Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Kyle Timm was exposed to the best in the sport from a young age. He worked hard to climb the ranks ‒ from Pony Club to competing in the World Children’s Jumping Championships and at one point being on of the youngest Canadians to place in FEI classes at Spruce Meadows. He competed in 2008 and 2010 at the North American Young Riders Championships, and in 2009 moved to New Zealand, where he twice won the National 5-Year-Old Championships.
In 2012 Kyle began working for Apex Equestrian and the Toma family in North Carolina, and for the next seven years learned in ins-and-outs of the business side of the industry, discovering for himself what worked, what didn’t work, and why. He was selling upwards of 40 horses a year, jumping at all the biggest shows in the USA with horses he could have only dreamed of riding a few years earlier, and had generous and supportive owners and clients.
“I learned an incredible amount and I had a great business, but that year I had two reflective moments,” he explains. He’d bought and imported a horse at a fair price from a friend, and competed it with great success in the six-year-old and seven-year-old classes. “I had taken the time to produce him exactly as I thought he needed. As a seven-year-old I had a great client for him and sold him for what I thought was a fair price.
“When I looked back at all the expenses of buying, importing, and competing him, I barely broke even. This horse had done everything that I wanted and I had really enjoyed producing him all along the way. I wanted to do this with more horses ‒ it was my goal ‒ but the experience basically told me that buying fairly, producing well and selling fairly wasn’t a realistic career under my current situation.”
At a similar time he had a small group of international horses. Midway through the season he went to a 2* competition and had the best show of his life – finishing second and third in ranking classes, placing in the grand prix and winning the six-year-old and seven-year-old jump-off classes.
“At the end of the weekend I went to the show office so thrilled with my week,” the 31-year-old remembers, “and when I left, I was crushed. It had been the best show of my life to that point and it didn’t cover the bill. It made me question why I was doing it if, when I did the best I possibly could, it wasn’t enough. I decided that I needed to re-evaluate my goals of becoming a top international rider, or I needed to change my situation.”
He came to the realization that if he really wanted to try to become a top rider and produce the horses the way he loved to produce them, Europe was his best option.
Kyle had worked with Ecuries du Grand Veneur through some sales in the past, and they had begun to purchase horses in partnership to produce and sell. When Kyle decided to move to Europe in 2017, facility owners Edouard Couperie and Eric and Adeline Negre encouraged him to base with them at their facility in Barbizon, France, to see how he liked it. It seemed to suit him well; in October of 2019 he was on the fifth-placed Canadian Show Jumping Team in the €100,000 Nations’ Cup in Rabat, Morocco riding Grand Veneur’s Vagabon des Forets.
“I began riding more and more horses for them and together we have purchased and produced a lot of young horses with the goal of building them to the highest levels of the sport. Our goal is to produce horses for careers in which they will excel, whether this is an amazing hunter or equitation horse, junior jumper, or Nations Cup horse,” he explains. “This means that we are producing youngsters and ultimately selling these horses even when they are jumping at a very high level. Any horses that we are taking the time to produce, we believe in. Ultimately our goal is to see these horses with their match. My greatest pleasure is seeing horses that we helped find and produce jumping even better with their next rider than with us.”
A perfect example is Bentley de Sury, the horse Kyle rode in the CSIO3* Nations Cup in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain. The team of Ecuries du Grand Veneur had started working with him as a four-year-old directly from the breeder.
“He was always very good, so we believed in him, but he took time and patience as he found his balance, power and confidence in himself,” says Kyle. “He is a horse that has been produced in our stable with the same group of people supporting him since day one; his breeder still comes to see him compete. He is an incredible horse with all the scope, blood and carefulness for a big championship, I think he gives everything when it’s important and he knows when these moments are. I was happy that I could give him a positive experience and everyone else could see what his group in our stable has seen and believed since he was four years old.”
In the Nations Cup at the end of November, Kyle rode with a group of young Canadian riders based overseas (Tim Wilkes, Liz Bates and Vanessa Mannix), some of whom he was meeting for the first time and some he’d known since he was 12 years old. He focused less on the pressure of riding for the team, instead embracing the encouragement he felt from all his supporters over the years.
“On Nations Cup day you really feel something special with everyone behind you – from the Canadians at the show, our chef d’équipe and all the people from my whole life who have helped me. It makes me think of my first Pony Club lessons! It’s the good type of pressure, because I know how many people have helped me to get to that moment and I know that every one of them supports me.”
With his sights set on one day competing in every major championship, Kyle’s goals for the immediate future speak to the what is sure to be the longevity of his career. “I’m really happy with the direction my career is going and the people I have around me. My main goal is to do the best I can for them and for every horse that falls under my care, and this will always be my priority. I need to always keep pushing myself to be better and give every horse its best chance and if I do that, I know I will have no regrets, no matter what the end results are.”
Watch a video of Kyle and Bentley de Sury in the Nations Cup in Vejer de la Frontera: