Seventeen-year-old Juan Matute, Jr. Sets Sights for the 2015 Spanish Junior or Young Rider Team
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Thursday, March 19, 2015
Juan Matute, Jr continues his rise in results, but takes the time to develop the base necessary to be a strong contender for a successful future. Riding six to seven horses a day, six days a week, all overseen by his father, Matute carefully learns step by step the way to ride in the competition arena with horses that willingly want to perform their best for him.
Riding 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding Dhannie Ymas, Juan Matute, Jr. won the FEI Junior division this past weekend at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival’s Florida International Youth Dressage Championships with a 71.29% in the FEI Junior Team Test and a 71.632% in the FEI Junior Test. In the Young Rider division, he rode 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding Quantico Ymas (Fighting Fit x Hauptstutbuch) to finish fourth at the Youth Championships, scored a 69.974% in the FEI Young Rider Team Test and a 67.316% in the FEI Young Rider Individual test, “Once Quantico learns to trust and believe in me in the ring it’s really going to be great. This is only our first CDI season with him. At home, he’s nearly perfect.”
Juan, Jr., son of former dressage champion, three-time Olympian and now coach and trainer Juan Matute, Sr, is taking the two horses to Europe this summer to qualify for a spot on the Spanish Junior or Young Rider Teams, on whichever horse performs the best. With young horses, he’s not only preparing for a spot, but he likewise brings the horses up the levels. Also in preparation for Europe, he has two other horses for the Grand Prix, Don Diego Ymas and Tarpan Ymas. He may also take a five or six-year-old for the young horse classes; he, his father, and the owners are still deciding.
“We’ll go to Spain for the summer near Madrid, my hometown, travel to two CDIs to see what team and shows we’ll qualify for,” Juan, Jr. explained. For Juniors and Young Riders in Spain, there are tryouts where the federation and coaches decide who the best horse and rider combinations will be for the summer international competitions. “It’s important that we all get together at one show. It makes sense and is great for getting to know one another.” The Spanish Federation creates A and B Squads for the Junior and Young Rider divisions to prepare for July’s championships in France. Last year, he qualified for both the A Squad in both FEI Juniors and FEI Young Riders. Having to choose only one squad, he chose the Junior division team and finished in the top 15, qualifying for the Freestyle. He hopes to do much better this year.
In Wellington for the winter school year where he attends the Palm Beach International Academy, young Matute shared, “I go to school Monday through Friday, and from Monday to Saturday I ride six to seven horses from 8am – 2pm.” A rigorous curriculum with teachers to keep him on track with school allows Juan the many hours of training, he said, “It’s great to be able to ride with my Dad and keep improving my position. I truly believe that dressage is the progress of both horse and rider. We, as riders, really have to improve before the horse; that way, the horse really can have the right mentality to improve.”
He continued, “I really treat my horses like friends. We are in a sport where we require the horses to do some hard movements, like for instance two tempi changes on a straight line. Keeping that friendship in a positive way works and yes, they also have to understand the line of respect. Together we have to get along to produce the magic.”
Riding in the winter from September – April at the Elemis Ranch in Wellington he shared, “I’ve been extremely fortunate with Cristina Danguillecourt and Javier Bacariza, Yeguada de Ymas and my special owners because they’ve allowed me the chance to ride multiple horses that have taught me how to feel the movement of a horse, to improve it. But each horse helps me to pass that along to the next horse. I’m like a sponge learning the basics of a horse’s motion and how to play with it, to make a horse stronger in their body and also in communicating with me.”
At the end of April, Juan Matute Jr., along with several successful up-and-coming horses, the owners of Yeguada de Ymas, his father and a strong team, will travel near Madrid to his family’s hometown to pursue strong scores against the best worldwide rider and horse combinations in Europe.