Hendrix heirs Tim, Michel and Janou are not only continuing, but progressing the Hendrix family business. Despite having individual goals, they are staying true to their heritage and history – while constantly developing.
Text and photos: Madeleine D. Bergsjø
The widely recognised HX logo and striking blue colour of Stal Hendrix represents a family – and a family business – staying true to their history but constantly developing. The renowned jumping and training barn in Holland was founded by 1980 and 90’s showjumper Emile Hendrix, who participated in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and his brother Paul, a businessman and breeder at heart.
Today, Emile’s son Tim and Paul’s successors Michel and Janou are running the company. Tim is mainly a trainer now, while Michel focuses on the sport, both manoeuvring all aspects of the business. Early on, Janou decided to focus on other skills than riding and is now in charge of marketing and all HX events. The Hendrix team host a young horse competition in the spring, a prominent national show in July at their Kessel location, the Dutch Sport Horse Sales in Peelbergen, and the Limburg foal auction.
“Within a family company, you must deal with the history of the company and the older generation. You can learn a lot from them, but at the same time it is good to get the space and freedom to develop and have an own opinion on how to run the business. Stal Hendrix has grown massively over the years, and it will still develop. They built something fantastic, and it’s up to us to continue that legacy. “
Freedom and trust
The Stal Hendrix history started about 45 years ago, when the Dutch family settled in the south-eastern small town Baarlo in the Limburg region of Holland. This is where Paul and Emile Hendrix started the business, though their father was dealing and working with coldblood farm horses in his time. When the two brothers started riding, the family moved on to warmbloods to get into the sport.
The Hendrix home country of Holland has a strong horse culture because of its long history as an agricultural and military power. According to numbers from the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), there are as many as 500 000 riders in Holland, 50 000 of them competing actively across several disciplines. The number of competition entries per rider is the highest in all of Europe, despite being a rather small country. The horse sport, with all its branches of breeding, training, equestrian events, and export of sport horses, makes up a sizeable part of the Dutch economy.
Foreshadowing the business model of Stal Hendrix today, Emile was always the better rider, according to Janou, while Paul was more into breeding, trading, and scouting for new talent at shows. When Emile finished his riding career, he started teaching students, just like his son Tim recently went on to do. That led to further expansion of the Hendrix territory, both in the Limburg area and in the equestrian world.
The Stal Hendrix success was built on the growing demand for showjumpers in both Europe and America at the time – a demand that can’t be said to have ever slowed down, although it certainly fluctuates. Their business model and vision is still the same: Breeding or buying a young horse, giving it the correctdevelopment, training, and experience before selling it to the right rider and team.
– Handing over the family business to the younger generation is not always easy for the ones who built it. The freedom given to them – us – is very evident in both Tim and Michel, I think. Tim wanted to focus more on the training and have students at his barn after deciding to quit competing, and Emile and Paul gave him that opportunity, Janou says.
The legacy and a sustainable future
Running an operation the size of Stal Hendrix is hard work, but working hard is part of the legacy. Paul and Emile have always been very correct in the way they do things, focusing on long-term relations and partnerships, like the one they have with the Dutch showjumping yard Stal Heijligers of Rob Heijligers and Nina Fortgens. For as long as 20 years, they have been riding for and working with Paul and Emile, developing young horses, getting them ready for auctions, shows and championships. Still invested in their professional, long-term collaboration, Rob praises them “for always bringing them high class horses and being very nice people to work with”.
– We look up to them, they are very trustworthy, passionate people and a solid horse family. Paul, Emile and the Hendrixes are team players always engaged in and taking care of their clients and business partners. Everything they do, they strive to do perfect, and that’s what makes everyone motivated and happy working with them, Nina says
For the future, Tim, Janou, and Michel are all insistent on sustaining the concept of what Stal Hendrix is today: breeding and selling top horses for the sport, training both Hendrix riders and students, as well as continuing to develop their successful events. No matter what happens, the welfare of the horse always comes first.
Additionally, Janou mentions sustainability as a key element part of evolving and progressing. The Hendrix team already work with several brands and companies that have this on their agenda. Staying true to the legacy of the Hendrix family, the younger generation constantly works to maintain the trust and respect of the equestrian world. Using Horseware rugs made from recycled plastic bottles and installing solar panels on their building at home to leave a smaller environmental hoofprint, is one example of what modernising Stal Hendrix looks like.
