Podcast Episode 33: Maria Caetano | Breaking Records with Lusitano Power

In this podcast, we speak with Portugal International Grand Prix rider, Maria Caetano. Representing Portugal, she has competed at two World Equestrian Games and at six European Dressage Championships. Maria and her stallion Coroado wrote history for the Lusitano breed by becoming the first pair ever to crack the magical 80% barrier in a Kur to Music at the 2018 CDI-W Mechelen.⁠ We speak with Maria about shifting to dressage, cultural heritage with Lusitano breed, international experience, and future goals. ⁠To keep up with her journey, you can follow Maria on Instagram @mariamcaetano

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Full Transcript Expand to full transcript

Natasha (00:00):

Welcome to The Your Riding Success Podcast. My name is Natasha Althoff and I'm a Grand Prix Dressage Rider from Australia, author of three books and a leading online trainer of riders all around the world, wanting to take their riding to the next level. I'm also a shopaholic, mother of two amazing children and fixed with helping riders be all they can be each week. I'm going to bring in new stories of inspiration, ideas, and strategies of how to make real progress in your riding and give you actionable advice on overcoming riding fear and anxiety, so you can take a riding to the next level and be the rider you dream to be. So let's get into today's episode.

Natasha (0:36):

I'm so excited to talk to you. You are one of my heroes. I just, I'm sorry. I don't know if you know anything about me. I'm, I'm obsessed with black friesians, but I'm quite impartial to white ones as well. So let's, let's get started. When did you start getting into horses? Were you part of a horsey family? How did it all start?

Maria (0:57):

Yeah, well, actually, since I was born, I was in contact with the horses. Uh, so in my family, we, we breed horses. We also have a big farm with cattle. So I started riding in the farm since I was three, I think.  And, um, well I love to ride in the farm to help people to put the cattle together and everything things we do in the farm. And then, uh, I started competing in working equitation. Uh, I don't know if you know the, the, yeah, so we're actually competing in working equitation and almost at the same time, I started also with dressage around my 12, 13 years old. Then I started competing and, um, then more seriously, I started as young rider doing, um, international championships, uh, um, in 2005, I did my first European championships as a young rider.

Natasha (2:04):

And that was dressage? What made you do the shift from working equitation to just dressage?


Maria (2:13):

Uh, then I w I had the goal to, to reach higher stages. And of course then in working equitation, we have already world championships and so on, but that dream about Olympics and World Equestrian Games, Then I decided to follow only the dressage since 2005. I've been always in the team for Portugal Young Rider then rather be lucky to have a horse in every year that could help me to be in the team, uh, in big championships, like Europeans, World Equestrian Games. So since then too nowadays, I I've been always in the Portuguese team representing my country and with Lusitano mainly. So it's a big way too easy. So we're going unpack this well it's um, it was curious because in the beginning I was studying, I studied business, um, in school. Yes. And actually I was teaching in also in the, in the university and at the same time I was riding for, for a long time. I keep, I kept my both careers. Um, and then, uh, around 2008, I think I decided, uh, well, 2010, it, I decided to quit my business job and yeah. And, um, and to be a professional in the dressage world. Um, yeah,


Natasha (3:56):

So let's let, let me try and reverse engineer this, um, because you're just saying, wow, I ride horses and then I want to go to the peace of you wanted Olympics, world, world championships. You wanted the, the lights. Did you believe you could, was there anything around you that was like, who do you think you are? And of course you can't do that. And not on a Lucitano.

Maria (04:20):

No, actually I went, when was doing the, the working equitation, uh, I used to travel to, with my team, with the Portuguese team of working equitation to make some shows like Equitana, and also in, uh, in some, in some championships in Germany. And I saw the big stages and the peak riders and I wanted to be there. I never had it in my mind that was really, really possible, but I knew that I would like to work for it and to, and to give my best for it. And then also in my, all my holidays, I traveled to Germany since I was 14. I used to travel to Germany to make clinics and like to work as a working student and assistance rider to improve my skills. But my, my main focus was always to, to be better on my, on my technique. And then I had the also lucky to have good horses around me. Also, my parents helped me a lot in the beginning, uh, finding the right horses for me to start like a schoolmaster older, the steps were clearly done. And well, then I also had some horses from my breeding and altogether.

Natasha (05:44):

It's awesome. Okay. So, um, was it, It was always going to be a Lucitano. I like, I love this. Um, you, you breed them, your family bred them. Um, was, do you, do you look at a horse and do you go and assess it by its breed? Or is it just, it happens to be that, or if it happens to be whatever you just, it's the horse that's in front of you, you don't really see.

Maria (06:06):

Yeah, actually that's the truth. I like the horse and the horse that helps me to reach my goals, but when I can do it with a Lucitano, it gives me a special, a special pleasure of course, because it's the horse for my country and it's also amazing to ride them because they give it all for us. It's a kind of breed that sometimes you see the Warmbloods. In the past some good ones. And also now, but when, when you have that feeling inside of the arena, that of course a Warmblood can trot like flying and they have, they are strong, stronger than those Lucitano. And, but then those Lucitano, sometimes you see, it's not so strong, but they give all he has with, with the heart, you know, and the emotions, he, those eternal gifts, not only for us, but also to the public, to the audience. It's really amazing.

