Tristan’s early involvement with horses followed a fairly typical path – he cut his teeth at Pony Club doing everything from sporting to eventing – however, horses were in Tristan’s blood. Both his mother, who worked at a racing stable, and his grandfather loved horses; it’s no surprise that riding was much more than just a childhood hobby for Tristan, or that he was on a plane to Europe not long after he finished school, where he would spend a year learning from Danish trainer Morten Thomsen. Returning to Australia to attend university, he later established his own horse training business near Melbourne and was soon breaking in around 100 horses each year, while also focusing on his dressage career.
Before long, Europe called again. With a thirst for knowledge and a plan to stay in Europe for two years, Tristan packed his bags and took three horses with him to the other side of the world. Tristan has never left Europe, and the thirst for knowledge has never left Tristan.
Eloquent, observant, and still in possession of the unpretentious Aussie sense of humour that saw his alter-ego Brett Kidding come to life, Tristan has unquestionably learned – and achieved – more than a lot after 12 years living and working in Europe. Between training and campaigning several horses to Grand Prix level, establishing his own training stable in the Netherlands, teaching clinics and giving demonstrations all over the world, he’s also developed an online training program, the TRT Method.
Many online horsemanship training programs exist, however, very few have achieved meteoric growth or created a truly engaged family of students to the degree that the TRT Method has. The numbers are quite staggering; in just over five years, the program has grown to include over 14,000 members from 60 countries!
Staggering though the numbers may be, they are not surprising. The authenticity with which Tristan speaks about his purpose – his desire to help people teach themselves to understand their horse so that they can in turn teach their horse to understand itself – is unmistakable. While many people are drawn to the TRT Method because they are seeking answers to their horse’s behavioural problems – whether they be general spookiness or specific issues such as trailer loading – it’s Tristan’s genuine desire to educate people for the betterment of their horse’s wellbeing and its ability to exist in a human’s world that keeps them there.
Some people would consider self-improvement and horse training to be two completely separate things. For Tristan, they’re intrinsically linked. It’s this holistic approach to his business, his riding career, his horses and his relationships that have allowed him to develop, improve and refine his approach when the world was disrupted by a global pandemic in 2020.
“The Covid situation has changed up the routine. For me it’s been a really positive thing because being in Europe in the horse world you tend to be doing a hell of a lot of things,” Tristan explains. “I was stretching myself between clinics and demonstrations, competing, travelling a lot to the USA, UK and all over Europe, plus we have the TRT Method online training, the web shop, and my training stable here in the Netherlands.
“There really was a lot going on. Covid gave me a chance to sit back and analyse what I was actually doing and decide what were the really important things to me, and where did I want to go in the future with the horses and, beyond that, with my life. I came to realise that running your life in a positive way is the most important thing, and then the business sort of takes care of itself a little bit. I’d been very focused in the past on running my business and scheduling everything around the business. When you first come to Europe as an Aussie, you’re moving from place to place and you have to build up a reputation. No one knows who you are, you have to sort of prove yourself and create a clientele, build a business from scratch. It had been my drive and my number one focus,” Tristan explains.
“As I look forward to the next 12 months, I will be focusing on the things in life that I want and that bring me happiness, and one of them is spending as much time with my wife, Katja, and my kids as possible, for as long as possible,” says Tristan. “Our first daughter Izzy is turning two on the 14th March and our second baby girl, Liva, arrived on the 19th February this year. Thinking about them growing up and all the monumental things that will happen in their life, I want to be there for them and be part of that. So I need to focus not just on my business life and my riding career and my horses, I have to also invest in ensuring I’m healthy, and scheduling days where I should rest or focus on my body, not complain that I’m getting stiff because I’m getting old, because of course that is a choice, it’s not a condition.