The man on the ground
As the older cousin and now self-proclaimed “man on the ground”, Timothy “Tim” Hendrix (37) has become comfortable with no longer being an active rider himself. Based in Baarlo with Norwegian fiancé and rider Oda Charlotte Lyngvær and their two kids, Tim has found a good balance in developing the business and the young horses, combined with being a trainer for riders from England, Norway, Finland, America, Lebanon, and Sweden.
– I don’t have the same drive to get in the ring myself anymore;it’s enough seeing Oda and the others in there. I love to do this through them, he says.As an active rider, Tim got a taste of what the top sport is like, doing most of the big events: Hickstead, La Baule, some World and Nations Cup’s. With Oda and previous Hendrix rider Sophie Hinners coming onto the team at the time, he made the decision to rather support the girls on their way to achieving and experiencing what he had already done.
“We always try to look into the future to see in which ways we can adapt to be the best. The Hendrix business is growing a lot. The demand for horses is incredible. It can be difficult finding enough good horses, and if you have a good one in your stable, everyone is asking for it. Buying a good horse is very expensive and sitting on good horses makes you want to keep them to develop them until a certain age and level where you can get what they’re worth.”
Full focus on the top sport
With his older cousin Tim on the ground at shows and running his side of the business from across the road, Michel has further expanded the Hendrix owned land area and settled in Kessel with partner Kim Huige, their son and two riders: Slovenian Gaj Riossa and fellow Dutch rider Pieter Keunen.
For his final young rider and first senior year, Michel Hendrix worked at the German four-time Olympic gold medallist and former highest ranked rider in the world, Ludger Beerbaum.The now 35-year-old describes his career as nothing less of “pretty great”, having won big 5*-classes and a Nations Cup in Barcelona with the Dutch team as his career highlight. After his best horse Baileys, he experienced a series of unlucky injuries, setting him back on competing. That spurred on the growth of the Hendrix business even further.
– We are very different people, and I think that is a good thing. Tim is very good atsocialising; he talks to everyone. He is a very good salesman, let’s say it like that. He does his training job,which really suits him, but it’s not my thing. Of course, I want to win classes, but I always have a long-term vision for where I want to get with my horses. We work very well together. Tim is a hard worker, and I also think I try to work hard, Michel laughs.
Despite having independent goals for their roles within the company, Tim, Michel and Janou’s devotion to the family trade is the same, giving all parties confidence in what they do – and a bright blue future.
Stal Hendrix is big business. Only Oda and Tim’s establishment in Baarlo has room for 50 horses. Half of them are their own for development up to the high levels of thesport, while the remaining 25 stalls allow them to welcome talented equestrians from all over the world to their top-notch premises in Holland.
To kick off this year’s outdoor season, eight massive horse trucks with a total of 41 horses left the Stal Hendrix base in early February for three weeks at MET Oliva in Valencia, Spain. For the last ten years, riders from all over Europe has gathered in the small beach town at the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour for training, gaining valuable experience and getting ready for the season. During the three weeks Stal Hendrix spent there, MET Oliva welcomed a thousand horses, more than 300 riders and almost as many grooms, from 37 different countries.
The Hendrix team came with a clear plan for each horse, rider, and student.
“It’s not fair to ask too much of a horse. I think each horse has a certain level it can reach and be good at. Of course, you can try to see if it can do even more, but always fall back on keeping them on the level they belong – and sell them for that market. Some horses take that extra step onto another level, some do not, so that is part of our challenge to find the right match with their future riders.”
Tim would like to keep his favourite, the eight-year-old Obert VD Heffinck, currently ridden by Oda, for as long as possible, but there is a lot of askingfor the talented gelding. Even with “just” five horses at MET Oliva, Michel left with only four, as they sold a promising seven-year-old to a Finnish rider during their second week of the tour.
– Selling the horses at a show like this is not necessarily our goal, but when meeting the right customer and rider for the horse, it’s a nice bonus. Most of the horses we bring are not on the market as we want to develop them further before selling them. MET Oliva is a perfect place to spend three weeks of training and showing. This is what we do, Michel finishes.