Text and Photos by Lily Forado
When one thinks of Wellington, Florida, one can’t help but think of horses. The equestrian community in Wellington goes beyond anything anyone can imagine. Riders, owners, trainers, photographers, grooms come to this horse paradise to experience and enjoy the winter equestrian festival at all levels.
Carmen Franco, a longtime resident of Wellington, is a professional rider from Colombia. Carmen can be defined as one of the most loyal PRE fans of USPRE WEEK. One of her hidden talents and hobbies is photography. Riding or behind a camera lens, Carmen is always willing to help and welcomes everyone with a beautiful smile.
How did you get started in dressage?
We actually do not come from a “horse” family. My family and I used to go on vacation to Italy every summer. My father was from there. One summer we couldn’t go to Italy and my parents decided to sign me up for all kinds of summer activities, one of them was riding. It was a jumping school, I was really bad at it. After a few years, the school started dressage lessons to help me keep going. I always loved riding horses but wasn’t the bravest.
After graduating as an architect in Bogotá, I decided to move to Germany to ride horses. This was a big step for me. I lived there for 3 years and received my Bereiter (in) degree.
Do you have any fond memories of your first contact with a Pure Breed Spanish Horse?
When I lived in Colombia, I had the opportunity to visit my friends’ farms. I was astonished at their beauty! After that, I had the opportunity to ride, for a short term, a few P.R.E.s at the club where I worked. I remember how smooth they were compared to other types of horses.
If you could ride a famous P.R.E horse right now, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt Fuego de Cardenas. It made the P.R.E. worldwide famous. But I would like to have Juan Manuel Muñoz by my side. I respect all the training and time Juan Manuel spent with Fuego de Cardenas. That was an absolute partnership!
For many years you have been involved in USPRE Week. What do you like the most about it?
There are many things that I love about USPRE week. First and foremost, I really enjoy watching the beautiful exhibitions of different P.R.E.s as they all live here in the USA.
I also enjoy the educational side of the week. It is fantastic. The social events are more than entertaining. The food share during Wednesday’s presentations and during members’ dinner, which is delicious. I have to say that the friendships I have developed through all these years are invaluable. There are so many nice human beings around the lovely Spanish horse!
How would you define the Pure Breed Spanish Horse? What are its strengths?
I always say “a good horse is a good horse, no matter the breed” but I always found that the PRE is exquisite to ride. They have a great combination of willingness and pride. I have had the pleasure and honor to ride different types and different ages, and they are always so cooperative, not because they become slaves because they want to be your partner and feel proud when you let them show their attributes. I also admire their versatility. I see them excelling in Dressage, Working Equitation/Doma Vaquera, Bullfighting, Endurance, or just being a horse for amateur riders. Their beauty in the ferias is incomparable.