Natasha (07:01):

Aw. I love it. Yeah. So you really do feel that that breed does, want to perform and, and gives you just that little bit more than what you've experienced in the moment.

Maria (07:14):

Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I love it.

Natasha (07:16):

Oh, that just makes me feel so cool. Very cool. So how did It feel I want to go to this moment when you bro. I like just even saying it gives me goosebumps and I was not there. I was not part of it, but you cracked with an 80% in a Kur to music at the 2018 CDI with a Lucitano. Did you think it was possible? Did you go in there going, come on we've we've got the 80. What was the thinking behind that moment at the time, at the moment?

Maria (07:45):

No, no. Well, I knew that one Lucitano, one day. I didn't know if it was with me or not. You'll read that score. I was sure about it. Um, and even more in the, in the future, I really believe on it, but I didn't know that it was at that moment or even that year or that season. So it was the horse was in a really good shape at the time. And we were competing very often because we were doing the world cup season, trying to qualify for the world cup, finals, and Coroado was in a really good condition. We were competing very often. What gives us better, better feeling every competition, but actually in that day, from the Grand Prix, to the freestyle, he had not a good night, he was not feeling well, was not eating. So I spent with my groom and with my vet, we spend all the nights with the horse and we really spent hours at with the horse, but at the end it was nothing serious. But anyway, I got into the arena for the Kur for the freestyle. And I was like, very careful, let me ride every step and feel how he, how he feels. And I was so focused in every exercise and in every feeling the horse was giving to me that at the end, I knew that I had done a very correct and very good performance with when I heard the 80%. I could not believe, but because I was so thinking only about the feeling and how he's feeling in the health and in the body, the older the audience was clapping. And I said, man, it was really good. Of course, when I saw the score, it was amazing.

Natasha (09:47):

Did you cry? Yeah.

Maria (9:48):

Yeah. Sure. I cry easily to good things.


Natasha (9:59):

Yeah. Yeah. That's amazing. So, um, that happened, what did that do? Cause it seems like you had that unshakeable belief, that a Lucitano will do this. Whether or not it's, whether it's a horse, we'll do that. So what is now your belief around what the horse and maybe even you and the horse can do. I'd love to know?


Maria (10:19):

I think we can, I think we can reach higher and higher stages. And also now after that, I break my, my personal best again, I broke my best and my best again, in the same, in the same competition. One year later in the world cup, we did the 80.9, almost 81%.

Maria (12:20):

And then, and also in the Rotterdam that the Portuguese team who could get the Olympic qualification with higher scores than the year before. So I think we are rising step by step. Not only me, also the other Lucitano’s in the team, the other Portugese riders. The breeders are doing a great job breeding. And the, also that the riders are believing more and more in the horses in those Lucitano breeds. So I think we have a very small scale in what concerns, the number of mares and what breeding mares and the number of horses in general. But we see the results comparing with the scale of the, the, the sports horses or warmbloods. Yes, it's really amazing. So I believe, of course not in a big number of horses in the high sport, but I believe that in some years we can have some horses, not only one or two but, some horses, the big places in world championships.

Natasha (11:52):

Yeah. That's huge. So how do you, how do you, I'm just trying to reverse engineer. You get to where you're at. So did you have coaches that didn't believe in your horse, in you, in the combination? How did, how did you get through that?


Maria (12:09):

Well, we, we, we always try to have, um, the coaches that believed on Lucitano and that's, uh, mainly not only about the breeding, but about the, the classical equitation. Uh, I always had, uh, the, the, the pleasure to ride with great teachers. We were raised coaches in the way we like to ride for the classical principles with the respect for the horse since the beginning. So I rode with a long time with Lisa Wilcox. Yeah. The American rider when she was based in the, in Germany, spend there the summertime riding with her when I was like 16. And then, and now I have the Ton de Ridder, it's a very known coach as well. And I'm with, with him together with my father, because my father had been always my coach since the beginning. Oh, wow. So we work together every day. And then now I also have Ton de Ridder that comes often to help us. So they always believed in Lucitano, they always believed in the Portuguese, um, uh, riders and the parts of these principles of equitation. So we, we, we, what we needed in Portugal was some, uh, inputs for the sports and to, to like to 15 years ago, we had already great riders, but now we can see the, the, the result of this work of being more involved in the, in what is the sport, not only the classical reputation. And I think the combination of the sports equitation and the classical can really give good results in, uh, in a country like ours.

Natasha 14:00):

Yeah, absolutely. So would you say that the riding you do now? Cause I love that it seems to come from a really solid foundation. Do you find riding dressage?

Maria 14:12):

Not at all.

Natasha (14:14):

I mean, it's not good how good you get, it's still not getting easy, but talk to me about what, what you think about riding dressage.

