Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 7
After she returned home from the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, Yvonne Losos De Muñiz realized she was having more downs than ups with Foco Loco W.
The 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Sierappel—Weingraefin, Wendekreis) had been eliminated in several Grand Prix CDI tests since she bought him in 2014, and their scores were hovering in the low- to mid-60 range, so Losos De Muñiz decided it wasn’t meant to be.
Foco Loco went to Spanish rider Borja Carrascosa who campaigned him in Europe, earning scores above 70 percent, before he went to Andreas Helgstrand to sell.
But after a change of heart, Losos De Muñiz has been reunited with the gelding, and they earned the win today in the CDI*** Grand Prix for the freestyle (71.08%) at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
“It’s better than making the Olympics!” she said. “I did it. When I came into that last halt, I knew we did it, and that for me was huge because I’d had so many problems in here two years ago. I couldn’t even get him in. [Today] I had moments, and I still got it. I still kept him with me. He trusts me, I trust him, and it works.”
When a potential sale didn’t go through last year, and after talking with her husband, Eduardo Muñiz, and Helgstrand, Losos De Muñiz started to reconsider parting with Foco Loco.
“It’s been very up and down,” she said. “I got him, and I had all the faith in the world in him. I’m very stubborn, and some people were saying, ‘It’s too much this, it’s too much that.’ And I sort of listened to them a bit, and I was going to sell him.
“I went to see him at Andreas’, he was there for a couple of weeks,” she continued. “I was looking for another one, and Andreas said, ‘I don’t understand why you’re selling him. I can’t get you a better horse than this.’”
Muñiz and Helgstrand asked Losos De Muñiz to get on the gelding and ride through the Grand Prix test.
“I said, ‘That’s it, I’m taking him back. I’m never selling him. This is my horse,’” she said.
Losos De Muñiz, who bases in Northern Spain during most of the year, spent five months “learning together” with Foco Loco, reestablishing trust with the help of Jose Antonio Garcia Mena
“It was trusting him and trusting me,” she said. “I knew he could do it, and it was trusting that I could do it with him. Jose Mena came in and helped me with some basics and gave me some homework to play with, then I’d go off and just do it. I figured, I’m alone in the ring, nobody’s there to help me. You’ve got to be able to do it.”
One of Foco Loco’s biggest issues was his spookiness, but at her base in Spain, Losos De Muñiz was able to work on getting past things and earning his trust again.
“It was amazing because he’s so spooky,” she said. “I was in a place that had emus, geese, goats, everything, so we went through it all. I didn’t look for the perfect moment, I learned to ride through the bad moments. When I knew I could do that, that’s when I said, ‘OK, now I’m ready to go to the ring.’ We’re always going to have moments, it’s how we handle them. I’ve never been more happy, and my husband says I’m stubborn, but thank God. Now I’m ecstatic over him.”
In the barn, Foco Loco is still spooky, but Losos De Muñiz has learned to work with his quirks. He’s head shy and was terrified of having a blanket put on when she first got him.
“He’s the biggest chicken,” she said. “He’s scared of everything, but he’s a timid scared. He won’t freak out, he’ll just literally sit down. He’s very head shy of other horses. He was an orphan, so the surrogate mare, I don’t know if she was a bit hard on him, because if a horse gets in front of him and the tail moves, he’s like, ‘Ahh!’ I think he’s been kind of pounded in the head a couple of times.”
Losos De Muñiz, who rides for the Dominican Republic, said after her win today she feels relief that she made the right decision to try again with the gelding.
“This to me is a real win, because I won. I did it, and I’ve got an amazing support group,” she said. “There’s something there, that power in this horse you cannot describe. It’s amazing. I’ve ridden hundreds of horses, and I’ve never felt this power. When you can control the power and have it, like the textbooks say, in your hand, which he is now for me, it’s a pretty amazing feeling.”
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