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Dressage at Otomí horse show on May 17 and 18

By Mary Murrell

Otomí, a local development of luxury homes and recreational facilities, will host a two-day dressage competition on May 17 and 18. The location is close to San Miguel Viejo, only 12 minutes from the center of San Miguel de Allende. Surrounded by natural beauty, vistas of the mountains and Presa Allende, Otomí includes a state-of-the-art Centro Hípico with multiple exhibition rings, exercise areas and stables.

Dressage competition
Sun and Mon, May 17 and 18, 8am-4pm
Otomí Centro Hípico
Close to San Miguel Viejo
12 minutes from the center of San Miguel
de Allende

The Dressage at Otomí show will be conducted under the standards of the Federación Ecuestre Mexicana and will have many of the top horses and riders in Mexico. The show starts in the competition areas at 8am both days and will end around 4pm. It is a great opportunity to see outstanding riders and their horses compete from training level (beginner) through some of the most sophisticated and difficult dressage tests.

Dressage refers to the training of horses through a series of standardized methods for developing their natural athletic abilities and willingness to perform. The name dressage is the French term for “training,” and the sport requires the execution of very specific movements by horse and rider, working together as a team. Although it may look easy, it requires long hours of work and great skill to build the strength and flexibility of the horse. Often the communication between rider and horse is extremely subtle and difficult to see as the rider signals with legs, hands and weight.

Basic dressage is helpful for any horse because the goal is to develop physical and mental ability. Ultimately a dressage horse should remain calm, consistent and supple while paying attention to all the signals of the rider. Dressage offers training discipline helpful for beginners, trail riders and serious competitors.

Riders from Mexico City, Guadalajara, Querétaro and San Miguel will compete in the event. Each rider and horse team will complete tests comprised of a sequence of moves specified for the particular test. There are graduated levels of competition with walk/trot being the basic or entry level. As levels increase, so does the difficulty of what must be done, all the way through the highest level of Grand Prix.

Grand Prix levels are used in the most prestigious international competitions, including the Olympic games. A qualified official who evaluates horse and rider performance and gives a score does the judging. For example, a horse and rider with a score of 60 is considered very good and a score of 70 would be considered exceptional.

A special treat for spectators will be a chance to see Antonio Rivera, who has

competed for Mexico internationally, ride in the show. Considered by many to be the best dressage rider in Mexico, he has recently competed in Wellington, Florida, and is working on building a Mexican Grand Prix Level riding team.

Antonio is familiar with San Miguel through shows and also because of the dressage clinics he teaches here to advanced riders and others who are learning. He is happy to be coming to dressage at Otomí and describes the equestrian facility as “an optimum location for dressage shows.” He expects the number of dressage shows in San Miguel to grow because it is a location where the sport can flourish due to the “great atmosphere and complete scenario of activities for riders, their families and children.”

The Dressage at Otomí show is dedicated to the memory of Lisa Rochford, who was a rider, trainer and teacher of dressage here in San Miguel. She died in February 2014, and the San Miguel dressage community wants to honor her as a great equestrian and to show their admiration and respect for her.

The San Miguel dressage community will be well represented at the show with individuals who have been taking honors in competitions around Mexico. Mexico National Dressage Champion for 2013, Rafa Lavista, will compete with his horse Varonette. Rafa has lived here for many years and has been riding since he was quite young. With Varonette he has won first place honors in 18 of the 20 tests he has entered.

Rafa believes dressage is best explained as being very much like ballet. “It takes years of practice, and it requires you and the horse to do difficult things and to make it appear to be easy,” he said. “I didn’t expect dressage to be exciting like sky diving or making films, both of which I have spent a lot of time doing, but when we walk into the competition ring and I see the judges, I feel the adrenalin.”

Eugenio Canales, who also lives in San Miguel, will ride his young Portuguese horse, Delincuente Azul, in the third level test at the show. He purchased the horse from Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza who is the foremost bullfighter on horseback in the world. Eugenio is pleased with his progress and how well he has performed for such a young stallion. “I call him “Parcero,” which is the word Columbians use for a friend or a buddy. He has been very eager to learn, and it is my preference to train a horse myself and ride him at the higher levels of dressage before someone else rides them.”

Amy Spencer, who with her husband Michael Martin, manages the Otomí Centro Hípico, will also ride in the show. Amy came to Mexico from the US with her family when she was young and studied riding in Mexico City. She moved back to the US where she continued to study with top trainers and riders and to win dressage shows.

In 2006 Amy won first place for second level in the regional Northwest US Andalusian championships, then returned to Mexico and in 2008 won first place at third level with the same horse in Guadalajara. More recently, in 2012 she won Reserve Champion in Guadalajara at first level on Landseer, a very large Warmblood she will ride in the Otomí show.

Another of her horses she calls Charlie will also be entered in the show. He is a 14 year old Oldenburg imported from Germany in 2005 to the US and then brought to Mexico. Originally a dressage horse, he was ridden in jumping competition for five years and is now schooling fourth level dressage and Prix St. Georges, which is the first international level of competition.

Amy Spencer and Michael Martin, who own True Horsemanship in addition to managing the Otomí Centro Hípico, are both pleased to be in charge of the equestrian facility. They are sure more people in San Miguel will become involved in equestrian sports after having a chance to see competitions. “The Centro Hípico is the most sophisticated show facility in northern Mexico,” Amy said, and she expects both the number of events and the number of riders and horses coming to Otomí shows to get larger each year.

During May, 75 stalls will be completed in the stable area for long-term boarding and for short-term accommodations for horses brought to San Miguel to compete in shows. True Horsemanship will provide lessons and training in dressage and jumping, as well as boarding facilities, for riders who want to keep their horses where there are first class arenas. The facility has four oversize sand arenas and two Olympic-size grass arenas, as well as multiple exercise areas.

Be sure to mark your calendar for May 17 and 18 for the show at Otomí and enjoy a day in the country and an impressive horse show. The show starts at 8am both days and runs until 4pm. Admission is free and there will be food and drink for sale. Look for the signs for the entrance to the horse show, which will be just beyond the main gate into Otomí.

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