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The Standards-Writing Equestrian

by Clare Coppa

You’ve heard of National Velvet and Mr. Ed, but what about the standards-writing equestrian?

Taun Kylstra (called “Tony”) is the matriarch of a riding family who lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Her children Maaike and Maarten inherited her father’s love of riding. She recalled he traveled by horseback as a physician working in the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia). In this country two interests would emerge—horses and science—that would become central to Taun’s later life. Some of her earliest scientific work was as a laboratory technologist at a hospital in Sungei Gerong; later in her career, she progressed to the position of chemical laboratory chief for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Amsterdam, where she began to develop standards for airline maintenance chemicals.

In the early ’70s, Kylstra was a founding member of SAE Aerospace Committee J on Aircraft Maintenance and Chemical Materials, and ASTM Subcommittee F07.07 on Qualification Testing of Aircraft Cleaning Materials. Now retired after 34 years with KLM, her main activities involve standards writing and horses.

Bridles, stables, aerospace materials specifications—equine-ese and standard-speak flow near Kylstra, but not necessarily in the same language. She speaks Dutch, English, French, German, and Indonesian, an added plus at organizational meetings in both fields.

To her family, Kylstra is the nurturing, board-game wielding type. She also likes to play mother as an officer of the Nederlandse Ruiter Sport Vereniging, or the Dutch Riding Sport Society to us Yanks: “During all events I am present and perform the duties as starter/finisher as well as general walking information stand.”

Recently, her NRSV participation has been more behind the scenes than on horseback, but she wears her 10-year cross with pride, she said, for completing strictly-regulated four-day trail rides for more than a decade.

From 1991 to 1997, she was chef d’equipe for the National Dutch Endurance Team at European and World Championships. “As a chef d’equipe, you do everything except riding a horse: you are the contact between the organisation and the riders,” she e-mailed. “I have to see that they have the right info and papers, straighten out complaints, clear their way at the vet gates, talk with the officials, be present always and everywhere; in short a jack-of-all-trades before, during and after the race.”

As well as chairing ASTM Subcommittee F07.07 on Qualification Testing of Aircraft Cleaning Materials, this ubiquitous senior orchestrates 300 riders in 10 annual events as the NRSV secretary, a position she’s held since 1990.

Whether hobnobbing with colleagues in either field, chances are she’ll have a draft standard packed in her saddle bag.

Copyright 2001, ASTM