NorCordia is a professional selection and training group offering unique sporthorse investment portfolio opportunities for both investors and horse enthusiasts. With locations in Kolding, Denmark, and Wellington, Florida, NorCordia specialize in prioritizing the welfare of horses and cultivating a harmonious partnership between horse and rider.

PSdressage sat down with COO and Co-Founder of NorCordia, Catherine Haddad Staller, to get to know the new, premier selection and training group which has been making a splash both nationally and internationally with not only their horses and riders, but also with their involvement in prominent horse shows and events here in the U.S.

COO and Co-Founder of NorCordia, Catherine Haddad Staller. Photo by Sara Hellner

Q: As the selection and sales gap between Europe and North America grows smaller with a sea of top programs and big names, NorCordia stands out with it’s unique sporthorse investment portfolios and original approach to the international sporthorse market. Where did this concept originate and how does it differ from a traditional program?

A: The concept of NorCordia was borne out of many long conversations with my co-founder, Ulrik Clemmensen. I had always wanted to establish a way for investors to profit through multiple horse sales, to build an investment model which could benefit investors in the horse industry. During the Covid years, over many, many video meetings, we decided to build a startup model toward that goal.  

At the same time, we are horsemen at heart and we wanted to build a company that not only made money, but also put the welfare of every single horse at the forefront. This is of course a daunting task because welfare encompasses so many factors:  feeding, stable management, paddock safety, footing, grooming, shoeing, veterinary care and above all else…correct riding! Thus, when you ask how we are different, I would say that at NorCordia we make sure that the horses we bring to market are not only the best they can be, but also remarkably well-cared for, happy horses, who are ready to serve the task at hand.

CIO, CFO, and Co-Founder of NorCordia, Frank Egsgaard-Fjord; COO and Co-Founder of NorCordia, Catherine Haddad Staller; CEO and Co-Founder of NorCordia, Ulrik Clemmensen; and Brian Hedelund Nielsen, Chairman and Co-Founder of NorCordia. Photo by Sara Hellner

Q: When NorCordia says “international” you really mean it. As opposed to others that exclusively operate in Europe and America, NorCordia extends beyond into the Asian market as well, with your primary base in the up-and-coming horse hot spot, Denmark. How did you come to settle in Scandinavia and how does your truly international approach factor into the kind of horses you are sourcing and presenting?

A: Our base in Scandinavia begins with the 20 years I spent training and competing in Germany and all of the contacts I made there, including Ulrik Clemmensen who happens to be from Denmark. When we decided to pursue my idea of sporthorse investment portfolios as a way to fund our start-up, Ulrik reached out to two other Danes for business advice. These men were immediately captivated by our vision and became our third and fourth co-founders in NorCordia. We all agreed to base our headquarters in Denmark because of the strictness of Danish business law and how that contributed to our accountability and transparency.

We source and offer horses for sale within NorCordia to appeal to a broad range of markets. Because we have so much experience in multiple markets, it’s easy for us to place a horse in an ideal location across the globe where we know the demand for that type of horse will be the highest.

Catherine Haddad Staller

Q: Training and sales programs in the industry are the product of top riders finding a way to generate income as well as provide themselves with top mounts to not only make a profit, but also bolster their name. This age-old model, while highly successful, has been primarily reserved for equestrians exclusively involved in the industry. In thinking of the bigger picture, NorCordia is inviting outside business-savvy people a new investment opportunity akin to real estate and other highly profitable investments. Why work with outside individuals who do not know much about the sport and how do they differ from traditional “inside” investors?

A: My initial reaction is “Why not?” The horse industry is $300 billion business worldwide so somebody is making money in it! Why not pull in investors from outside the industry? We have created a viable investment tool with returns which rival any industry. I think we appeal to investors without a lot of equine knowledge because NorCordia is a well-managed investment management company. Our investors don’t need intricate knowledge of the horse industry to make money—that’s our job. They put up the capital, we do all the work.  

