Juan Matute Guimon–Spanish Pony Star to Dressage Champion to Fighting for His Life
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May 7, 2020
Editor’s Note: Admidst concerns around the world for Juan Matute Guimon undergoing intense medical treatment in Madrid after collapsing with bleeding in the brain on Tuesday, May 5, dressage-news.com has prepared a brief recounting of his career that has made him so popular.
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Two years ago, Juan Matute Guimon embarked on a new chapter in his life, moving to Madrid from Wellington, Florida to fulfill his dream of becoming a top dressage rider while going to university in his homeland.
The 22-year-old Juan, who became an American citizen along with his family shortly before the move, continued to ride for Spain as he had while growing up in Wellington and becoming a charismatic and popular dressage rider, based on an abundance of talent, charm and a smile that never seemed to leave his face.
His father, Juan Matute Azpitarte who rode in three Olympics for Spain continued to coach him with frequent visits to Madrid, and he intended to return to Florida for the winter-long Global Dressage Festival–“I love Wellington and want to continue being a Wellingtonian,” the young Juan told dressage-news.com at the time.
As promised, he returned this year to compete at what had been home show grounds for most of his life that began on ponies to become Spanish champion, then eventing before switching to dressage to follow in his father’s footsteps.
This winter in Florida, he triumphed with a personal best score on Don Diego that likely clinched a berth at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas, later canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It would have been his first appearance at the global championship centered on the musical performance.
In the six years before moving full-time to Europe, Juan spent about three months most summers in Europe.
His first international championship was the European Juniors in 2012 on Don Diego, a Hanoverian gelding, and again the following year. In 2014, he rode Dhannie Ymas in the European Juniors and the same year made his first appearance at the World Young Horse Championships on Jamaicano de Ymas III.
By the 2015 European Juniors, he and Dhannie Ymas were placing in the top four.
He skipped over Young Rider championships to compete in the inaugural European Under-25s at Hagen, Germany in 2016,
In 2017 he was competing horses in four international divisions–on Copernico at the World Young Horse Championships, on Dhannie Ymas at Small Tour including the premier World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany; European Under-25 Championships in Austria on Quantico as well as the Nations Cup in Wellington.
At the European senior championships in Gothenburg, Sweden he won a special U-25 competition before heading south to Austria where he and Quantico captured bronze in the European Under-25 Grand Prix. The freestyle where he usually shone was canceled because of equipment failure.
“I plan to continue growing as a rider. to get more known on the international circuit, to get more experienced in the big stadiums, the big rings like Aachen, where there is amazing quality of riders and horses,” he said at the time.
“When I look at long term goals, long term dreams I need to spend more time in Europe.”
One of his first successes in his new life in Europe was to be named to Spain’s team for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September 2018. The squad succeeded in earning Spain a team start at the Tokyo Olympics, that have since been delayed a year to 2021 because of coronavirus.
Americans, Canadians, Central and South Americans as well as Europeans welcomed Juan at the World Games with open arms in a reunion of sorts as a member of the close-knit but inclusive Wellington equestrian community.
His career has been helped in that his father has been not only his coach and owner of most of the horses, but possesses expertise that makes him a trainer sought after across the United States.
For the past year, Juan competed on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in the Middle East preparing first for his World Cup Final and then for what he hopes will be his first Olympics.