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By Laura Sofie Krebs
Photo: Helgstrand dressage / Andreas Houmann

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ANDREAS HELGSTRAND

It is no secret that former Olympic medallist, Andreas Helgstrand, is a man of ambition. From being Denmark's best dressage rider and the head equestrian for Blue Hors to having a worldwide empire of sales and breeding of top dressage horses has been a long and turbulent journey. 

THE MAVERICK

But it is far from over. We talked to one of Europe's most successful horse entrepreneurs to learn what the future brings. It turned into a personal and candid interview with the man who, if he wanted to, could retire tomorrow and support himself and his family for the rest of their lives. So, what drives him? And when is he really satisfied with everything, that he has achieved?

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What is a Maverick?

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Mail to Andreas: “Hi Andreas. Would you be willing to do an interview for our magazine? It will only take an hour of your time."

That same evening: "Hi Laura. I would be happy to. Just say when.”

The answer came promptly. Honestly, not exactly what I expected from a man who reportedly has an equity capital of over € 47M, has just bought Windsome Farm in Wellington, Florida for the staggering sum of € 14,5M – and been back and forth to Vectha, Germany for a stallion show to showcased some of the world's best stallions with his businesspartner, the legendary Paul Schockemöhle. 

But what is a Maverick? A Maverick is someone who does not abide by rules - or creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.
The word derives from Texan rancher and politician Sam Maverick, who allowed his unbranded cattle to roam semi-wild instead of branding them and penning them in fenced-in ranges. This sort of independent spirit describes the companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders as Mavericks.
A term suitable for Andreas Helgstrand. 

Despite this massive success, I quickly realized that Helgstrand is very down-to-earth. Later that week when we arranged the interview, I had, off course, prepared a wide range of tough questions for this Maverick of the horse world.  

I wanted to understand the man behind the millions and try to be consistent with my follow up questions to the smooth answers, I imagined he would come up with. Bring it on, Andreas: Let the truth be told!

The talent 

But all of my initial thoughts would soon be proven wrong. First of all, Andreas Helgstrand was very pleasant to talk to. He patiently and carefully answered all my questions, and thereby did not uphold my notion of a stone-cold businessman. Second of all, he spent a lot of time explaining, how much he had struggled to achieve success, and how many sacrifices he had to make. I noticed this when, for example, he would explain:

"I have had to give up things to achieve things. Results do not just come by itself, but at the expense of something else. If you are born with a talent, it is your obligation to continuously develop yourself. Despite the sacrifices you have to make. Trust me, it is totally worth it."

And yes. The equestrian world is a tough industry. It literally requires blood, sweat, and tears. Andreas knows that. Cause he had to sacrifice all three. He even left the safe environment of his family home, and at the age of 16 moves to the other end of the country to follow his talent. Family, friends, and teenage life were replaced with long days of stable work, preparation and breaking in young horses. Something he describes as extremely tough, but an experience, that helped shape the person, he is today.

The sportsman

Another example he probably never will forget, is the time he won the silver medal on Blue Hors Matiné at the 2006 Word Equestrian Games in Aachen, and just when it could not get any better, chose to quit it all. Something he subsequently told me was one of the hardest decisions of his life.

But what on earth made him give up all the success, he had fought for for so long? Why risk everything and change career at the exact moment, when he could hardly get any closer to the top? To answer that, there is something you need to understand about Andreas. He is a sportsman. And a sportsman is done setting new goals for himself. Combine that with a devil-may-care attitude, and you have the recipe for a Helgstrand. 

“I had a great job, great horses available and the opportunity to ride among the best in the world. But I wanted to do it on my own terms. Test myself in another setting. I had to borrow millions, and I almost did not sleep for the first 3 years. But it has all been worth it."

As a sportsman, there is no big difference between the goals he applies, when working with a horse versus the ones he applies, when doing business, Andreas says. 

The survivor

“I used to say that I would be satisfied with an individual medal at a championship. Then I knew I could not do any better. Now with Helgstrand Dressage, the goal for the first years has been to survive. We used to say: We are happy, if we survive. And it is so great to see, that we are succeeding." 

Almost humbly, Andreas says, he is proud of what he has achieved – both at home and not least in Florida and Germany. The exciting collaboration with Paul Schockemöhle in Germany is one of Andreas’ childhood dreams, so when it came into place, it was a bit of a dream coming true. And Helgstrand has only just begun.

How he wants to expand the empire in the future, we come back to later on. 

The dream of starting his own empire was planted in Andreas by a friend and business partner, who helped him develop the idea of Helgstrand Dressage and financially supported him from the start. 

