Sunday, Apr. 21, 2024

Attorney’s Journey Back To Horses Leads To A Star-Studded CSI5* Win

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As she prepared to enter the International Arena for the $385,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI5* earlier this month, Luciana Lossio could hear the voice of her former coach Marcos Fernandez “Joca” Alves in her mind. 

“Lu, go for it. You can do it,” she imagined him saying. “You and ‘Lady,’ you can do it. You are as good as them. Don’t be shy because you are jumping with Ben Maher, with McLain [Ward], or anybody else. You can do it. You guys can do it together.” 

In a start-list stacked with Olympic medalists and other household names, Lossio would’ve been easy to miss. The Brazilian rider had only jumped in 1.60-meter classes four times previously, and her Fédération Equestre Internationale record has just 46 results on it. In fact, she didn’t even know she had enough points to compete in the five-star until the previous Sunday.

But thanks to her confidence and a gutsy mare named Lady Louise Jmen, Lossio jumped to the top of the class held March 9 in Wellington, Florida, during Week 9 the Winter Equestrian Festival. It was her second podium finish of the season, after taking second in the four-star grand prix during Week 3. 

“It was emotional,” Lossio said. “I don’t have words to describe that.” 

Amateur rider Luciana Lossio topped a star-studded field with Lady Louise Jmen in the $385,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI5* on March 9 at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Sportfot Photo

The 49-year-old isn’t your typical five-star rider. She has just one horse jumping in FEI competition, and her days are spent at courthouses instead of the barn, as she works as an attorney in Brazil. For six years she served as a judge on the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil. 

“It was like a dream come true to jump that with my mare,” she said. “I was feeling prepared. I was feeling that I was ready to go for it. 

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“It’s unbelievable,” she added. “It’s possible we can achieve higher goals and higher levels of the sport in life [as an amateur].” 

Getting Back To It

Lossio started riding at 6. Her family spent weekends on their small farm, and she enjoyed every waking minute on the back of a horse, even eating lunch in the saddle. At 20, she left horses behind to focus on school and her subsequent law career.

In 2011, some of her friends who’d also once given up horses returned to the sport and encouraged her to join them, but she initially resisted, feeling she no longer had space in her busy schedule for an activity she once loved. For someone who once rode six days a week, the idea of only riding on the weekends felt foreign. Eventually she ran out of excuses and donned a pair of borrowed breeches. 

“I said, ‘God, how could I stay without that for such a long time?’ ” she said. “And I never left my horses since then.” 

Six years ago, her trainer called her about a mare he thought she should try as a 1.20- to 1.30-meter amateur mount. Lady, a now 14-year-old Brazilian-bred mare, isn’t an immediately impressive horse—in fact one trainer watching Lossio try the mare walked out after five minutes—but Lossio liked the feeling she got riding her. 

“She’s a kind of horse that she doesn’t jump too high,” said Lossio. “She gives the necessary effort to jump what you put in front of her, so if you put 1.10-meters, she’s going to jump 1.10, and if you put 1.60-meters, she’s going to go 1.60. She’s not that horse that impresses the first time that you look. She’s very intelligent. She doesn’t waste her strength unnecessarily.” 

Initially Lossio hoped to jump 1.20-meters with Lady, but every time they asked her to jump bigger, the mare gave it her all. While quieter at home, Lady perks up in the show environment and gives it a little extra. 

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“She has a good heart,” Lossio said. “She’s very brave. She never stops with me. At a show, never. She has a big heart. Sometimes I ask her to jump a very long distance, and she goes. She’s unbelievable.” 

Though Lossio no longer trains with Alves due to distance, she still values what he taught her and the self-belief he instilled in her. 

“He’s an example of super inspiration,” she said. “We can always win the difficulties that life puts for us. He’s not my trainer anymore, but he was always my trainer and I always have the lessons in my head.” 

In addition to Lady, Lossio has a younger mount she hopes to step up to 1.40-meters later this year, as well as two of Lady’s foals by Chacco Blue, born by embryo transfer, that she hopes will follow a similar trajectory. 

“It’s a tough road to be able to reach that level,” said Lossio’s husband, Rodrigo Cunha, who rides as an amateur. “It’s not every horse that’s going to be able to reach that level, but we have to give it a try. Today it’s almost impossible to purchase a horse that is ready to totally play, so we have to level up the horses.” 


A version of this article originally appeared in the March 2024, issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. You can subscribe and get online access to a digital version and then enjoy a year of The Chronicle of the Horse and our lifestyle publication, Untacked. If you’re just following COTH online, you’re missing so much great unique content. Each print issue of the Chronicle is full of in-depth competition news, fascinating features, probing looks at issues within the sports of hunter/jumper, eventing and dressage, and stunning photography.

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