The face that launched a thousand questions.
This face made me fall off my chair.
It was 2012. My first book had just come out, and I was working on the sequel. As sometimes happens, the character of “Seth” had come to life and wrested away control of the story, sending it in directions I had never planned. Seth is a kind, funny boy and an excellent horse trainer. And in my mind, he looked EXACTLY like this kid.
I shared the photo on Facebook and asked my readers what they thought. The general consensus: I should sue that kid for impersonating my character.
Thanks to the wonders of the Interweb, I had found “Seth” – only his name was Jesse Drent, he lived in Holland, and the similarities were more than skin deep. You see, Jesse’s also funny and kind. And, like Seth, he’s an amazing trainer. Check out some of these videos of Jesse and his Arabian mare Andorra, who’s been his partner for a decade:
That’s not all. Hold on to your hearts, ladies and gents. This is what young Jesse looks like now:
Although he does some modeling, Jesse is one half of team Nalanta and spends most of his time traveling around Europe giving exhibitions and offering liberty training workshops. The other half of Nalanta is Eva Roemaat, herself a gifted trainer who can also be found on YouTube.
Lucky for me, Jesse and I have become “virtual” friends. He graciously consented to appear on the covers of two of my books, and he answered some questions for Horse Nation.
How old were you when you started riding, and who taught you?
I was eight when I started at a riding school. I rode there for three years and then I got my own horse, Andorra. Was always a lot of fun!
You’ve ridden dressage, jumpers, and even field hunted. How did you get started with the liberty training you’re currently doing?
Riding wasn’t always easy and I was really struggling, so I started doing little tricks. I liked them and so did Andorra. After the tricks I realized that a different way of learning existed, learning from the horse and having fun. So I continued, and I found my balance. Still so grateful!!
You’re one half of the training and performing duo Nalanta. How did you meet Eva Roemaat, your fellow trainer? How long have you been working together?
I’ve worked with Eva since April 2012. We met each other on hyves, which was similar to Facebook in Holland. We had a lot of fun as friends and started doing small shows together, and we’re still going. Super fun to be able to show that anyone can do it, with any kind of horse.
What are your goals as a trainer?
As a trainer, first of all, I really want to do good to the horse. I want to keep learning from the horses, and to share my experiences with people. And because I’m working with a lot of people and horses, I learn more and more every day. I also really want everyone to remember the reason why they started working with horses. FUN and passion! Never forget that, and never let expectations ruin that. Enjoy the fact that we are able to work together with such a special animal.
What do you consider the most important element of training (if there is one)?
Work positively with your horse. Trust them. Try to let go, think less, and feel more. Positivity works much better. You’re asking your horse to do things for you, but if they won’t give you the right answer straight away, try to explain it better. Find your way to the right answer together. There’s nothing like the feeling of being in it together. Take all the time you need with it. You will forever be grateful!
Have there been any special challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have to overcome new ones every day (laughs). Every day I know that I can do better, or listen more, or try different options. Be creative and open-minded. For me it’s a good thing to always remember that frustration is human, and don’t blame it on your horse. Take a deep breath and stay positive! Hold on to the good. Also, there isn’t just one way. There are a lot of ways!!
You obviously have a very special relationship with your mare Andorra. Can you tell us a bit about her and your other horses?
Andorra is my amazing, wise, and extremely special horse. Look in her eyes and you will never argue with me about this. She taught me so much and she never lets me down. In the beginning, it was really hard and she tried to tell me that I had to respect her, and let her speak as well because otherwise it was a “no.” She made me realize that, and if you think about it logically it makes perfect sense! Horses love do many different things and to get the best out of everything. Andorra is really special and means a lot to me!
I also have a very sweet Shetland stallion and an Andalusian stallion. Macho, the Shetland, is seven and is completely different from Andorra. He is more busy, and really funny as well! He loves to play and have fun!
Antares the Andalusian is only three and I’m just getting to know him. Before, he was really intense but now he’s getting better and I’m understanding him more. He came from Spain and everything was new to him. When he acted crazy, I just needed to relax and show him that I wasn’t mad and wouldn’t fight him. He needed to realize that I want him as a friend! I’m very excited to walk this path with him. Every day I learn so much from all of them.
I also ride three other Dutch Warmblood horses. A mare and two geldings. I train them for dressage and jumping. It’s really good for me to learn more in riding; I think that doing a lot of different things helps everything get easier. They are all very different, sweet and also kind of hot. I’ve tried many ways of dealing with them. They really want to work, but sometimes we need to relax, to just stick to one thing and not try 1001 things at once. I love them!
What are your dreams for the future?
In the future, I hope that I’ll be able to continue doing shows, meeting amazing horses and people, and be a part of this lifestyle. Every day I’m grateful I can do this, and I hope to continue for a long time. Maybe one day with a property that would allow me to do things in the best possible way!
Jesse Drent is most active on YouTube, where you can discover more of his liberty work.
M. Garzon is an unrepentant idealist who believes that happy endings don’t always look the way you’d expect them to. She shares her home with two kids and five rescue animals and spends most of her non-writing time chauffering people and hugging trees around her hometown of St-Lazare, QC. She reminds herself frequently that she’s extremely lucky to be a writer. You can connect with her at www.mgarzon.ca or on Facebook.