And sooner rather than later, and with a good economical support from his partner Andreas opened his stables in Vodskov in the northern part of Denmark in 2009. Since then, several branches have been added in Europe and Florida, plus a jewellery company run by his wife, Marianne Helgstrand.

The defiant one

“In five years, we have grown even bigger. There are plenty of opportunities in jumping and eventing - and of course, equipment. There is a huge economic potential in the equine sector, " Andreas explains.

I could not get Andreas to elaborate further on the matter, but it is obvious that something big is on the way. For Andreas, it is about seeing the horse sector as a great untapped market. Extremely large amounts are being traded, but according to Andreas, no one has yet managed to do what he does, which is to create a comprehensive concept for breeding, riding and competition. Everyone is busy with their own thing and looking inward instead of outward.

This is where you sense a small fraction of something defiant in the otherwise calm businessman and rider. So, I allow myself to ask him, if he thinks the established horse sector is a bit old-fashioned in its way of doing business. To which he replies:

“If you look at the horse sector, there is huge economic potential, but everyone is busy with their own smaller stables. So, you have to be willing to take risks and believe in the idea of going new ways. The market is there, it is just a matter of having the courage to pursue the idea."

Does that mean Andreas is tired of the horse sector? On the contrary: He wants to revolutionize it and develop new ways of doing things, across sports, breeding, country borders, and cultures. A fresh breath of something new that is needed in an otherwise conservative world.

The first mover 

"I don´t do it for the money. I could easily have stopped a long time ago and retired myself and supported my family financially for the rest of our lives. This is about something else."

For Andreas, it is about believing in something bigger and coming up with a new way of doing business. There will always be hardships and bumps in the road, when you start something from scratch, but the question is just how to get back up and move on, he says.

“Helgstrand Dressage is what it is today, because I enjoy working with it. Seeing new potentials and overcoming challenges. As long as I feel this way, I will keep working. If one day I realise, that I am no longer a first mover with new ideas, I will stop. And that is fine with me,” concludes the horse entrepreneur and Maverick.

andreas_helg2.jpg
andreas-helg.jpg
andreas-helg3.jpg
andreas-helg6.jpg
New image
Receive our newsletter about the
daily life with horses in your inbox
Check the latest news on our platforms
New image

It is no secret that former Olympic medallist, Andreas Helgstrand, is a man of ambition. From being Denmark's best dressage rider and the head equestrian for Blue Hors to having a worldwide empire of sales and breeding of top dressage horses has been a long and turbulent journey. 

But it is far from over. We talked to one of Europe's most successful horse entrepreneurs to learn what the future brings. It turned into a personal and candid interview with the man who, if he wanted to, could retire tomorrow and support himself and his family for the rest of their lives. So, what drives him? And when is he really satisfied with everything, that he has achieved?

advertisement

advertisement

What is a Maverick?

advertisement

advertisement

By Laura Sofie Krebs
Photo: Helgstrand dressage / Andreas Houmann

andreas-helg5.jpg
andreas-helg5shadow.png
andreastransparentflip.png
THE MAVERICK

ANDREAS HELGSTRAND

Mail to Andreas: “Hi Andreas. Would you be willing to do an interview for our magazine? It will only take an hour of your time."

That same evening: "Hi Laura. I would be happy to. Just say when.”

The answer came promptly. Honestly, not exactly what I expected from a man who reportedly has an equity capital of over € 47M, has just bought Windsome Farm in Wellington, Florida for the staggering sum of € 14,5M – and been back and forth to Vectha, Germany for a stallion show to showcased some of the world's best stallions with his businesspartner, the legendary Paul Schockemöhle. 

But what is a Maverick? A Maverick is someone who does not abide by rules - or creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.
The word derives from Texan rancher and politician Sam Maverick, who allowed his unbranded cattle to roam semi-wild instead of branding them and penning them in fenced-in ranges. This sort of independent spirit describes the companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders as Mavericks.
A term suitable for Andreas Helgstrand. 

Despite this massive success, I quickly realized that Helgstrand is very down-to-earth. Later that week when we arranged the interview, I had, off course, prepared a wide range of tough questions for this Maverick of the horse world.  

