“Power couple,” “dynamic duo” “supercouple” — however you choose to describe them, international show jumper Andrew Welles and his wife, amateur rider Alexandra Welles, fit the bill. The pair have long been familiar in the show jumping world, specifically at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, both as fierce competitors themselves, in addition to operating Team Welles, one of the fastest-growing training operations.
Andrew and Alex Welles are at an exciting time in their life, with the birth of their baby girl, a new farm being constructed in Wellington, a string of talented horses, students and more. This duo is one to watch as the 2020 Wellington equestrian season approaches.
Alex, originally from New York’s Long Island, began spending her winters in Wellington at age 13. Moving up through the equitation ranks and into the jumper ring, now with Andrew as her trainer, she quickly became a force to be reckoned with in the amateur divisions.
Today, with her longtime equine partner XM, she is a consistent top-placing competitor in the Low Amateur-Owner division across the country.
Additionally, Andrew and Alex welcomed their first child in April 2019, Anderson Reese Welles, keeping the pair busy outside of the show arena as well. A regular at horse shows such as the Hampton Classic and the American Gold Cup with the team, Anderson is already an integral part of Team Welles.
Growing up riding in Minnesota, Andrew often felt isolated from the sport, not fully grasping the scope of show jumping and the opportunities available that WEF has to offer. However, soon after attending a clinic with trainer Frank Madden, Andrew learned of all the opportunities available and was determined to go all-in with his riding career and work his way up to the top of the sport.
“During my freshman year of high school, I came down for a weekend,” Andrew said of his first visit to Wellington. “I went back home, and my school worked it out for me to be able to come down for the entire Winter Equestrian Festival for my sophomore and junior years. From that point on, I have been all-in with the horses.”
Over the years, he became more involved in the sport from a training perspective. While continually growing himself, the now 31-year-old also began to share his expertise with his students, kickstarting his first business, Andrew Welles LLC.
The business was a huge success, with Andrew riding and competing a string of impressive competition horses, largely owned by the Itasca Group LLC, on Nations Cup teams and 5* Grand Prix classes while also producing young horses, in addition to helping train and instruct his students as they worked toward their goals in the sport.
Recently, Andrew made the decision to rebrand the business under the name Team Welles.
“Now, there is such a great group of people around me, with Eric Glynn working with me as a trainer and the other people in the operation who have helped us expand and take things to this level,” Andrew said. “It is not just about me anymore; it is about the whole team. I think that is how we look at it from a training standpoint. For both the horses and the riders, it is a team effort. We want to bring that mindset down to our mission statement, and I think the name is a great place to start.”
Despite the pair’s busy competition schedule throughout the year, traveling across North America with their string of performance horses and their students, Andrew and Alex are proud to call Wellington home, both for their family and their business.
“For us, Wellington has become home over the years. We spend so much time here between the pre-circuit, WEF and post-circuit, that for us, it made the most sense, in addition to loving it here, to base our business here,” Alex explained. “We had always wanted to have a farm in Wellington, so when the opportunity presented itself, we were right on it. No matter where we are all year long, everyone wants to be in Wellington, so it just made sense to make the jump.”
After purchasing their farm in Palm Beach Point East, Andrew and Alex have taken great care and attention to detail to develop the facility into one of the top training operations, for both horses and students. With improvements such as a new arena with high-quality Wordley Martin footing, a jumping field with full drainage and a new 24-stall barn that is under construction, the farm will host the highest quality facilities available in Wellington.
“It is going to be the training base for our operations, so I am trying to make it the best quality all the way around,” Andrew said. “We have some really nice up-and-coming horses, some really nice Grand Prix horses and having a facility that is top-notch gives us the best ability to prepare for big competitions in Wellington. We are doing a lot of the extra additions to the training routine, like a round pen, a walker, a treadmill and a spa for the horses — things that will really make a difference in their performance.”
Andrew has high goals for himself and his business. With the 2020 Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas approaching, he has his sights set on qualifying with one of his upper-level horses. While Andrew has experienced horses in his string, like Brindis Bogibo and Primo Troy, he is also looking forward to continuing to develop his younger horses, such as Chanel 479 and Idol H&H throughout the season.
“In addition, from a training standpoint, which is a very important part of what we do at Team Welles, we would really like to help our students excel in the U25 series at WEF, which I think is such a fantastic series that takes place,” Andrew added.
Wellington has afforded Andrew and Alex Welles the opportunities to excel to the top of the sport, create a successful training business and put down roots to start a family. Team Welles looks forward to a successful 2020 winter equestrian season in Wellington with a team mentality that has paved the way for a successful business.
Visit www.teamwelles.com for more information.