The Passion of Juan Matute, Sr. and Yeguada de Ymas - Together They Build Success
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Tuesday, March 29, 2016
For over 20 years, acclaimed trainer, coach and three-time Olympian Juan Matute, Sr. has been affiliated with husband and wife Javier Bacariza and Cristina Danguillecourt, owners of the Yeguada de Ymas breeding farm in Spain and training facility in Wellington, Florida. With steadfast support for each other over the years, this fellowship continues to cultivate top horses and rider performances at the international level in the sport of Dressage.
“The teamwork is amazing in every way," states Juan. "They are not your usual owners; they are a part of the everyday program, whether at home or at a show. They support the sport in so many ways. They support the warmbloods too, but the Ymas brand is for the Spanish horses. They really work hard every day for us.”
At the Yeguada de Ymas Wellington facility, Juan oversees and coaches the riders and horses each day starting at 8:30 a.m. and finishing at 2:00 p.m., six days a week from August through April, “We have 25 horses in Florida and we adjust the training individually. This is what makes me passionate.” Half of the 25 horses to which Juan refers are Spanish lines bred and raised at the farm in Spain.
Juan firmly believes in creating a plan and strategy for each horse and that a horse’s training is consistent, regardless of whether a horse is Spanish or warmblood. As a top coach, he knows from a life of riding how to feel the connection and the throughness in a horse and feel what the rider feels. “I understand from the ground how to get that motivation from the horse. That’s the key. And, then I can go into the technical stuff.”
He continued, “Once you understand the scale of training, the classical way of training, the rest is knowing the horse, whether a Spanish horse or a warmblood, and knowing the rider and understanding the program for that horse and rider. It’s the daily program and the fascination of making a solid horse in his training at home that drives me. The competitions are just the fruition of this work. The training is everything.”
In describing the Wellington Yeguada de Ymas facility, he said “There’s an indoor ring, an outdoor ring, a grass field with a hill and a track for interval training. We have different options for the horses in their training. For instance, I can really move around the complex there while teaching and look at every angle.” He chuckled, “I make everybody crazy, but it makes them better. I can see them saying, ‘Where’s Juan?’”
From August through the Florida winter competition season, Cristina and Javier, share in the day-to-day responsibilities of the team at their Wellington facility while also remotely managing their breeding farm in Spain.
Among the couple’s many tasks, they look after and share in the progressive breakthroughs of Juan Matute, Jr., Pablo Gómez Molina (“Pau”) and daughter Natalie Bacariza who usually ride seven or more horses each day. Each rider continues to achieve training and competition goals and successes one by one on Yeguada de Ymas Spanish horses and warmbloods.
The breeding farm in Spain, purchased by Cristina and Javier 11 years ago is located just west of Madrid. Ten years ago, they added a full-time laboratory that includes embryo transfers and state of the art breeding technology with a full-time veterinary staff. Juan said, “Because they breed many horses, it’s a big effort physically, personally and emotionally. It’s so much about emotion with these horses. That’s what makes Cristina and Javier so very good. I have so much respect for them.”
With Spanish breed lines especially intelligent and powerful, Juan said of the Yeguada de Ymas horses, “The skills needed to train these Spanish horses is exactly the same, but you need to be able to adjust to the Spanish horse just like you would have to adjust to a different Hanoverian breed. You see Hanoverians with a very high neck line or croup high. A rider needs to learn how to adjust for that. For us, there’s no difference. When a rider knows the biomechanics of each horse, it’s good.”
Always the long-term goal for Yeguada de Ymas is to bring along one of their own Spanish horses and win in high competition. Juan shares in the hope for this dream, “After the Spanish Championships with horses like Invasor II and Fuego XII, it’s going to be possible. We just have to wait and see if we have a world champion. Each day is important.”
He continued, “Cristina and Javier are breeding a specific type of Spanish horses for focus on the high sport. It’s really difficult because it’s so new for our country. We produce a lot of Spanish horses in Spain, but not really Spanish horses for the high sport in Dressage. We’re learning which lines we need to wait a little longer, like in the warmblood lines. For instance, you know what you will produce from the warmblood D line or the F line or with the S line. For Cristina and Javier, it’s really new to know what each Spanish line will produce in their foundation training to the high performance. We’re building new ground together.”
With several of the de Ymas horses available, Juan said, “The Spanish horses of Yeguada de Ymas receive the best care and are also affordable. Buyers will be very impressed. The quality is professional and the farm really gives each horse the best upbringing possible.”
At the end of April, Cristina, Javier and Juan Sr. and the three riders prepare to take the horses that qualified during the 2016 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival for transport to Europe’s top high performance international shows, such as the Spanish National Championships, European Young Riders (this year near Valencia, Spain) the U25 Grand Prix Championships in Hagen, Aachen’s World Equestrian Festival and, with fingers crossed, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
With a heartfelt smile, Juan heartily praises Cristina and Javier, “They’re happy to help the whole community in dressage. It’s unbelievable. They’re great sponsors in Spain and in the States. They support the young horse classes. They support young rider classes. I have so much respect and appreciation for them.”