Juan Matute Guimon “Opens Eyes… Started Crying” When Sees Parents at Hospital, Father Reports

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The Matute family of Juan, Maria, Paula and Juan. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

May 23, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Juan Matute Guimon started to cry when his parents rushed to his Madrid hospital bedside and talked to him Saturday two weeks after brain surgery that saved the life of the 22-year-old Spanish dressage team rider.

Juan Matute Azpitarte who was with Juan when he collapsed May 5 following a routine riding lesson and his wife. Maria, were given the good news by telephone that Juan was displaying reactions at the Jiménez Díaz Foundation hospital.

“We ran to the hospital and saw him…” Juan told dressage-news.com.

“Juan opened his eyes and when we talked to him he started crying, many times in 20 minutes.

“So emotional, hard to explain…

“All the prayers around the world are with Juan.”

His daughter, Paula, first reported the development earlier in the day and later added: “There probably aren’t any words to describe what my parents were feeling in that moment but the doctor did find the words to say Juan is exceeding all expectations.”

Juan Matute Guimon has been coached in riding his entire life by his three-time Olympic father, first in Spain where he was pony champion and then internationally after the family moved to Wellington, Florida more than 10 years ago.

Juan competed at the European Junior Championships each year from 2012 to 2015 completing that division with an individual gold medal.

He moved up to the Under-25 division in 2016 and at the European Championships the following year took individual bronze after a successful Adequan Global Dressage Festival circuit where he won Freestyle gold in the Under-25 Nations Cup.

In 2018, he and his family became American citizens though Juan opted to continue to ride under the Spanish flag. He moved to Spain full time to go to university and to compete throughout Europe to improve his dressage.

Juan Matute, Jr. and Quantico riding for Spain at the Tryon World Equestrian Games. The results in Tryon qualified Spain for the Olympics in Tokyo. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

His campaign to make Spain’s senior team paid off in 2018, competing on Quantico at the prestigious World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany in the CDI4* against the likes of German superstars Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Steffen Peters of the United States while at the same time riding Don Diego in the Under-25 Nations Cup.

The results earned him a place on Spain’s team for the 2018 World Equestrian Games at Tryon. There, Spain was successful in qualifying for the Olympic Games scheduled for Tokyo in 2020.

The next year was spent developing both Quantico and Don Diego into Olympic team prospects while at the same time conducting clinics to cover the high costs of competing on the intensely competitive west European circuit.

Throughout his time living in Europe, Juan’s father has flown to Madrid to provide regular training and traveled with Juan to coach him at competitions.

This year was shaping to provide the fruits of those efforts.

First, Juan returned to Wellington to compete on the Global circuit and clinch an invitation to his first World Cup Final, to be staged in Las Vegas in mid-April as an event that was popular with riders and spectators to the justifiably self-described “entertainment capital.”

With his Grand Prix horses ranked second and third among Spanish riders on the world standings, Tokyo was shining brighter as a goal.

Then came the coronavirus that turned into a pandemic.

The World Cup was canceled on Mar. 13 and 11 days later the Olympics were put off for a year to the summer of 2021 in hopes Covid-19 would have abated enough or a vaccine developed that would allow the Games to be held.

On May 5, after riding under the watchful eye of his father Juan collapsed and was helicoptered to a Madrid hospital.

What was found to be a “congenital malformation” in his brain was discovered.

On May 9, he underwent lengthy surgery at Jiménez Díaz Foundation hospital’s brain neurosurgery unit to repair the injury to the brain. The operation was described as 100% successful.

Since then, CT scans of Juan’s brain have shown continuing improvement.

Saturday and the call by doctors for Juan and Maria to the hospital provided them with the best results so far of their son healing.