Yvonne Losos de Muñiz to Strengthen Caribbean and South American Presence at 2016 Olympics
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Sunday, April 10, 2016
International Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Losos de Muñiz has been competing in the international dressage arena for more than 15 years. She is the first equestrian from the Dominican Republic ever to medal at a Pan American Games. Also winning several prestigious international dressage events with the highest scores in the FEI Group E (Caribbean and South America), Yvonne will be riding in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Yvonne will be heading to Europe at the end of April for three months to prepare her training for the Olympics with world-class top coach Jan Bemelmans in Krefeld, Germany. Firmly believing in always having a mentor on the ground, Yvonne knows dressage is a sport where one is constantly learning. “I love the puzzle of it, pulling it apart and putting it back together."
Yvonne will do two maybe three European CDI competitions in preparation for the Olympics, “It’s a chance of a lifetime to go to Europe for three months and having Jan to take the pressure off me,” she acknowledges, relieved. “It will help with any doubts because I really want to be prepared. This is where the mental experience is so important.”
It was at the 2003 Pan American Games held on her home soil in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republican where she rode for the South American Group E and claimed the bronze. She was also a bronze medalist in 2007 at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, received two individual silver medals from the 2010 Central American Games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and, in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, garnered a silver medal in the Dressage Freestyle and bronze medal for third place overall.
For several summers Yvonne trained with Carl Hester and explains her experience, “With Carl it was such a breath of fresh air. He required only 3 days a week of fully focused dressage training in the ring, along with a couple of days hacking out [riding on a trail] that helped the horses with sights, sounds and smells. And, since all my horses are different, depending on their character, fitness and mind, some would need more cardio or hacking to make necessary improvements, but they were never drilled over and over, day in and day out.” She acknowledges, “Carl helped me to realize that I was the one who needed the drilling every day and not the horses. He even showed me that it’s better for me to do less. Now, my horses and I are better for it, even the young, up-and-coming ones.”
Beginning a four-year plan with her own 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Foco Loco W (translation “crazy flashlight”) (Sierappel x Wendekreis x Grande) whose barn name is Dobby, Yvonne has had her ups and downs with the horse because he is so massive.
“What’s easy in the training with most horses is a little trickier with him because of his size. He can do all the on-the-spot movements, like the piaffe and pirouettes, but the halt to rein-back hasn’t been so easy. He’s coming into himself now more and more, though.”
Her other Grand Prix horse, also owned by Yvonne, is 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Dondolo Las Marismas (Don Schufro x Romancier). “He’s a great backup and doing really well.” She also has a few up-and-coming horses she’s training for future championships.
Experience has taught Yvonne how to be on her game and she has a plan in place for each day leading up to a competition, from what to eat and how to stay focused to keeping the horse fit and happy. She has a checklist for her riding position to be as correct as possible before she even goes into an arena. At a height of 6 feet, she has learned that being tall requires her to work harder at holding her entire frame straight. If her position is correct and she balances the horse correctly in preparation for the next group of points to gather in each movement, it becomes easier for the horse to do his job well and gather those points. “I never over-ride a horse or get in his way to get those points.”
Yvonne’s road to the Olympics has been closely followed and greatly celebrated by the Dominican Republic people. Their interest in dressage has been growing, “More and more of my country’s people are educating themselves about the sport. It’s really exciting.” She is overjoyed at the support, “My Federation in the Dominican Republic is helping the general public relate to me and my journey. They really are wonderful and I’m so very grateful. It’s great to see the impact on the public and how much joy it brings to them to know they can figure out the system, the points, and the scores.”
“The reason I love dressage,” Yvonne explains, “is because it’s not your typical sport that, when you reach the age of 30 years old you’re done. You need the experience, the mileage to do this sport well. There are many levels to understanding with the horse, ranging from the competition arena, each judge and each coach. For instance, in the international Grand Prix level, a person needs a whole education on just that. It’s a new level of collection, a new level of training, a new level of confidence and a new level for horse and rider fitness. It’s important to have all the levels of experience.”
Yvonne gives special thanks to CRESO “Creating Olympic Dreams”, a Dominican Republic grant organization that will be sending one of her horses to Europe to prepare for the Olympics. “They’ve been huge in getting me to where I am. I’m so lucky for my family and for CRESO because it’s for the athletes like me. They help me with my dream.” Openheartedly, she suggests, “I would encourage other countries to form organizations like CRESO to help support all the athletes pursuing their sports and the Olympics.” Always encouraging success in others, Yvonne prepares to achieve her own checklist of goals through a strong three months training schedule in Europe for the road to Rio.