Jan Bemelmans Happy About His Eventful Life as Trainer and Coach

Tue, 11/06/2012 - 11:22
Between Heaven and Hell

Recently retiring as Spanish team trainer after well over a decade on the job, Jan Bemelmans doesn't have any big plans for the near future, but will just enjoy getting back to what he does best. However, the Dusseldorf based trainer told to Eurodressage that he does not exclude co-operating with a new national federation again.

"I just want to concentrate on my home stable and my students," said the Belgian born German. "I also have some interesting requests from several federations."

With many great memories from his stint as Spain's leading man, Jan recalls one event in particular that was very special for him.

"The highlight of my career was the Olympic Games in Athens, where our team brought its achievements from the WEG in Jerez to perfection," said Bemelmans. "Also, we all shared a house in Athens like a family, and I've never experienced a more perfect balance of work and joy."

After fifteen years, Jan believes "it really was time to move on." He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and "felt it was time to look for a new challenge" even though "the success" was good about the job and "beyond that the wonderful working climate, in a wonderful country."

With absolutely nothing he disliked about being team trainer, Jan leaves his post with many great stories and hopes that Spanish dressage can continue to prosper into the future. Bemelmans marks Juan Manual Munoz Diaz's WEG Kur ride as one of the most memorable experience in his career as team coach.

"My funniest memory, well it's not exactly funny, but great fun, was the standing ovations a Spanish horse received in Kentucky. That was unforgettable. But the whole experience was incredibly rewarding. It couldn't have been better, again, not only in terms of success but also because of the many friends I have made in Spain," he admitted.

Originally from Hasselt, Belgium, the 63-year old Jan Bemelmans can look back on an eventful life as rider and coach. Time to catch up with the renowned trainer for a Between Heaven and Hell interview:

What's your favourite dish? Belgian Tartar with chips
What is the biggest intellectual joy for you? Spending an evening with Rafael Soto, talking about horses and training.
What gives you the most artistic pleasure? Finding the key to a problem with a horse.
What gives you the most physical pleasure? I still really enjoy riding, and it's something I wouldn't want to miss.
What makes you cry? Moments of joy like the one in Kentucky.
What annoys you the most? Losing time; I want to use the short time that I have well.
What does heaven look like to you? Being able to do what I love every day, and getting paid for it.
And Hell? Having to do a job I don't like and getting poor payment for it.
What is the most beautiful place you've ever visited? New Zealand.
What is the ugliest place you've ever visited? Still looking for it.
At what moment were you the happiest in your life? When I came to Germany at 17, I started as an intern at Benno Ehlertsen's. place. After a short time, he asked me to jump in for another rider at a regional championship -- and before I could think again, I was "Kreisjuniorenmeister" (local Junior Champion) in Hilden, mentioned in the newspaper and everything. That was one of the most emotional moments in my life.
When were you the saddest in your life? When I didn't get to be on the team for the WEG in Toronto even though my results would have merited it.
Who would be your favourite one-night stand? Sophia Loren in her youth

By Sarah Warne, edited by Eurodressage
Photos © Astrid Appels

Related Links
Jan Bemelmans Retires as Spanish Team Trainer
Bemelmans and Rash Return to Spain to Train in Preparation of 2012 CDI Toledo
Interval Training with Jan Bemelmans
Jan Bemelmans Keynote Speaker at 2008 British Dressage Convention
Jean Bemelmans Talks about flexible training at 2007 Global Dressage Forum

Jan Bemelmans Training Videos