Davin Malmqvist, Frank Lombaers, Matt Millin, Thomas Eyckmans, Max von Zimmerman, Paul and Kristof Van Mensel
“It’s very different in Canada and Europe – if you’re an
announcer, you’re an announcer. If you’re a judge, you’re a
judge. Fortunately in our country, that is one of the things
that makes it nice when you have the ability to do both.
That makes you in more demand to come to more shows.”
“It’s been a wonderful ride, and I hope it keeps going.”
as well. I hope the riders understand how much we want
them to succeed.”
Davin Malmqvist - Canada
“Of course you remember most of the horses and riders,
because you kind of get in the circuit where you see the
same people. I guess it becomes a little bit less of an onpaper preparation, it’s more of remembering what they’ve
done last week, for example. For me, I just try to remember
small little tidbits.”
As far as a favorite venue or area to announce, Davin really
doesn’t have a preference. He loves doing what he does no
matter where he is. He did admit that when he has time off,
which is very rare, he can go a bit stir-crazy.
“I started riding horses when I was eight actually. I spent
two years in England, because my father was transferred.
I then went back to Canada and continued riding. I did
some shows at Spruce Meadows. At one of the indoor
tournaments my horse had been injured, so I asked if they
needed any help. I was willing to do anything.
“Linda Southern told me I was announcing – I had never done
that before. It was an indoor show, so it wasn’t a big tournament.
I was nervous of course, but that’s how I started. Now, 23 years
later, I’m still doing it.”
This is Davin’s full-time job. He told us that this year he
will work right around 41 horse shows.
“It’s a lot of work, but I love what I do. You get to watch
beautiful animals and great riders. You can watch riders
come up through the ranks and develop from juniors to
amateurs to professionals. You get to see the horses develop
For the most part, Malmqvist works in North America,
primarily on the West coast. He is not opposed to going
anywhere in the world to announce, but right now he has
plenty of work right where he is.
Being that he mainly announces on one coast, we wondered
if his preparation for an event is any less, since he is more
likely to know the horse and rider teams.
He has always remembered something that acclaimed
course designer Leopoldo Palacios once said to him.
“Leopoldo believed that the horse business is unlike any
other business. In most places, if you have someone who
is the weakest link you let them fail. In the horse industry,
you never allow them to fail, because if they fail, the whole
“Being at shows becomes so much of your life, they are
your family. For instance, this is my first time working with
Matt (Millin), and it feels as if I’ve known him for decades.”
TCE Nov/Dec 2015 Page 39
Davin Malmqvist and Matt Millin. Photograph by Alden Corrigan Media
The person he looked up to the most in his industry was Bill
Kehler. He was considered the voice of Spruce Meadows, as
well as being an announcer for the Canadian Finals Rodeo
and the Calgary Stampede. He was also a member of the
Calgary Stampede Hall of Fame, the Spruce Meadows Hall
of Fame, and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Sadly,
Kehler passed in 2003, but made a lasting impression on
“He was by far the best horse show announcer that I’ve ever
heard, bar none. You could just tell he loved it. It wasn’t that
robotic voice who was announcing merely to get a paycheck;
it was ‘I love what I do.’ It was just the enthusiasm.”
Davin will go from the Masters down to Del Mar for
two weeks, and continue to travel, culminating with the
Las Vegas National in mid-November. That will wind up
his year, and then he has all of December off. He does
own a house in Calgary, but doesn’t see it that much. No
surprise, since he is on the road about 35 weeks a year or
so. That being the case, he knows he is fortunate to have an
“Courtney Anderson and I have been together 22 years. She
is an FEI judge. She rides as well, when she has time. So also
being in the industry, she can understand the times you are on
the road, and the lonely times. You can go from announcing
something like the Masters and give the best performance you’ve
ever given, and all of sudden, you’re alone. So your spouse on the
other end has to also understand that.”
In memory of Davin Malmqvist’s
wonderful chocolate labrador
Hershey. It is not only the humans
that road warriers miss while
Page 40 TCE Nov/Dec 2015
Davin Malmqvist’s and his wife Courtney Anderson
Thomas Eyckmans – Belgium
Thomas Eyckmans normally works in Belgium, but we
were lucky enough to have him travel to Los Angeles for
the Longines Masters. While here, he was working with
MaxSNDL and Klaas de Coster. It was de Coster and Frank
Lombaers who were very involved in bringing Thomas to
Eyckmans’ job is an important one, as he is instrumental
in making sure that the sound system is not only ready, but
accurate for each horse and rider that enters the arena. The
timing has to be perfect, both when the sound comes on,
and when it is turned off. The pick of the music is also very
“It’s wonderful working over here, as well as Hong Kong and
Paris. We work with the best. It is my first time in L.A., but
I have been doing the sound play for more than two years. In
the last couple of years, Klaas has become deeply involved in
the technical support of equestrian events. We have done all the
Thomas Eyckmans and partner Eline Borrey de Coninck winning a Silver
Medal during the Belgian Championships for Young Riders
World Championships in Belgium, and we do the Global Tour
events, so we have experience with the bigger events in the horse
Eyckmans also has his own event company, ET Events.
It is a full concept events and promotion company, and is
also heavily involved in the dressage world. He is one of the
co-organizers of the Belgium Championships of Dressage
and the FDE International Auction for dressage foals in
Thomas did not ride horses, but his partner does. She is the
international dressage rider Eline Borrey de Coninck, who
also has her own dressage stable in Melle, Belgium.
“She was one of the four team members who won that
historic Bronze Medal for Belgium during the European
Young Rider Championship in Compiegne, France a few
“Now is her first year in the seniors,” he said. “It’s a little
bit more difficult, but it’s a challenge and we’ll do that. We
have to learn from all the steps, that’s the most important
thing. But it’s fun working in the horse world, and we keep
“And,” he added proudly, “Eline is the first and only
Belgium who is studying at the University CAH Villentum
of Dronten, a class that specializes in equestrian business
Since Thomas has been involved in playing the sound for
more than two years now, while that is still a challenge to
get it perfect, there is one thing that has been harder for
him in this, his first trip to Los Angeles.
“The jet lag! Every night I wake up at 3:00 a.m., because
in Belgium it is mid-day. So it’s time to eat,” he laughed. “I
just want to eat, drink a cup of coffee, and then I come over
to the venue.”
Eyckmans does not have a favorite venue in which to work,
but he does enjoy working with the same team.
“Like when I work with announcer Matt Millin, I worked
with him at the Knokke Hippique and Stephex. The
Knokke Hippique and Stephex are really impressive events
in Belgium and we really got to know each other. It’s really
fun, because when he says something he knows what I will
“It’s easy and fluid and I love that. At every competition,
wherever we are in the world we see the same people. It
makes the work not feel like work. And that’s really good,
because in the morning we start at 7:00 and we end when
the competition’s over. Then we have a meeting to discuss
how everything went and what to do tomorrow. So it’s long
days, but doesn’t feel the same as sitting eight hours behind
“They call us crazy, but it’s a good crazy.”
TCE Nov/Dec 2015 Page 41