Yvonne Losos de Muñiz & Liebling Fall Short of Fulfilling Olympic Dream

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Yvonne Losos de Muñiz and Liebling II in the Mid Winter Dressage World Cup Freestyle. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

BURBANK, California, Feb. 25–Yvonne Losos de Muñiz and Liebling II, seeking to fulfill a personal dream of riding in the Olympics and showing that tiny countries such as her Dominican Republic have a chance of making the big championships, fell short of her goals Saturday when scores for the pair in the Grand Prix and the Freestyle were not enough to win the single place from Central and South America.

A dispirited Yvonne said after the rides at this Mid Winter Dressage World Cup event that she and the horse had flown across the United States in a last-ditch effort for qualifying scores before the Mar. 1 deadline that she will take a break to spend time with her husband and two children who have supported her in the years long quest.

The combination scored 63.447 per cent in the Grand Prix Friday and 70.500 per cent in the Freestyle on Saturday thus dashing hopes of becoming the first equestrian from the Domincan Republic to compete in the Olympics.

Brazil’s Luíza Tavares de Almeida on Samba cemented her top ranking in the Central and South American group Saturday.

However, Yvonne’s Freestyle score would have placed her atop the group except for a personal best score awarded Luíza at a CDI3* in São Paulo organized at the last-minute with a ground jury that included three Brazilian national judges, a French-Brazilian and an Argentine ahead of the qualifying deadline.

The composition of the ground jury is against International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rules unless given special approval and whether that occurred is not known at this time.

“I took on an impossible feat,” Yvonne, aged 44, said of her effort that led her to get the ride on Liebling II just three months ago. The 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Lorentin I was ridden by Great Britain’s Carl Hester on the silver medal teams at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2009 European Championships.

“I don’t know any other horse that could have done what he has done–six CDIs in two months. I’m ecstatic with how he has performed. There are no flaws to him–you can compete him in the Grand Prix and then go plow a field with him.

“You always have to go for it and try. But there are certain aspects that wear out me and my husband. To be honest, I’m sort of numb. In jumping,  you knock rails down and you know where you stand. In this you think you’ve done well and have gotten better scores where you haven’t done as well…

“I think there needs to be more uniformity when it comes to Olympic qualifiers. It is too important not to be more fair. I’m in the United States competing in Grand Prix with 20 to 30 people in them, not sitting in my home country. Hats off to those who can do it at home. I don’t have that option. It is frustrating. It gets to a point where it wears you out.”

Linda Zang of the United States who was president of the ground jury for the Freestyle, said Yvonne rode well and fulfilled the criteria of what as required.

“She’s trying so hard to overcome incredible obstacles,” she said. “No matter where she goes, though, she fits in well with the international riders.

“I hope she has a chance to compete in the Olympics because it would be good for another country to qualify, especially now with South America having to consider qualifying in the Pan American Games at Grand Prix evel. It is only encouraging and positive that someone like Yvonne comes forward and is allowed to compete.”

This was Yvonne’s third attempt to compete at an Olympics. She won individual bronze medals at the 2003 Pan American Games in her homeland and the 2007 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

She said she is selling two of her four top horses horses, but will consider seeking to qualify for the next World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, in 2014 on Liebling.

Of John Risley, who had bought Liebling as a prospect for the Canadian WEG team but that did not work out, Yvonne said that he had been amazingly supportive as had Carl Hester.

“I feel bad that I didn’t do better for them.” she said.

“I had time against me. I wish I was starting the circuit now. I feel like I’m really ready.”