In this series, the Chronicle follows multiple riders as they seek to fulfill their FEI World Equestrian Games dreams in Tryon, North Carolina, in 2018. We’ll check in with them in the coming months as they pursue a team spot to see how they’re getting their horses ready and preparing mentally.
From Sept. 1-3, Juan Matute Giumón and Quantico Ymas attended The Spanish Equestrian Federation’s Elite Training Program in Krefeld, Germany, for last-minute preparation. The horses departed from Liège, Belgium, for the United States on Sept. 3; Giumón traveled with the team on Sept. 5.
Following two days of quarantine at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina, the horses are now in normal stabling. The team will continue their preparations until the first day of competition on Sept. 12.
This February, Guimon became a United States citizen, and he now holds dual citizenship with Spain. Below, he discusses his love for both countries and the current events leading up to the start of his first World Equestrian Games.
Even though I practically grew up in the States, I represent my roots and, not only Spain, but my history, my family and our culture. The feeling I get and the emotions I feel when I hear my national anthem or see my flag on the big screen—that’s indescribable.
I’m not saying that in the future something couldn’t change, but for now everything is just perfect. I have all the support I could ask for, and I get the chance to compete in the States and in Europe. I have the best of both worlds.
When I was in Aachen (Germany) with all the American riders—it was the Wellington (Florida) family, all the riders, sponsors and grooms that I’ve seen for the past 10 years, season after season. When they won the CDI**** freestyle and when I saw that they were getting great scores, I felt so happy for them and so proud; that’s what’s really special.
If life takes me on a different path and I end up deciding that changing flags and competing for the United States is best for my career, then maybe something will happen. I’ve lived half my life [in Spain and the States], so I would feel equally proud to represent either country.
For now, nothing is changing. I am happy the way it is, and everything is working out.
[The training camp went well.] It was three days of focused training camp to make sure everything was running smoothly, and the horses looked good. The national vet, team coach and director of the dressage department came as well. We were there for three days, gave a few training sessions, and immediately after we set sail for Tryon.
It was all very basic work, just to make sure that the horses were looking good, were in shape and looking healthy. It was three days prior to the trip, so we couldn’t really give any hard training.
Don Diego was at the training camp to be there in support of Quantico just in case anything happened, and also so that the national team coach could see him train and see how he is progressing.
Boots On The Ground
It’s a little bit stressful here with all the unpacking and moving.
I flew with the team, all the team riders and the national team coach and my groom. We flew commercial. The horses flew Monday, and then we flew Wednesday; it was quite an empty flight.
There was the option [to fly with the horses], but only the national vet flew with the horses.
Thank God everything is fine, not just Quantico, but the rest of the team has their horses in good shape. We made it here; we’re all alive and well.
We did a little bit of training at 6:30 [yesterday]. Everything is still up in the air; we’ll just try to do it day by day and see how it all unfolds. We still have until next Tuesday for the vet check and the inspection.
It’s really hot, really humid. Everyone is telling me that I will be fine because my horse has already been used to this type of weather, and in all honesty you never really get used to this weather and humidity. It is what it is, and it’s going to affect every single horse and rider, and we will all try to be as strategic as possible with the training lengths and the intensity. We have to be very careful to keep them all motivated and fresh.
I was born for this. I have been training very hard for the past six years. I started focusing on dressage and riding in the international league when I was 13, and every day the goal was to work harder and harder and improve little by little. With all the mileage that I’ve had over the years, with the different horses that I’ve ridden in the international circuit I trust in my riding, I trust in my horse, and if accidents happen it’s not the end of the world.
I’m not going to be less or more of a rider. We all know that things can happen in the test. I’m focused, and I’m ready. My horse feels good, and that’s a confidence boost, when you feel good prior to a championship.
If you have some challenges or you have some difficulties right before a big championship like this, no matter how confident you are or how confident you think you are, you get nervous or you get a little bit worried.
I’ve arrived to Tryon for my first World Equestrian Games at my best. I’m riding better than ever. Of course I need to continue learning a lot and improving, but up until today I think I’m at my best riding I’ve ever done. My horse feels good; I feel good, and we’re ready for the fight.
Looking At The Future
Last year I started having conversations with my father and with my sponsor that I wanted to stay a little bit longer in Europe and get the chance to compete in some of the World Cup [qualifiers] indoors that I had been following online for quite some time already. But for different reasons it wasn’t the perfect timing, so we decided to just return back to the States in October instead of staying [in Europe] until January or so, but this year it seems like I will be staying. It seems like this is the right timing.
Going to WEG already is a big step forward in my career, and I think now is the time. My horses are fit. We have a lot of potential to do a great job. Above all, to learn from all the big, big riders, the big names in Europe [is important], because even though in the States the quality is increasing by day, Europe still has the upper hand.
For my career it’s more interesting for me to spend a little bit more time in Europe and compete in more international indoor shows and learn from the very best.
Catch up with our other Road To The WEG riders: