Where in the World is Carmen Franco?

She’s back in the CDI ring! Riding, on the Colombian team, in the CDIO Nations Cup at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival last week. I had a chance to speak with Carmen after her ride in the Prix St. George test.

Carmen let’s start at the beginning. How old were you when you started riding ?

I started when I was seven years old. As a kid in Colombia we usually went with my Father to see his family in Italy but that year he had to stay in Colombia so we went to camps. I went to the riding camp and I was so nervous I just cried all the time. But then….I got the Virus!

You mean the ‘I love horses’ virus?

Yes!

Tell me what you did in the riding lessons.

I focused on dressage because I was such a chicken. I was too nervous to do anything else.

And how did you make the journey from a nervous chicken to becoming a professional rider?

When I graduated from school I went on to study architecture and became an architect. But all the time I continued to ride. Then Colombian dressage rider Marco Bernal returned from time in Germany where he told me they showed him the art of being a professional dressage rider. I said well, maybe I should try this. I love architecture but I do not love being an architect. Marco found a place for me in Germany and I went and got my Bereiter qualification.This is like going to horse university. Medals of various levels as well as degrees are necessary. It is a horse way of living in Germany.

Was this a culture shock arriving in Germany having spent your life in Colombia?

It was hard because in Colombia, where I was born and grew up, we have grooms who did a lot of the work.In Germany I learned to be the worker myself. I was lucky that I got a family that treated me like one of their family. They taught me everything from sweeping the barn to fixing fences. I learned a lot and I rode a lot.

Did you go back to Colombia when you had your Bereiter qualification ?

Yes I went back and started riding horses and it became my life. Then 15 years ago I came to the United States. I had lots of work in Colombia but I felt there would be better opportunities in the US. I had to start from zero and get to be known. I was rebuilding everything.

And today you are riding on the Colombian team in the CDIO Nations Cup at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington Florida!

Yes! The Nations Cup. I have not been in the CDI arena for 5 years. My work has involved younger horses that I have trained up and then their owners sell them or move them on elsewhere. I have a student, Sophie, who has a very nice mare that we bought as a schoolmaster. She rode the mare in 3rd and 4th level tests but the mare started to get strong in the ring. So I showed her in February. Then at the end of February the Colombian federation contacted me. They were officially naming the team and there was a 4th slot still available. Our national coach Shannon Dueck said: “Carmen should go!” It was really a happy day for me. Sophie was very happy as well.The Colombian Federation know my level of riding and they knew I could deliver something decent It was very emotional for me as it has been a long road to get back into the CDI ring. It is super important for me. And …being on a team is fun!

How did you feel about your ride today in the Prix St. George?

Today’s ride was awesome. I got a 65.6 and in National shows I have been scoring around 66 so to get into the CDI arena with 5 judges and get this score makes me happy. The mare felt so much harmony within her. She was saying. ” We are here. We will deliver.” She was all business today. She can be strong but today she said: “I’m not letting you down. OK!”

What is ahead for you now?

I have a nice steady horse to bring up . He is a project and will be a fun horse to show when he is strong enough. He is a black Lusitano whose owner is no longer riding him. He is a super horse but needs strength. I am working with Ali Brock to help with this. Maybe in the 2nd semester of the year I will start showing him .He should be strong enough by then.

Do you have any family here in the USA?

No I have no family here. My friends are my family.

Thank you Carmen for taking the time to speak with me. I wish you all the best going forward and I look forward to seeing you in the show ring again in the future.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sorry I missed a couple. My Reader has been jumping several hours, so I have been trying to find them in my mail.

    Like

    1. anne leueen says:

      Dont worry about it Susie. I can’t keep up with all the blogs everyday.

      Like

      1. I really try. Addicted to it.

        Liked by 1 person

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