Equestrian Sports are evolving, have you noticed? When speaking to a professional that started their career even 20-years ago, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who could have predicted the changes that our sport would undergo and the levels of popularity that it would reach internationally. One of the changes that has contributed the most to the sports evolution is the access to quality events that allow athletes and fans to come together and watch one another compete and learn from each other’s triumphs and mistakes. With the advent of the internet and the accessibility of social media, networking and live-stream opportunities, riders of all levels can grow their personal knowledge of not only riding but horse care. Maybe most importantly, they can get to know their favorite athletes in ways that were not possible before.
A passion for equestrian sports and an in-depth understanding of the power of connection is what pushed 32 year old entrepreneur, Arturo Ferrando, to develop TopSports. A revolutionary online learning platform, TopSports uses professional athletes and their competitive programs to help viewers learn about all aspects of their life and what makes them the best of the best.
Ferrando was uniquely qualified to bring the equestrian sport to the screen. A lifelong equestrian who was born and raised in Venezuela, Ferrando had a competitive career that was launched in 2007, after he won the South American Young Rider Championship. When he decided to become a professional he moved to France and competed in FEI 3* competitions for four years. In 2012, Ferrando decided that he wanted to pause his riding career to pursue his other passion, technology. That pause birthed the stabling platform, Staller in 2016, which Ferrando launched and has grown with friend Pablo Jimenez. Once Staller was out in the marketplace, Ferrando was brainstorming what else could be.
“My passion for learning is what drove this project,” said Ferrando. “I was seeing how the e-learning market was growing exponentially and there were several companies that had already enlisted great minds on their platforms and I wanted to improve upon that.”
Ferrando knew that in order to launch the TopSport platform successfully, that the first athlete that they chronicled would need to be someone who was competitively recognizable, but also an individual that people wanted to learn more about. There was only one person that he could think of that would fit that description, and that was Israeli showjumping professional, Dani G. Waldman.
“Of course we had a lot of people in mind because there are so many top athletes. I had known of Dani for several years, but when I saw her compete for the first time live in New York at the GCL event on Governor’s Island it was obvious for us that she fit our bill perfectly,” recalled Ferrando. “She has a strong and clear message about who she was and what she believes in and it was impossible not to go with her.”
Waldman has spent the last few years making a name for herself both in and out of the arena. She has been a force to be reckoned with for the Israeli Show Jumping team with a string of horses that regularly showcase both speed and scope, as well as for her personal style – because let’s be honest, who doesn’t know about ‘the feathers’! For as honest and transparent as Waldman is on her Instagram account, there still is a lot to learn about this woman.
“Arturo sent me a cold email and you never know when you get those if they are serious or not but I had a chat with him and my team spoke to him and he seemed really serious and there was solid backing behind him to do something great, so we went for it,” recalled Waldman
This venture was a first on many levels for both Ferrando and Waldman. Ferrando had no background in video production or editing. Waldman had done plenty of interviews before but had never been in front of the camera from sun up to sun down for days on end.
“I was very reassured about how well-done this project was going to be because we literally filmed for 12 to 15 hours a day and they captured everything,” said Waldman.
After filming the entire initial series with Waldman during the Winter Equestrian Festival in the early months of 2020, Ferrando and his team broke down Waldman, her persona, and her program into six episodes that are each 15-minutes long. The topics flow easily from an introduction to Waldman and the opportunity to learn about her and her journey to the basics of riding, her approach to jumping, and ending by getting in the show ring. This progression seamlessly invites the viewer to feel as if they had spent an entire week with Waldman and relate to her as a person who cares deeply about her program and success.
“I think that there is access to basic education through books and short format classes, but what our sport really lacks is a way for people to feel connected to the individual athletes and professionals,” said Waldman. “After working on this project and comparing it to what we had before, I feel that you would get a glimpse into someone’s life in a barn tour, but you never knew their full job and that is something that TopSports really worked hard to overcome and I think achieved.”
“This platform is bridging the gap between the elite athletes and the community and allows enthusiasts of all levels to access information and use it for their own benefit,” said Ferrando. “Every journey to the top is different and there is not one single way to become a superstar in any sport and there is a lot of work that goes into it. Many times the hardest work is done out of the public eye and personally I think it is very important to hear those stories firsthand.”
The launch of TopSports could not come at a better time, with many people around the world just beginning to emerge from the confinement of the COVID – 19 pandemic. While many equestrians are waiting to see if the winter competitive circuits will happen as “normal,” this series will help people get excited to come back to competition and make important choices around their horses and their programs. It is fun yet thoughtful, transparent, masterfully shot, and the perfect way to pass the time as people prepare for what is next.
“I was astonished by the final product,” commented Waldman. “I think it was so well laid out and the way Arturo and his team put the episodes together felt like a journey. I caught myself smiling throughout the entire series and I was proud of it in the end. My takeaway is that it was a cool perspective on an athlete like our sport has never seen before.
“Our goal at TopSports is to not only create valuable content for our customers but also to share stories from the very best athletes out there,” remarked Ferrando. “I can’t wait to share this project with my community and find our next story to tell and hopefully expand this to other sports as well one day.”
TopSports launches November 1, 2020. Viewers can sign up to be some of the first viewers of the series by visiting www.TopSports.com and typing in their email address. Join our new community today!