Interview Juan Matute Guimon – Spanish newcomer with big dreams

04. Aug 15 | 20:23 | By | Category: INTERNATIONAL NEWS, interviews

Aug 4  2015

17-year old Juan Matute Guimon excited everyone at the European Championship for Junior and Young Dressage Riders in Vidauban/France at the beginning of July. Only 15-year old German Semmieke Rothenberger already seemed to be the winner oft he Freestyle scoring over 80 percent. But Juan, son of Spanish dressage legend Juan Matute, was even better in the end catching the gold medal.

In this interview he talks about his amazing only eight year old horse, about his life in Florida and his dreams for the future.

You won the European Championships freestyle – a surprise to many. How did you experience riding the freestyle? Was it just a perfect day?

Due to the extreme temperatures in Vidauban and the young age of my horse, we had to make a perfect strategy in order to keep the horse fresh and motivated until the last day. The first day we aimed for a very light test with no risks, because as a team we had no chance to be at the top. I placed 7th and was very close from the riders above me. The individual test I definitely rode for the medal but was “unlucky” and placed 4th. We were decimals from bronze!

My 4th place in the individual caused a big expectation the next morning since I was the last rider to go.

The day of the freestyle, Dhannie and I cantered around the ring with the attitude of a champion. I knew that the degree of difficulty was so extreme that I had to be really focused and determined. I could feel the pressure, but the only thing that went through my mind as I raised my hand for the music was “Its now or never, let’s do this.” The feeling in the ring was unbelievable, Dhannie felt like never before. He wanted to win as much as I did. We were ready.

What can you tell us about your horse Dhannie Ymas? He is very young. What makes him so special?

Dhannie is a Hanoverian 8 year old gelding and this is my second year riding him. His attitude, talent and ability to learn quickly is what makes him so special and different from the others. He is a very ambitious horse that loves to take on a daily challenge and in the barn he is an absolute teddy bear. He MUST have everyone’s attention…

What does your horse like and dislike?

Dhannie’s highlight is the canter. He has a lot of fun with the flying changes and extended canters. On the other hand, staying still in the halts is something we still need to work on.. He is already showing big talent for the passage/piaffe and I get the feeling that he loves it. He’ll moving to GP U25 soon!

Your freestyle was quite impressive. Where did you get the idea from? Did you have help with the music and putting all this together?

The freestyle was a bit of a family project. My father designed the choreography, my mother chose the music and “Dressage and Music” (a company in Spain that compose and make freestyles for top riders like Edward Gal and Beatriz Ferrer Salat) tweaked things out and worked on putting everything together smoothly. After many attempts and different versions my father designed the one with the biggest degree of difficulty. We worked on this freestyle a lot, fixing and making constant adjustments in order to have THE freestyle.

You are part of a riders family. Maybe you can tell us a bit how you grew up with horses?

I was around horses ever since I was born. My father being a three time olympic rider, loved the fact that I was attracted to horses and soon bought my sister and I a pony. We started riding in eventing and shortly after we began competing. I remember having so much fun and driving my parents crazy because I would go full canter and jump over obstacles with no control I was 8 years old then. In the coming years I would place 1st multiple times in the Spanish National Championships for ponies in eventing. It was not until we moved to America in 2008 that I started riding in Dressage.

Your father is such a famous dressage rider. Is it your goal to also compete at the Olympics?

Yes. I have many goals and challenges that I want to take on, but becoming an Olympic rider like my father and follow in his footsteps has been my biggest dream since I was very little. This dream motivates me daily to improve and worker harder!

Was your win in Vidauban especially moving also for your famous father? You were the first Spanish rider to win the European Championships…

Of course. We’ve worked really hard to make this dream come true. I feel really proud and thankful. This victory means the world to us and I think that it’s also a big motivation for many riders in the world that are my age. Our victory proves that EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE and that if you work hard and dream big you can do it!

You are based in Florida I read. Why there? Is your family also living in Florida?

Yes, we have been living in Florida for 7 years now. We had a tough experience back in 2008 during the olympics in Beijing and my dad had big pain in his hip so he decided that he wanted to stop competing and move to America where we already owned a house so that my siblings and I could work on improving our english and also with the hope that with time, we would all heal from the pain in our hearts from what we went through when qualifying to go to the olympics.

How does a typical day for you look like when being at the stables and with your family?

My typical days are quite busy! I ride from 8 until about 2, then 3 times a week I go to a physiotherapist who helps me stretch and loosen up my body in order to prevent future injuries. Afterwards I attend to school from 3:30 to 7:30. This school is used to work with athletes like me that train on a daily basis and travel a lot due to competition. They are very flexible with school hours and always motivate you to stay focused in your sport but still enjoy learning and work on your studies. Right after school I jump in the car and drive to the gym where I work on cardio and bodyweight exercises. I mainly swim, run and bike as my cardio. Almost no time for eating! (laughs) Then in the weekends only riding and enjoying some time off with the family and friends.

What do you like to do when you are not riding?

I don’t have many hobbies, but I do enjoy to travel and visit different parts of the world. I love music, I always try to find time to play the guitar. I sometimes grab a book and read, but I constantly find myself going on a day dream about competing with my horses in big events in the future. (laughs)

What do you especially like about riding dressage?

What I treasure the most about dressage is that in order to succeed you must believe in your horse and build a strong bond that gets stronger the more you know each other. It’s all a big journey in which you keep improving. Being a perfectionist is awarded, elegance and discipline is required yet you must be patient and determined. Throughout the journey you learn that you must make a lot of sacrifices and be 100% dedicated to your passion. I love being a dressage rider and although I miss the adrenaline from eventing, I would never go back. I’ve found my sport.

What plans do you have fort he upcoming months of 2015?

For the upcoming months our priority is to keep the horses fresh and motivated in order to start the season in January 2016 with full power. Since most of my horses are “graduating” next year, we will have to do some national shows to qualify them for the international shows.

Do you have a special philosophy of life?

My philosophy of life is to be happy and share my happiness. To love life, be thankful and to work hard in order to reach your dreams.

What do your horses mean to you? What is special about them for you?

My horses mean the world to me. They have made me the rider I am today. I improve as a rider and as a person each time im with them. They keep me humble but at the same time allow me to dream. They are always there for me, we are a team.

Do you have a wish on your list you certainly want to be fulfilled one day?

Although I have many goals and challenges I want to take on, my ultimate dream that I want to fulfill sometime in my career as a rider is to reach my full potential.

Interview: Alexandra Koch


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