As for horse people, I know so many people who spend all of their disposable income in this industry. But only a handful of people are making money. I wanted to find a structure that would allow clients, friends and family to invest in multiple horses with managed risk so that they could walk away with a healthy return.  

If you buy your dream horse from us and then invest in a sporthorse portfolio with NorCordia, at least your investment will help you cover those ever-increasing vet bills, show expenses and training costs!

Catherine Haddad Staller and Winyamaro at the Den Bosch CDI-W. Securing their start at the FEI Reem Acra World Cup Final in Leipzig. Photo by Sjoert.

Q: Investment is only a part of what makes up NorCordia. Your ability to partner and match horses to riders is exceptional and can be seen in the success of the pairs currently competing on the circuit. What does the pairing process look like and how does it factor into the success of the partnership?

A: This is really the essence of what makes us a successful company. First and foremost, we ask our trainers: If you could pair this horse with his/her perfect partner, who would that rider be? And then we set about finding that person. For instance, we might decide that “Super Unicorn, a fancy 10 yr old gelding, is looking for an up-and-coming international rider who expects to leave an unforgettable impression on the U25 centerline.” If a rider is horse shopping and expresses that very goal …well BOOM! Creating the right match is 90% of the battle. 

Catherine Haddad Staller and Sola Diva at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. Photo by Susan Stickle

Q: As we enter this newer era of horse showing where the world is much smaller and everyone knows everyone, it is difficult to maintain anything as discrete or secret especially when it comes to sourcing and selling horses. What kind of clientele do you find that NorCordia attracts and how do you source horses that are “exclusive” in a world where everything is posted online?

A: Our selection process is far stricter than most. We don’t just buy horses we like. We buy sound horses with proven show records, clean x-rays and excellent vet exams. We try each horse individually with a test rider to assess temperament, and our horses are placed with top training professionals in the USA and Europe to test their gears before ever offering them for sale. So we attract a lot of wary and weary buyers who really appreciate our horse selection and our honest presentation. 

Q: Outside of top grand prix mounts and prospects, NorCordia also dabbles in the showjumping market. With only a handful of programs successfully growing on both sides of the sport, what does NorCordia envision for the future of their showjumping program?

A: Diversification is the lifeblood of success in a sporthorse portfolio. If you are going to make money investing in horses, you have to find a way to manage risk. You do that by spreading investment over many horses, multiple disciplines, various locations and many different trainers. Our Jumpers are one spoke in that wheel.  

Vianne, bred by Catherine Haddad Staller, ridden by Hope Beerling, now in training with Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour. Photo by DigiShots

Q: Sourcing is only half of the process and while a good brain and excellent breeding make for a fantastic foundation in a horse, they are only as good as their training. What does your training process look like? Are there any strategies you implement in your program that make a NorCordia horse a “NorCordia” horse?

A: I would say that the magic in NorCordia comes from the trainers we employ. Horsemanship, good riding, excellent stable management. These are principles we hold dear in our company.  

Every trainer has their own system. It’s our job to place each of our horses in a system that works for that individual anima, and that is our strength. Our horses go where they are honored, understood and inspired to be the best they can be. This is what makes a NorCordia horse stand out from all the rest. 

Catherine Haddad Staller and Winymaro at Dressage at Devon. Photo by Sharon Packer

Q: What is the big picture for NorCordia?

A: My husband is really sick of hearing this: “Could you please cook tonight? I’m building a global empire.” That empire is a fleet of happy horses, successful riders, huge competition results and satisfied investors. I want to inspire people to come along on this journey with us and enjoy the ride! We are NorCordia. We are Horses for Life!

Get to know more about NorCordia and their horses here. Also stay tuned for the NorCordia Dressage at Devon Master Class presented by Running ‘S’ Equine Veterinary Services with Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour hosted Thursday evening, September 28, 2023 at Dressage at Devon presented by Kingsview Partners! COO and Co-Founder of NorCordia, Catherine Haddad Staller and young Australian dressage rider Hope Beerling – who trains and rides with Haddad Staller – will be riding in the Master Class as demo riders.


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