Many dressage riders would feel pleasantly fulfilled after winning an Olympic medal or two, but not so Andreas Helgstrand, writes SUZY JARRATT.
After achieving Olympic glory, many equestrians might consider judging at international shows, coaching, commentating, or perhaps, just be happy to fade into the background. Andreas Helgstrand is different. This 44-year-old Danish Olympian is today a leading entrepreneur in the equestrian industry, running major facilities in Denmark, Germany and the United States. And he has recently made his presence felt in Australia.
Overseas, Helgstrand Dressage has sales and training centres for hundreds of foals, yearlings and elite horses. And at the end of last year, in partnership with fellow Olympian German show jumper Ludger, Andreas was instrumental in improving Florida’s Palm Beach International Centre, with additional stables and quality footing installed throughout the grounds. Show jumping horses will now also be included with the line-up of dressage horses for sale there.
Heiline’s Donau Rush ridden by Alicia Ryan.
In Australia, Helgstrand at Turnberry is based in Victoria at a property on the Bellarine Peninsula formerly known as Statene Park, home of Rob and Mary Hanna who have now moved to Gisborne. Mary is presently in Germany training with Finnish rider Henri Ruoste.
Stud manager Lyndall Kramer offers some interesting background to this new and innovative project: “It’s a fifty-fifty partnership between Andreas Helgstrand of Denmark, and Australian businessman Bruce Dixon, who owns the property.”
She explains that the idea was to bring European horses to this country for sale from Denmark, or from Helgstrand, Germany. “We’ll also be breeding here from European mares and Helgstrand stallions, and Andreas will come out every year and select from the two and a half year olds. Some might go back to be licensed as stallions or be sale horses in Europe; others will stay at Turnberry. We’ll be promoting Australian breeding in Europe, and European sale horses in this country, which will make it a bit easier for people here.”
Although Andreas has developed partnerships with Beerbaum, and also with Paul Schockemohle, the focus in Victoria, says Lyndall, is solely to breed Warmblood dressage horses.
And she is the ideal person to oversee and participate in this project. Her experience and knowledge are exemplary. After gaining a BSc in Equine Science, she later broadened her breeding knowledge by obtaining licences for insemination and embryo transfer. She is also a rider and trainer.
Referring to herself as an “Australian Londoner” she was born and educated in the UK and has worked in many parts of the world as a stud and breeding manager.
Before Turnberry she ran a private Arabian stud in Germany for six years, and prior to that a Lusitano and Warmblood farm in France. “I also have three horses of my own back in the UK. A mare in foal, a yearling, and a dressage stallion. Here we presently have one embryo foal on the ground and another due in December,” she says.
So far they have brought out three important Danish mares – Azett Lynghojgard, Gorklintgards Falulah and Ira de Jeu – and some ridden horses arrived in January. “We have to build up the infrastructure and install more stables before bringing in any more,” Lyndall explains. “Over 2023 we’re hoping to have 10 to 15 more sale horses on top of what we’ve already imported. We have a Dynamic Dream colt just born out of Azett, and this year we’re expecting four foals one of which is a Jovian embryo by Ira.”
Azett Lynghojgard, one of Helgstrand at Turnberry’s three imported Danish mares.
Last year Jovian, by Apache/Tango, claimed victory as the seven-year-old World Champion in Verden, Germany, and in March Andreas rode him in the horse’s Grand Prix debut at a national show in Aarhus, Denmark scoring a winning 83.7 per cent with several tens.
After the test Andreas praised the dark bay stallion: “When I rode the first centre line I got goosebumps as I felt he was 110 per cent with me. It’s a very special feeling to ride a horse you’ve developed yourself when they make their Grand Prix debut.”
At Helgstrand at Turnberry everyone is hands on. “We’re a small team and we all muck in together,” says Lyndall. Riding the sales horses is 25-year-old Alicia Ryan, who lives close by, and Molly Bloxham is stable manager. “She keeps the barn and the horses ticking along and assists in the backing of the youngsters. Veterinary assistance comes from Dr Stuart Brown at the Golden Plains Equine Clinic in Lethbridge. The horses are lunged, go on the treadmill, exercise in the AQUAgym, have physio every six weeks, and are ridden in the indoor and outdoor arenas as well as being hacked out.”
Before I spoke to Lyndall she had been riding one of the brood mares who she is building up: “Alicia and I like to gallop across the local fields where the sheep are. All the horses here are exposed to a lot of experiences as we want them to be ‘complete’,” she explains.
Helgstrand at Turnberry is an exciting next-step in Australian dressage and clearly, as when training a horse, the importance of establishing the basics is recognised.
A strong foundation is paramount.
If you’re interested to learn more, visit helgstrand-turnberry.com
Feature Image: Danish chestnut mare Ira de Jeu. All images by Eloquence Equestrian