Interview by CAROL COHEN-HODESS
Story by EMILY HOLOWCZAK
Andreas Helgstrand’s awe-inspiring performances in the dressage arena have earned him accolades around the world. From European Championships and FEI World Cup Finals to Olympic and World Equestrian Games, Helgstrand has run the gamut of international dressage. His elegant displays and daring patterns in the arena have secured him a reputation as both a fierce competitor and a crowd favorite. Following his Olympic debut in Athens in 2004, Helgstrand went on to travel and build his own business, aptly named Helgstrand Dressage. Based in Vodskov, Denmark, Helgstrand’s top sales and training farm launched in 2008 and features expansive stables, two indoor arenas, outdoor arenas, a stallion station, machine walking, and aqua training. The business has seen great success since its establishment with about 500 elite dressage horses to its name. Most recently, Helgstrand Dressage has gone global, boasting a new stallion station in Germany and the addition of a sales branch based in Wellington, Florida.
Helgstrand’s interest in creating his own business began during the years when he was competing regularly at the highest level. “I had an idea when I rode these big championships,” Helgstrand shares, “I just said to myself, I don’t want to do this the rest of my life, traveling all the world around, horse shows every weekend. It’s fun to ride; I love to ride, but it’s also fun to build something up for later.” He began to think differently about his career and decided to take a chance and hit the ground running. “I thought, okay, if I should do something, I should do it now, when I’m on top and have a name, and I won’t do it like all the others.”
Within the first few years of its founding, Helgstrand Dressage became one of the world’s most recognized sales and training facilities for dressage horses, and in November of 2017, Helgstrand officially expanded his business to America. A select number of horses were transported to the new farm in Wellington, which is managed by Dr. Ulf Möller. While Helgstrand’s main business in Europe offers hundreds of horses to choose from, he opted to bring about 25 horses to Wellington. Helgstrand chose Wellington for its breadth of clients and showing opportunities. After all, it is known as the horse capital of the world. “Why isn’t anybody having a good sales barn here?” he asks, “There are a lot of trainers that are selling a horse or two, but nobody has a bigger presence.” Helgstrand aims to bring a larger selection of horses to America to meet the demands of the market. Buyers will no longer have to travel to many different farms in order to look at prospects.
Certainly, there have been some learning moments as Helgstrand begins to navigate the market in America. “It is a little bit different [in America]” he admits, “Last year, for example, we brought some really top young horses and nobody wanted them. They were too green. This year, we thought we’d take some older horses with a little bit more experience. That was the way to do it.” Helgstrand also offers his expertise in training. Last year, Helgstrand Dressage USA hosted an open training day where the public was invited to watch a day of training and ask questions of Helgstrand and Möller. The event was held within the first few weeks of Helgstrand Dressage’s landing in America and piqued the interest of the Wellington community. Helgstrand stresses the importance of working with quality. “People want the best,” he shares, “I want to do this. I want to really try to do it properly. A lot of people told me they tried but it was not working out and it was difficult, but I want to try.”
The name Helgstrand not only lends itself to the horse business. Marianne Helgstrand, Andreas’ wife, created a luxury jewelry line called Helgstrand Denmark in 2015. “I had an idea that we missed
some real jewelry in the equestrian sport, especially the brooch that all dressage riders are riding with,” she shares. The collection is inspired by the shapes of riding equipment such as the rings of a horse bit. Timeless pieces of silver and gold include brooches, earrings, rings, and necklaces. Series of jewelry are named after horses of great importance to Marianne and Andreas. The first series was named after Matiné, with whom Andreas brought home a silver medal from the World Championships in Aachen. Marianne states, “I had been following Andreas for such a long time, and I felt that it would be great having something for myself that was my business.”
While he may have retired from international competition, one can still see Helgstrand in the show ring with his young horses. In 2018, Helgstrand and Zhaplin Langholt won the Championship for Young Horses in Herning, Denmark. This year, he won the title again with Queenspark Wendy. In addition to their successful youngsters, the stallions of Helgstrand Dressage have also received high marks for their quality from judges in recent years.
Andreas Helgstrand’s world-class team provides horses that are in a league of their own. His incredible passion for the sport of dressage is reflected in the care he takes with his business. “I have the best job, the best horses,” Helgstrand exclaims, “I love what I’m doing.”