I wanted to understand the man behind the millions and try to be consistent with my follow up questions to the smooth answers, I imagined he would come up with. Bring it on, Andreas: Let the truth be told!

andreas_helg2.jpg

The talent 

But all of my initial thoughts would soon be proven wrong. First of all, Andreas Helgstrand was very pleasant to talk to. He patiently and carefully answered all my questions, and thereby did not uphold my notion of a stone-cold businessman. Second of all, he spent a lot of time explaining, how much he had struggled to achieve success, and how many sacrifices he had to make. I noticed this when, for example, he would explain:

"I have had to give up things to achieve things. Results do not just come by itself, but at the expense of something else. If you are born with a talent, it is your obligation to continuously develop yourself. Despite the sacrifices you have to make. Trust me, it is totally worth it."

And yes. The equestrian world is a tough industry. It literally requires blood, sweat, and tears. Andreas knows that. Cause he had to sacrifice all three. He even left the safe environment of his family home, and at the age of 16 moves to the other end of the country to follow his talent. Family, friends, and teenage life were replaced with long days of stable work, preparation and breaking in young horses. Something he describes as extremely tough, but an experience, that helped shape the person, he is today.

andreas-helg.jpg

The sportsman

Another example he probably never will forget, is the time he won the silver medal on Blue Hors Matiné at the 2006 Word Equestrian Games in Aachen, and just when it could not get any better, chose to quit it all. Something he subsequently told me was one of the hardest decisions of his life.

But what on earth made him give up all the success, he had fought for for so long? Why risk everything and change career at the exact moment, when he could hardly get any closer to the top? To answer that, there is something you need to understand about Andreas. He is a sportsman. And a sportsman is done setting new goals for himself. Combine that with a devil-may-care attitude, and you have the recipe for a Helgstrand. 

“I had a great job, great horses available and the opportunity to ride among the best in the world. But I wanted to do it on my own terms. Test myself in another setting. I had to borrow millions, and I almost did not sleep for the first 3 years. But it has all been worth it."

As a sportsman, there is no big difference between the goals he applies, when working with a horse versus the ones he applies, when doing business, Andreas says. 

The survivor

“I used to say that I would be satisfied with an individual medal at a championship. Then I knew I could not do any better. Now with Helgstrand Dressage, the goal for the first years has been to survive. We used to say: We are happy, if we survive. And it is so great to see, that we are succeeding." 

Almost humbly, Andreas says, he is proud of what he has achieved – both at home and not least in Florida and Germany. The exciting collaboration with Paul Schockemöhle in Germany is one of Andreas’ childhood dreams, so when it came into place, it was a bit of a dream coming true. And Helgstrand has only just begun.

How he wants to expand the empire in the future, we come back to later on. 

The dream of starting his own empire was planted in Andreas by a friend and business partner, who helped him develop the idea of Helgstrand Dressage and financially supported him from the start. 

And sooner rather than later, and with a good economical support from his partner Andreas opened his stables in Vodskov in the northern part of Denmark in 2009. Since then, several branches have been added in Europe and Florida, plus a jewellery company run by his wife, Marianne Helgstrand.

andreas-helg3.jpg

The defiant one

“In five years, we have grown even bigger. There are plenty of opportunities in jumping and eventing - and of course, equipment. There is a huge economic potential in the equine sector, " Andreas explains.

I could not get Andreas to elaborate further on the matter, but it is obvious that something big is on the way. For Andreas, it is about seeing the horse sector as a great untapped market. Extremely large amounts are being traded, but according to Andreas, no one has yet managed to do what he does, which is to create a comprehensive concept for breeding, riding and competition. Everyone is busy with their own thing and looking inward instead of outward.

This is where you sense a small fraction of something defiant in the otherwise calm businessman and rider. So, I allow myself to ask him, if he thinks the established horse sector is a bit old-fashioned in its way of doing business. To which he replies:

“If you look at the horse sector, there is huge economic potential, but everyone is busy with their own smaller stables. So, you have to be willing to take risks and believe in the idea of going new ways. The market is there, it is just a matter of having the courage to pursue the idea."

Does that mean Andreas is tired of the horse sector? On the contrary: He wants to revolutionize it and develop new ways of doing things, across sports, breeding, country borders, and cultures. A fresh breath of something new that is needed in an otherwise conservative world.

andreas-helg6.jpg

The first mover 

"I don´t do it for the money. I could easily have stopped a long time ago and retired myself and supported my family financially for the rest of our lives. This is about something else."

For Andreas, it is about believing in something bigger and coming up with a new way of doing business. There will always be hardships and bumps in the road, when you start something from scratch, but the question is just how to get back up and move on, he says.

“Helgstrand Dressage is what it is today, because I enjoy working with it. Seeing new potentials and overcoming challenges. As long as I feel this way, I will keep working. If one day I realise, that I am no longer a first mover with new ideas, I will stop. And that is fine with me,” concludes the horse entrepreneur and Maverick.

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