By Laura Scaletti
Portraits by Melissa Fuller
Mattias Tromp has traveled the show circuit for the lion’s share of his 27 years. Born into an equestrian family, it didn’t take long for Mattias to saddle up and join his mother and siblings, David and Emmy.
Originally from Holland, Mattias’ parents moved to the United States in 1983. “My mom’s a pediatrician, and once she got her practice set up here, she not only started riding again, but she also started competing. David and Emmy are quite a bit older than I am and they began riding when she did,” Mattias said. “When I came along, I just followed the crowd.”
With both of his parents having demanding careers, Mattias had plenty of time to hang at the barn with his siblings. “I traveled all over the place to horse shows with David and Emmy. With Mom and Dad busy working, my brother and sister were the ones who kept track of me while we spent our time at shows,” Mattias said.
Today the Tromp sibling trio still shares that common equestrian bond; however, this time all as professionals, with Mattias and Emmy running the family’s Beyaert Farm while David has his own David Tromp Show Stables. “There aren’t many occupations where you have the whole family sharing a similar passion the way we do. It’s fun we get to share this experience with each other,” Mattias said.
When Mattias was 8 years old, his family made a decision that would shape his future and eventually his career—they decided to build Beyaert Farm in North Salem, New York. With three children and a wife who all had their own horses, Mattias’ parents decided it would be beneficial to have their own barn. “They looked at it as a way to make the sport more affordable, rather than paying to board elsewhere. I don’t know that it actually worked out that way,” Mattias chuckled.
You could often find a Tromp tending to horses or chores around the farm in those early days. “We didn’t have grooms for a long time. We took care of horses before we went to school, then when we got home it was time to ride them and do barn chores again,” Mattias said.
At an early age, Mattias had the opportunity to work with some of the best in the industry. At 14 years old, he began working with McLain Ward in the jumper ring. Then as he moved into the equitation ring, he worked with Andre Dignelli, Patricia Griffin and the team at Heritage Farm. “I was fortunate to be a working student for McLain. He’s had a huge impact on my riding career. I don’t think it would be the same without the lessons I’ve learned from McLain over the years,” Mattias said.
One of Mattias’ biggest takeaways from McLain was to focus on the fundamentals and simple training methods. “You watch him and wonder, How can he work on such simple exercises and be so successful? However, it’s the simplicity and strength in the fundamentals that makes any horse operation successful,” Mattias said. “If you’re reinventing the wheel, you’re probably doing something wrong.”
While McLain’s focus is on fundamentals, Andre’s key to success is repetition. As an equitation rider, Mattias practiced innumerable complicated and technical courses at home so he’d be ready for anything he faced in the show ring. “It was so important for me to get that equitation background, as such a huge part of the business is built on equitation,” he said.
One of Mattias’ most memorable Junior experiences was at the 2012 North American Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Kentucky, when his week got off to a bumpy start but ended with success.
An hour or so before Mattias and his teammates were scheduled to present their horses at the jog, they decided to hop in their golf cart and grab a bite to eat. “As we’re driving down the big hill from Rolex Stadium to the Alltech Arena, our steering wheel came loose; if you touched the brake the golf cart began swerving more and more. Finally, at full speed, the cart hits the curb, all five of us go flying out,” Mattias said. “We head back to the FEI jog, bloody, beaten, battered, and covered in road rash. Our chef d’equipe, Ralph Caristo, says, ‘What were you kids doing? You can’t stay out of trouble.’”
Thankfully, the rest of the week was uphill from there. “We ended up having a great week of showing, but what a way to kick it off. It was pretty dramatic,” he said. A great week they had indeed: Mattias and his team ended up winning team gold in the Young Rider Jumper Championship.
With time spent as working student and immersed in the show world since his early days of following David and Emmy around, Mattias was ready to turn professional shortly after his last Junior year. “I showed in the Amateurs for three months; after that I was ready to go professional and start helping the Beyaert clients,” he said.
