Spanish Grand Prix dressage rider Maria Carnerero Morente came from a non-horsey background but knew she wanted to be a sporting athelete from a young age. Her first contact with horses came at the age of thirteen and she has never looked back since. She is now chief coordinator and trainer at one of Spain’s leading classical dressage riding schools, and hopes to represent her country at the Olympics one day. Read on to learn more about the very talented and determined Maria, her ambitions and top tips for success
Tell us about you and your horses
I began dreaming of becoming a professional athlete from a very young age. Striving for recognition in the world of sports, to me, means holding onto that dream, not abandoning the sport I love, and embracing many sacrifices, challenges, and hard work.
Born in Ronda, the city that provided me the opportunity to start and develop in this sport, my family, despite not being connected to the horse world, has always supported, and encouraged me to pursue my dreams, teaching me to fight for what I want.
While I’ve always loved animals, my direct contact with horses began at the age of thirteen when I decided to take the entrance exams for the Sports Leisure course at the Royal Maestranza de Ronda. This has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life, immersing myself in a world full of positive values, shaping me into the person I am today.
The horse world has gifted me unforgettable moments, lifelong friends, and even the person with whom I want to share the rest of my life.
Over the years, I’ve trained in diﬀerent places, always striving to learn from both positive and negative experiences. I combined my university studies with my passion for this sport, as I believe that knowledge knows no bounds. My eagerness to learn and embark on new ventures defines me.
Currently, I work as the chief coordinator and trainer at one of Spain’s most significant classical dressage riding schools, the Royal Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda.
Currently, I have four horses. The first one that came into my life was Shadow, an Oldenburg son of Scolari. He entered my life at the age of 3 and is now 11, performing at the Grand Prix level. Later, Vancouver, son of Veneno, and Drago, son of Don Romantic, joined my life. My husband and I purchased them at 2 and a half years old in Germany, and at 7 years old, both are already executing all the Grand Prix exercises. Lastly, Beata came into my life, a gift from my husband at just 6 months old. Daughter of Bourdeaux, she is now 5 years old and reigns as the queen of the stable.
How did your horses come into your life?
I had never had the opportunity to have my own horse, so when the chance arose, I started searching for horses in Germany to visit. When I mentioned it to a friend working in the same area where I lived, she told me she had a 3-year-old colt nearby that I might want to see. I went to see him, even though I initially wanted a 4-year-old horse to start competing. However, as soon as I saw him loose in the arena, I fell in love. He was small and very furry, but just watching him gallop made me think he had to be the one.
Vancouver and Drago entered my life after my husband Alfonso sold his Grand Prix PRE mare. We went to Germany to see horses, and even though we had seen Drago in a video, I knew he had to be ours—I fell in love with him at first sight. Vancouver was love at first sight for my husband.
Lastly, as I mentioned before, Beata was a gift from my husband. He was in Germany with his boss at a horse auction, and one morning, he went to a stud farm where Beata was and decided to give her to me as a gift.
When and where do you ride?
I usually ride from Monday to Friday at the facilities of the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, located in Ronda, Málaga.
How did you start riding?
I am from Ronda, so I started riding at the RMR in the Sports Leisure course, which is aimed at children from Ronda and the surrounding areas.
What you and your horses currently working on?
Currently, with Shadow, I am confirming all the Grand Prix exercises as it is a new competition level for both of us, and we need to be more secure in all the movements.
Beata turns 6 next year, so we are introducing her to new exercises like flying changes, half passes, and shoulders in. She’s a very special and sensitive mare, so I like to let one of my students ride her to feel and learn a lot with her. She’s incredibly clever and sensitive, teaching a great deal about feeling and patience.
My husband is the one riding Vancouver and Drago.
What do you love about riding?
Riding, for me, is the best therapy there is. Even though most of the time you dismount feeling frustrated because things didn’t go as planned, it’s the most peaceful moment for me. Riding, to me, is a sport. I believe I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I didn’t compete. But what I love most about riding is sharing it with an animal. It’s challenging to explain and make others understand the love I feel for my horses. I’m always concerned about them, ensuring they have everything they need and, above all, that they feel loved by me. I always ride with great respect for them, detesting those who get angry with their horses when things go wrong because, as riders, we are the first ones responsible if something doesn’t go well.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
In the future, I would like to continue doing what I do today, which is riding and training my students. My primary goal is to ride to the best of my ability, feel content with my performance, and, of course, I strive and sacrifice every day with the hope of eventually being part of my country’s team. I aspire to represent Spain in European or world championships and the Olympics.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
How do you deal with them?
As far as I remember, I have never lost my temper with a horse. I’ve only gotten nervous while on a horse, and my husband has helped me. I recommend having someone assist you when you don’t have too much confidence, although I have to say that things have improved over the years.
Do you have any rituals before competing?
I like to be calm when braiding my horses; I do it without them being tied up. Usually, I always put on my left boot, left glove before the right, and I prefer everything I do to be an even number.
Your Top Tip
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
Always do what I say, never what I do.
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Who is your equestrian hero?
Severo Jurado and Jessica von Bredow Werndl
If you could have 5 people to dinner, who would they be?
The five people who truly love me for who I am.
Favourite colour horse?
Favourite horse event?
Aachen and Ermelo WCYH
Favourite way to relax?
Be with my horses and dogs
If you enjoyed meeting Maria you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here . You can keep up with Maria’s progress and check out her instagram page here