Welcome this week’s rider spotlight, Juan Matute Guimon! Born into a competitive equestrian family, Juan began riding at a very young age. Guimon continuously represents his home country of Spain at top-level competitions around the world and has achieved great success here in Wellington since 2008. Read more below to hear about Juan’s relationship with his horses, his goals for the upcoming season, and much more!
You have made a name for yourself and shown your talent over the years. This is now more true than ever following your unexpected brain injury and amazing recovery. In this 2022 season, what are some new outlooks you have?
2020 was one of the scariest years for me and my family. I was very close to passing with this brain bleed that just all of a sudden struck me. I can remember that I sat on the ground and saw my father walking towards me as I had just passed out. I do not remember the conversions, I don’t remember the ambulance, or the police that rushed to the barn, or the helicopter that airlifted me to the hospital. It has been the most challenging road to recovery with many ups and downs. I am a positive person, I have always been, but now I am even more thankful enough to the doctors and surgeons that saved my life. It was very emotional and heartwarming to have such a great support system. It has been quite a process, but I am forever thankful and it’s an experience that I would never give up or try to refuse or one that I wish had never happened. I am thankful to God every single day that I lived through this and that I’ve had this experience. I am thankful to have this scar on my throat that reminds me every single day to be thankful for what I have and where I am.
As someone who grew up in Europe and has had great success representing your country, what does it mean to you to now be such a well-known name in the international dressage community?
I don’t know if I would consider myself a well-known name, but I do feel like I am respected and that is something I value tremendously. Just as everyone puts in many many hours behind the scenes – at home training, working, goal-setting, and at times things do not always work the way we would like for them to be, but I love it. If anything, the respect I receive is valuable to me because of the respect that my father receives, as a three-time Olympian. It is the biggest reward that one could have, to have his children recognized and respected, and valued enough, so both my sister and I are very blessed and thankful for the opportunities that our father has given us and the horses that we’ve been able to ride.
How special is the relationship between you and your partner, Quantico?
Quantico is amazing; he’s the sweetest, kindest, and most generous horse! When I first started riding him, he was very hot – he used to be so strong in the arena and so sensitive that I would have to wrap my fingers because I would get so many blisters. Now, he’s a horse that I know and love, and he has given me his all. He has helped shape my career from the beginning, and he will always have a special place in my heart.
What has it meant to you to have your father as your trainer? How have you been able to separate the compassion of family from the intensity of training?
With my father, we are very intense at home in training or with anything that we talk about. My father is the most ambitious rider, I love him as my father and I believe that he loves me too and even though we might argue, that is just a part of our relationship as a coach, a student, and father-son. It is never easy to train with a family member, but to be honest I would not want to change it for anything. It is what makes our partnership so special, because as I said we love each other and the fights and the arguments always get the reset button at night before we go to bed. We always have a great time, and we are just enjoying it and having a blast. I wish that we could continue having these arguments forever and ever.
Which of your horses do you think is most similar to you?
I feel like Don Diego is the most similar to me because he’s a bit more relaxed and likes to take it easy. He is never hot or sensitive, at least not extra hot or sensitive. My father for sure would be like Quantico because they are sensitive and so explosive. I believe that’s why we balance each other out. We like to think a young one is overly dramatizing things and overthinking things, while the other is just taking it easy.
Thank you Juan for being a part of our Rider Spotlight series this season! We wish you the best in the future.