Harrie Smolders grew up with his parents and his sister in the small village of Lage-Mierde in Brabant. Horses have been playing a part in his life right from childhood. His father has always been a horse-lover, keen on both the breeding and the jumping kind. Harrie was 8 years old when he started riding a pony. The reason was the impending sale of his sister’s pony. Harrie was certainly no hero in the beginning. The take-off boards had to be dug into the ground before Harrie would even consider risking a little jump. He was also a football fanatic up to the age of 16.

In his pony years Harrie managed to win several national titles in jumping, as well as in dressage and eventing.

Having obtained his Havo certificate, Harrie swapped Brabant for Meppel in Drente at the age of 18. For more than 4 years he rode for the stable of former European champion Johan Heins. Here he got a lot of experience in coaching gifted young horses. In 2002 Harrie made the switch-over to the stable of Axel Verlooy.

Harrie lives together with his girlfriend Inge and his little sons Pim and Siep in Lage-Mierde and commutes every day to the Belgian town of Grobbendonk where the stable is settled.

With the Verlooy family and the team, Harrie has worked real hard to build an international sporting career. Pushing like this has gained Harrie at the moment a seat in the top 30 of the world rankings.