Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

The Story Behind The Story

Most news articles reporting on the Wachovia Jumper Classic At Beacon Hill would likely have led with the results of the featured $50,000 Budweiser Beacon Hill Grandprix, which was won by the venerable Olympian Joe Fargis and his superstar Edgar.

And while Joe’s victory in the grand prix was certainly a nail-biter as he went first among a tough field of nine contenders in the jump-off, there happened to be another compelling story line happening that day at Beacon Hill that perhaps wasn’t quite as obvious, that of Juan Carlos Gudino.
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Most news articles reporting on the Wachovia Jumper Classic At Beacon Hill would likely have led with the results of the featured $50,000 Budweiser Beacon Hill Grandprix, which was won by the venerable Olympian Joe Fargis and his superstar Edgar.

And while Joe’s victory in the grand prix was certainly a nail-biter as he went first among a tough field of nine contenders in the jump-off, there happened to be another compelling story line happening that day at Beacon Hill that perhaps wasn’t quite as obvious, that of Juan Carlos Gudino.

Who, you might ask?

Juan Carlos didn’t win a class or achieve a specific personal goal—he wasn’t even a competitor. Nevertheless, he fulfilled a lifelong dream when he won a raffle for a Mercedes and collected enough money to make a huge difference in his family’s life in Mexico. So, the report on Beacon Hill (p. 19) isn’t the typical news article about who won and how he or she completed that feat. Instead, it’s about Juan Carlos and his relationship with his horses, family and friends.

Amateur rider Tracey Weinberg, who trains with Joe Fargis at Sandron, told me about Juan Carlos and his experience at Beacon Hill, which led me to change direction and focus the article on him. Tracey said the absolute best part of her weekend at Beacon Hill wasn’t about winning any ribbons, instead it was seeing the joy Juan Carlos felt as he ran into the ring to accept the car. “Watching him waving his arms in excitement while the crowd cheered was incredible,” she said. “He’s a great person, and he so deserved this.”

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Stories like Juan Carlos’ are found throughout our equestrian community, although they’re not as readily apparent as those of the riders who regularly win the blue ribbons at competitions. It’s easy to become caught up in the glamour and the excitement that transcends the competitive side of our sport and miss those that remain behind the scenes or out of the spotlight. 

Throughout the years I’ve been involved with horses I’ve met many wonderful horsemen and heard some truly remarkable stories, but few have inspired the awe and respect that I felt after meeting Juan Carlos. There are many other equally amazing people and stories out there, and I hope that if you know of them you might share them with us too. Is there someone in your life who inspires you? Do you know someone who has overcome adversity to reach a goal or achieve excellence? Let us know. You can e-mail your thoughts to storyideas@chronofhorse.com.

I met Juan Carlos at his barn on a hot July day in Virginia. We sat on a shaded bench in the courtyard of the barn, surrounded by his charges, while he described his life, the challenges he’s faced and the education he’s received in horsemanship. And while he acknowledged that he’s come a long way on the path to becoming a horseman, he said the lifelong process of knowing and understanding horses is still a road he’ll continue to travel.

As with most any journey, however, many of the most gratifying times and experiences aren’t found at the end, but rather during the struggle to get there. And like Juan Carlos, some of the most inspiring people may be found not surrounded by cheering spectators in the grand prix ring but instead behind the scenes where the most obvious sounds are the horses contentedly munching their hay.

Tricia Booker

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