Belgian Pony Clubber to Wellington Professional, A Lifelong Devotion to Horses
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Werner Van Den Brande started riding in Belgium when he was seven years old. He joined a riding club where he and his friends learned to ride together on ponies. Werner loved horses and riding, and by the time he was 15, he was a serious rider taking lessons from a professional trainer. A multi-talented young horseman, Werner competed in Dressage, Eventing, and Show Jumping.
At age 17, Werner chose Dressage as his sport. “It’s what I found most interesting,” he explains.
In 1998, 21-year-old Werner began his professional career. He opened his own equestrian business in Belgium and made a name for himself as a rider and trainer by competing successfully on his own horses and client-owned horses. In 2003, Werner opened his first sales barn in Belgium. By 2004, Werner’s business had grown dramatically and he moved to a brand-new facility in Belgium to accommodate 25 horses and a staff of four.
Werner operated his Belgium-based business for nine years. During that time, as a professional devoted to horsemanship and classic dressage, Werner sought out the best trainers and received coaching from some of the top competitors in Europe including Arjen Teeuwissen and Jeanette Haazen of The Netherlands, who both represented their country at the Dressage World Cup Finals.
Werner also trained with Raymond Withages of Belgium, husband of FEI judge Mariette Withages, and noted, “I like him a lot. I learned a great deal from him and enjoyed working with him.” Werner also credits Imke Schellekens-Bartels of the Netherlands as a trainer that helped his career. “I was coaching a rider at many shows in Europe and ended up sitting with Imke all the time,” Werner recalls. “She gave me a lot of great information that proved to be extremely helpful.”
“Wellington is a horse town,” Werner assessed. “Everybody is here during the season. Everything is close-by – the stores are open late and the beach is 20 minutes away. The weather is great. There are a lot of really good things about living here.”
As a competitor, Werner made his debut on the Florida winter circuit in 2006. During the past three seasons, Werner claimed wins with Douglas in the FEI Young Horse Classes and top placings and wins with Lullaby, Filigran 037, and Briljanth in the Intermediaire.
During the summer season, Werner is on the move, going on horse buying trips, primarily in Europe.
Werner’s reputation as a professional trainer, clinician, rider, and seller of quality horses has grown tremendously in Wellington in just three years. He is thrilled with the lifestyle he has developed for himself. “I really like to do everything in horses,” Werner said. “I like to train, teach, coach and operate the sales business. This is a dream come true.”