Jan, his wife Catharina, daughter Angelina, 8, and son Oliver, 7, with 7-year-old Tuschomie (Tuschinsky x Blue Horse Romancier), owned by Carol and Blake Hodess and trained by Brink.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
Interview: CAROL COHEN-HODESS
Story: EMILY HOLOWCZAK
Internationally accomplished dressage rider Jan Brink is a man of humble roots with unbelievable drive. His farm, his home, his whole approach to the sport, architecture, and art is, he says, “constantly evolving or shaping into a form that will be a thing of great beauty.” Brink’s Tullstorp Dressage Stable is the quintessence of his diverse interests. He has a broad range of intellectual and cultural curiosities, including arts, mathematics, sciences, philosophy, and music history. Each of these interests work as moving parts within the architecture at Tullstorp, which was designed by Brink himself. The intricacies of art aid in the shape of the horses, riders, and overall welfare of the farm. Brink says, “Sport multiplied by art equals dressage,” and his farm situated in the southern Sweden countryside certainly echoes this sentiment.
Brink is consumed by the concept of “shape.” An art aficionado in every sense, Brink enjoys collecting paintings and sculptures, and compares their imaginative shapes with the creative art of dressage. The shape of the horse, the shape of the student, the continuing evolution of the desire for perfection, all contribute to the success of a dressage test. Brink insists that his work ethic is a huge contributor to his success. The seven-time Swedish champion, seven-time international-championship medalist, and three-time participant at the Olympics credits a combination of his temperament and drive for his ability in creating shape in the art form he has chosen in life—dressage.
Brink’s biography, The Story So Far, details his life from the time of his childhood in Hörby, Sweden, to 2007 when he married his wife, Catharina Svensson. Until 2009, Brink’s total focus was his sport. As an international rider of great acclaim, Brink garnered many distinguished awards, including seven Swedish championship gold medals, an individual silver and bronze medal and three team bronze medals at the European championship, and bronze medals at the world championship and in the World Cup finals. He also won the gold medal at the 2005 championship in Aachen (the unofficial world championship). After he retired his enormously successful stallion Briar at the World Cup in Las Vegas, Brink focused on reshaping his business. Catharina, who he met when she was in law school, began working with him. Brink wanted to train riders and sell more horses, but not just any riders or just any horses—people who have the same work ethic and appreciation for the art of dressage as he does. Tullstorp is a place for special riders and horses, so in 2012 Brink redesigned his farm to cater to his exceptional clients.
Upon entering Tullstorp Dressage Stable, you will see a beautifully carved stone with the farm’s name. Round, rectangular, and open-ended buildings are all connected by intricately laid cobblestones. The facility exudes quality, boasting nearly 10 acres of trimmed grass, over 100,000 square feet of riding areas, and almost four miles of landscaped trails. Brink built his office and conference room, including a pool, spa, tennis court, and hotel rooms that rival any five-star resort. His business has steadily grown, and he now has a handful of riders being shaped for international dressage.
Brink states, “Creating a horse is like creating sculpture. But they are living animals, so one must be patient and give and take and not be too strong. That creates stress, which is bad for the horse and the rider. The rider must have a philosophy in their head of how this art and sport will take shape, so they can create their paths.”
The training group Brink created along with his coach of 22 years, Kyra Kyrklund, brings together young riders once a month. Brink shares his methods so the next generation can understand the level of commitment it takes, not just to ride, but to ride well. He says, “You need technique, some sort of education, psychology—the way you are thinking—and you need to be physically fit. You must have the drive and the energy to go to the top; this is what it takes. Talent is not enough. You need ambition, pride, and drive.”
Jan has been asked if he longed to compete again internationally, but he feels contented with his past career. Now, he has students who want to follow in his footsteps, and he is delighted to help and take on as many riders as possible.
Tullstorp was designed to be the perfect backdrop to the talented horses and riders that train there. From the gorgeous architecture and fabulous creative sculptures, to Brink’s meticulous philosophy surrounding the sport, the farm offers a picture-perfect environment to hone the art of dressage.