Text and photos by Lily Forado
Maribel Alonso is a Mexican FEI 5* international judge. Her first international judging experience occurred in 1993. Later, she became a four-star judge in 1995 and was awarded a five-star judge status, the highest level one can achieve as an FEI judge. From 2013 to 2016, she served on the FEI Dressage Committee. She has judged at the highest levels worldwide, including at the Kentucky World Equestrian Games in 2010, the London Olympic Games in 2012, and the 2016 RIO Games as President of the Jury. She has a lot of experience in the European and Minors championships, as well as several World Cup finals. She served on the Dressage Judges Supervisory Panel in Tokyo recently. Maribel Alonso was elected as the chair of the FEI Dressage Committee in November. Today, we learn a little bit about Maribel and her opinion of P.R.E horses.
Recently you have been elected as a Chair of the FEI Dressage Committee. Can you explain to us your role?
The Discipline Committees are responsible for making proposals and advising the Dressage Department on several matters related to rules, appointments, education, etc., as clearly defined in the FEI Internal Regulations. There is 1 Chair and 5 members.
How do you now find the reception is for the Spanish Horse in international dressage competitions?
Nowadays, the Spanish Horse is more and more present in international competitions. The market demand has exponentially grown over the last few years.
When the Infanta Doña Pilar was still President of the FEI, back in the middle of the ‘90s, we started to see more Spanish Horses on the international scene. Many of those horses back then were ridden by riders from the Real Escuela del Arte Ecuestre in Jerez.
At that time riders like Rafael Soto and Ignacio Ramblas, among others, through the wise vision of Mrs. Rosín Fradera, the auspice of Alvarito Domecq, and the technical supervision of Mr. Jean Bemelmans, brought the Spanish horse all the way to the top.
PRE horses made their first Olympic appearance in 1996 in the Atlanta Olympic Games followed by the WEG in Rome in 1998. Then came Sydney 2000, and later a bronze medal for the Spanish dressage team in Jerez 2002, which was an iconic moment for the breed and for Spanish Dressage as a whole.
Over the years you have witnessed the evolution of the PRE in the dressage circuit. What should people look for when they buy a PRE Horse for dressage?
The same as in any other breed: 3 good and clear gaits. Normally PRE is very talented for highly collected movements, so if the basic gaits have quality, they are very likely to achieve high-level competition.
Do you have any fond memories of your first contact with a Spanish Horse?
When I judged them in Schoten, Belgium in 1996, 1997, and onwards. It was a breakthrough! Evento Flamenco and then Invasor. Great to remember the first stages of those rising stars.
What do you like most about the Spanish Horse?
Their willingness, agility, and nobility.
The PRE Horse is in demand today. What recommendations would you give to Pure Breed Spanish Horses breeders dedicated to Dressage?
Do not forget Dressage as an Olympic Sport, remember to breed with that also in mind. They have produced great horses in the past and we will see many more in the years to come.
I was in CDI at Las Cadenas last May. I was able to see upcoming PRE horses. The improvement in the elasticity and range of movement in some of them caught my attention.
They say the Iberian breeds are best at collection, more precisely with piaffe and passage. What can you tell us about this?
Almost every Iberian is capable of good piaffe and passage. In my view these horses always want to go forward, they are very sensitive and quick to respond keeping the activity behind.