Argentina’s Micaela Mabragaña Making Mark in USA
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 10–Micaela Mabragaña came to the United States a decade ago to learn as much as she could about dressage as the sport is not big in her native Argentina where polo is king and is making an impact at international levels on Florida’s expanding winter circuit.
The most common description of the 25-year-old is “highly focused,” a trait that led to the biggest payday in her show career when she won two small tour classes at the inaugural Global Drssage Festival event, a World Cup competition, in the still abuilding state of the art dressage grounds that are part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Mica on Cuatrero IV ( (Cuatrera x Adelante), an 11-year-old brother to Grandioso (Cuatrera is the dam of Grandiosa), 2011 Champion of Spain, was being competed this season for the first time in four years as one of only two starting combinations in the $3,000 Prix St. Georges and $5,000 Intermediaire I.
She rides horses for Hampton Green Farm of Wellngton and Fruitport, Michigan, and other owners who have been impressed by her work ethic and focus. Among them is Granada that she is riding for Sam Grunkorn of Bedford Hills, New York. The horse was ridden by Israel’s Oded Shimoni at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
Micaela first came to the United States for a short visit when she was 13 years old and met Lendon Gray, a U.S. Olympian who has dedicated her efforts to training children, creating Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival as the flagship event of her Dressage4Kids program in the New York City suburb of Bedford.
Courtney King, who was mentored by Lendon to become a 2008 Olympian, was a role model for Mica.
“I wanted to become a working student,” said Mica, whose mother lives in Finland, “to learn and grow.”
She moved to the United States fulltime seven years ago and was a working student for Lendon for five years. With little dressage training and few competitions in Argentina, she did not move through the levels as do riders in countries with a broader base.
“She came here when she was almost 17, as soon as she graduated high school,” Lendon recalled. “She lived in my attic, struggled through all the funky horses, did all of the odd jobs that working students do.”
To compete against the best riders her age she made the leap to qualifying for the 2007 North American Junior/Young Rider Championships that brings together the best riders from Canada, Mexico and the United States, even though she is South American.
That period, Lendon said, was pretty tough on Mica–“tough mentally.”
Courtney, meantime, was training and competing the top horses for Hampton Green. including Grandioso, until she was seriously injured in a horse accident in Florida two years ago.
Kim Boyer, the owner of Hampton Green, said that Mica “came to me highly recommended by Lendon.
“She needed a bit of support to get her business started and I needed a rider here in Florida following Courtney’s accident.
“She is extremly focused and hard working and rides like all the graduates of the Lendon system.”
Mica was invited to compete on a Hampton Green horse for Argentina at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, last year but it did not happen because of possible stress on the horse.
Mica competed in her first CDI Grand Prix two years ago on Granada and showed Nexus, also owned by Sam Grunkorn, in Grand Prix in January. She believes that Cuatrero IV will be ready for the Big Tour this year.
To Lendon, Mica is more than “a pretty remarkable rider” she is one of the two best talents of all the young people who have gone through her program–the other being Courtney.
Frequently, she said, Mica was not appreciated until owners started to notice she was so hard working, focused and willing to try new methods.
“The thing I love about her is her brain,” Lendon said. “She is always working, anazlying, experimenting. Every horse she’s had so far has had a glitch of some kind, not the classic big moving warmblood.
“I’ll get a text from her in the middle of the day, ‘You’ll never believe what I just figured out.’ She is so willing to do the slightly unorthodox. That’s what I love about her. She is so willing to try whatever she has to to make it better.”
From a year ago, Mica has been on her own but is getting help from Lendon as well as Kim Boyer. As Lendon no longer rides or operates a stable business, some of her former clients work with Mica.