GET TO KNOW
- Age: 28 years old (Born on November 23, 1995)
- Lives in: The Netherlands
- Occupation: Trick trainer, Author, Rider, CEO Nalanta / HorseWorldTV, Content Creator
- Instagram: _jessedrent
- Horses: Andorra (NRPS/Arabian), Macho (Shetland), Antares (Andalusian), Gaio (Lusitano)
What started out as a way of storing images online evolved into a social media sensation that inspires hundreds of thousands of followers daily. Jesse Drent is the Youtube and social media phenomenon that has taken the equestrian world by storm. His captivating content makes equestrians all over the world laugh, cry and marvel – as we follow him and his horses on their journey.
What is the secret behind his positive philosophy on working with horses, and how did it all start? Maya Delorez had a quick catch-up with Jesse Drent between his busy (and very horsy) schedule, where we learned that when it comes down to talking with horses – it’s all about listening.
For someone who doesn’t know, who is Jesse Drent?
If I were to describe myself, I would say that I’m really into horses! From day one, since I got in contact with horses for the first time, I could not think of anything else. Apart from horses, I also have a few side businesses going on. I always try to work in a positive way, and that is what I try to do in general life as well – to see everything in a positive light. If you do that, I believe your whole mindset changes – and that is what I’m going for.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My days are always very different, but what I usually do during the week is focus on training my horses. After that, I usually do some social media work where I shoot content for Instagram or my Youtube channel. I also have my own brand, Nalanta Equipment, which I’m very passionate about! We sell bitless bridles, neck ropes, my books and other equipment.
So usually in the morning or in the afternoon I work with the webshop, develop new products, and answer emails. I also have a person on my team who helps me out with the office work and that kind of stuff.
During the weekends I do a lot of lessons, clinics and shows in the Netherlands and in surrounding countries. Matt and I also have our platform HorseWorldTV, which we usually film about once a month. That’s really cool because I get to learn a lot from it. I’m really grateful that I get to see so many great people and so many amazing places. And the best thing is that it’s a learning experience for everyone watching at home, too. That’s very nice!
It’s a busy schedule, but I like it that way. Basically, I have always been working seven days a week. But the thing is: It doesn’t really feel like work. If I do have a day off I really struggle, I don’t really know what to do with myself, haha.
How did Matt and Jesse meet?
It’s kind of a funny story actually. I had already been on social media for a long time, but I was very young and did not really know what to do with my photos, and since I didn’t want to lose them – I posted everything online. After a while, I started to grow some followers. And apparently, Matt was already following me years ago, but then he unfollowed me because I was posting so much and got annoyed. After a few years, he started to follow me again. At that point, I had more followers than him so he asked me and some other people if we would work together for promotions and that kind of thing. From then on we started talking – and never really stopped since. Three months later, he was in Europe and came to the Netherlands. Now he has a lot more followers than me, but it used to be the other way around. I think it’s super funny!
You often describe working with your horses in a positive way. How would you describe that approach to someone unfamiliar with it?
It’s not always easy, but I always try to think that the horse wants to find the right answer. Since they can’t literally ask with words – they have to try it out instead. Every time a horse tries something – even if it’s the wrong answer – it’s still one step closer to doing the right thing. This means that every time they’re doing the right thing you have to reward them a lot and let them know how good it was. Working in a positive way is all about the solution!
What happens when you’re working with horses in a positive way is that they open up to trying more things. They become more confident in themselves and aren’t scared to make a mistake. You can compare it to going to school for example. Imagine you are asked something and give the wrong answer: Will you try and answer again if the teacher gets angry with you? Probably not.
If you have this positive approach I believe the horse will try more – and enjoy training more!
It’s very logical, but not always very easy. Especially when something was super easy yesterday, but does not work today. But there’s always a reason for it, we can’t forget that.
You travel around Europe doing performances with your horses. Do unexpected things often happen during your performances?
Often when I go into the arena I do not know what will happen. Sometimes my horses can be very energetic – sometimes not really into it. When I’m doing shows with my pony I always have to make sure it’s safe around. One time I did a show with just dressage fencing, and he jumped out! Another time we were at this big indoor arena with beautiful grass and flower decorations. At one point he saw himself on the big screen and thought it was another horse. He started running and jumped over the fence into the beautiful decorations, haha.
If I have a headset on it’s not a problem, because then I can explain to the audience what’s happening and how I will try and solve the situation. I also believe people can relate to their own horses being a bit stubborn and cheeky now and then, showing a bit of character.
On the other hand, if I have like 5 minutes with music and spotlights and the horse does something like that – it’s obviously a bit harder to make it look as graceful as possible.
It’s not always fun when unexpected things happen, but I’m sure the audience enjoys it, haha!
What are the most important lessons you have learned from performing with your horses?
Since I’m talking to the audience through a headset during my shows, I proceed with very small steps to let them know what I’m doing. That puts me in a different mindset where I learn more about my horses and why they act the way they do. I also love to share my approach of working with horses in a positive way with other people. My horses and I are doing this together, and we’re enjoying ourselves and having fun!
Sometimes I believe we all need a reminder of the importance of having fun with your horse!
What qualities do you look for in a horse before you start working with it? What qualities make a good performance horse?
The horses that I have now kind of just came into my life. Until now, it has all been about a feeling so I’ve never really been through that process of searching for a horse. I also believe that all horses are suitable for this kind of training if you just open them up for it. But if I was looking for another horse I would definitely go for an energetic horse with a playful mindset. It really helps if the horse doesn’t mind you doing “crazy” things.
Have any of your horses been more challenging to work with?
I have an Andalusian horse and he was a bit aggressive when I first got him. He did not have the best start in his life and I believe the people I bought him from were quite hard on him. But we’ve done a lot of training and shows last year and he has really improved a lot. The struggle with him is that sometimes he just switches and gets in a blocked state of mind, which makes it very hard to get in contact with him. Most of the time he’s very sweet and the nicest horse ever!
I also have an ex-bullfighting horse, and the struggle with him is that he goes from zero to a hundred sometimes. I would like to help him feel better and find a bit more relaxation without making him a totally different horse. My main goal is always to make my horses feel happy when I train and ride them!
A while ago you shared your last performance with your horse Andorra on YouTube. Can you describe what that horse means to you?
Andorra means literally everything to me. Every evening when I’m saying good night I always say very clearly, “Good night, I see you tomorrow”. Because I want to make sure she’ll be there in the morning. She’s getting older and it’s a really big fear of mine to not have her around. I have spent so much time with her and she’s always been there for me since I was very young. She taught me everything I’m doing now, which I’m very grateful for. I feel like I owe her, because if she did not go to all these shows with me, then I believe I would not have been able to do what I’m doing today. She’s a very special horse with special energy. I mean, I love all my horses, but she always gets special treatment. She’s still very energetic and playful!
What are you looking forward to the most at the moment? Do you have anything exciting coming up?
What I look forward to the most right now is developing new products, and of course, doing more shows. That’s my favorite! I would also like to try doing more spectacular shows with special effects, nice music and lights. Something very extra! I do not have anything planned yet, but I hope it will happen – I’m working towards it.