With Emmy already running the operation, Mattias once again followed her lead and joined the family business as a professional in 2014. By this time, Beyaert had transformed from the Tromp family boarding facility to a client-based business that included sales horses, client horses and riding customers.
Mattias’ favorite part of working with Emmy is knowing they’re always working in the same direction toward a common, mutually beneficial goal. “There’s no question of trust, working with your sister. I always know what her intentions are, so that level of trust we have is irreplaceable when it comes to our business,” he said.
Of course, working with family isn’t always rainbows and unicorns every day. “No matter what, your family can get on your nerves. They say you never fight harder than you do with your family, because you know they aren’t leaving, so you might say something to them you wouldn’t someone else,” Mattias explained. “Regardless, I wouldn’t pick anything over working with Emmy.”
Mattias credits Emmy for keeping the home fires burning while he and the Beyaert team travel to horse shows. “Emmy is our rock. She spends most of her time at home in North Salem, which gives us the ability to travel and not worry about our customers at home,” Mattias said. “Our clients aren’t left on the back burner until we return, they’re still working on their goals and taking lessons, and horses are receiving training with Emmy.”
In December 2020, Mattias and Emmy went from business partners to farm owners when they bought Beyaert from their parents. “Running a family business is difficult. When we were able to separate the business from the family a bit, it’s better for everyone,” Mattias said. “It also allowed Emmy and I to really make it our own thing.”
Fortunate to have a permanent home base, Mattias says adding the title of farm owner to his resume has increased his workload immensely. “My mom was very hands-on with all of the administrative details that go hand in hand with running a business; I didn’t have to worry about that at all. Now I do, and it’s so much more stress,” he said. “I just work more hours every day to get everything done.”
Since turning professional, Mattias has learned it takes a whole lot more than skill in the saddle to be successful. It takes confidence and financial resources.
While waiting to compete in Bromont in 2017, Mattias was reading “Mind Gym—An Athlete’s Guide to Excellence” and started talking to Horse Network’s Carley Sparks about it. Carley introduced Mattias to sports psychologist John Haime, who was working on his own book, “Ride Big.” Mattias ended up being one of John’s case studies in the book.
As a young professional, Mattias felt pressure to generate consistent results, which is difficult when you don’t know what your 1200-pound partner is going to feel like on a given day. John worked with him for a year to consistently “ride big” in the big classes.
“I learned that confidence is rooted in the collective of experiences, not your most recent round. Riders who get confidence from their most recent rounds can easily be shaken, because like it or not, a bad round is coming. Every path has bumps and bruises along the way, and when you’re more focused on the big picture, it’s easier to move past them and continue in a positive direction,” Mattias said.
With the “Ride Big” mindset locked in, Mattias qualified for the World Cup Finals in 2019. “It was very validating to me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go because by the time World Cup Finals came around, I no longer had those horses,” he said.
That’s one of the obstacles of being a young professional in today’s market. It’s become incredibly expensive to not only purchase a world-class jumper, but keeping them is another major expense. “I think that’s a huge disadvantage for young professionals looking to move up the ranks. Established professionals came up in a time when horses were more affordable than they are today. I’m not saying they had to work any less hard, but there was more access to quality horses at more reasonable prices,” Mattias said.
In fact, Mattias stepped away from competing personal horses for several years to give himself a financial break and ensure the business side of Beyaert was healthy. “We sold the horses we had and put a lot of that money into rebuilding and renovating our farm,” he said.
This spring, Beyaert bought three new horses Mattias hopes will help him get back into the FEI classes and Grand Prix. With Emmy and fellow professional Caitlin Boyle by his side, Mattias is determined to help all horses and riders at Beyaert reach their maximum potential.
“If I could make the crystal ball show me what I want to see, I would like to be showing myself at an international level. We would like to help our clients grow and go to national championships, equitation finals, Junior Hunter finals, Young Riders,” Mattias said. “These are all things I want to see us involved in and do.”
For more information, visit www.beyaertfarm.com
Photos by Melissa Fuller, msfullerphotography.com