Maria (14:24):

I used to say, I used to say every Grand Prix test I do. I find, I find it even more difficult to be really perfect and to be really perfect every 0.2, to get one more point in one exercise, it's mainly the Grand Prix. You have no time to prepare anything. So it's really where you can see if your basis of equitation, if your base of feeling the horse, a have a, have a good relationship with the horse, everything counts to get like a half percent more, if really your principles, like if all you have it or you cannot perform a proper Grand Prix, you know? So it's what I find is that every single, single detail counts to get better performance.

Natasha (15:22):

And so when you say every detail, do you mean not just in the riding, I've been speaking to a lot of top riders and they talk about the care at home and how the horse is looked after. If, if it's getting iced, if it's booked for feet, feet, legs, get iced. If they go out in the paddock, what they’re eating, what the farrier is doing.

Maria (15:40):

This all the small, the smallest detail you think it will give you something, uh, inside the ring. Uh, also I like a lot to build a strong relationship with the horse, the bonding between the horse and the rider. It's really important with me in Colorado. I think that's one of the main points that gives us, uh, the, the, our, our success, our results, because I really spent, spent my life with the horse since he was five years old, he's with me. So like we can struggling. I always travel with a horse in the in the lorry. Um, of course I have my groom, but, uh, every hour, every, every time that he needs something I'm there. And I see I'm sure that when he's not feeling so well in some, in some cases I can look at him and like, I know what's happening. Wow. These bonding, these relation, the relationship inside the ring really, uh, is really, really important.

Natasha (16:49):

That's huge. And I feel, I'm a little bit biased. I'm like you get that relationship a little bit more with a Lucitano, don't you like, I feel that bonding or that feeling of, oh, like sometimes the horse can give, can, can give that to you. And I feel that that breed is, it's just, I don't know, a bit more sensitive, but we're a bit more in shift that I don't know.

Maria (17:17):

That's really true because that's thing that happens because that breed was created to help the riders in the war in the beginning. Of course. So they, they, they were created to, in selected mainly the breed to have these, um, relationship, these, uh, feeling between the horse and the rider. It's like the rider thinks, and the horse thinks the same. And or if, if it's a critical moment, even when it's there, because those exams are little hot in the, in the, in the way of, of the stallions, sometimes a Coroado in the warm ups, he's really naughty because he's a stallion and he likes to show that he's a stallion. How can I manage it inside the ring. And then he gets in and he says, Oh, now we will do our job. And like, leave it open for you.

Natasha (18:12):

I love it. Oh, that's so cool. Okay. So, um, you were based in Germany before COVID hit, um, tell us a little bit, I mean, obviously you were gearing up for a big games. Tell us how you’ve managed this whole, I mean, everyone's life has turned upside down for an athlete. I mean, for the Olympics, I mean, that's a, that's a huge thing. So share with us how that has gone.



Maria (18:38):

in the beginning, just to explain how I moved to Germany. Um, I was based in Portugal and I used to drive to Germany every summer to prepare the big championships. Like in May. I used to travel there to compete in Aarchen and in the big competitions around Germany, uh, and then prepare the, the like Europeans or all the World Equestrian Games that happened always in August, September. Yeah. And two years ago, I decided to stay in Germany because I wanted to do the world cup finals in the winter there. And I will have the opportunity to work in a Hope Castleman, stables. Uh, so I wanted to ride more and learn more. Of course, of course the warmblood horses experience also had some warmbloods already, but there, you can really feel these kinds of horses and ride with younger horses and all kinds of horses. It was very valuable experience for me. Well, I stayed, I didn't think about staying two years in a row in Germany before, but then I said, okay, I stay now one more winter. And then again, so at the end I found a very nice stable there to, to have my horses. And before the COVID situation, I was there with the 11 horses, but then I found that the big competitions, the big CDI is five stars and four stars were not happening. Maybe I come back home and in Portugal, we could, we had the conditions to keep competing in CDIs, three stars and national competitions, and also with the family again. So I moved back to Portugal and now I'm waiting to see what's what's going on.

Natasha 4020:12):

It's actually, it's it's do you struggle with that with the uncertainty of, is there an Olympics in 21, is there big force five-star competitions in 2021? What about doing.

Maria (22:25):

It's difficult? And also it's very important for foreign athletes to, to make, um, uh, management of, uh, the plan, the planning of the season, both some CDIs, and then depending on the horse I have right now, three horses in Grand Prix. So I like to make the, the, the, the schedule for them to go with one, two gets ridden at which one, of course, very clear in my mind, then I will speak together with my coaches to, to decide that, and now we'll add anything because we decide to go to one place and the two days later it's canceled and then it's like these, and then you cannot travel. Or so I just wait and see and make short term decisions. Then we can keep the horses, uh, working and in a good shape in good condition and wait to see.

Natasha 4621:21):

Oh, I love it. Okay. So talk to me about, um, you said you've got three grand Prix horses. Are they all Lucitano’s?

Maria (23:31):

Uh, no. I have the, the two main ones. I was, it's not as it's called a while ago. Of course, that now I gave him a break holidays because of all the situation he doesn't compete very often now, just, uh, getting, having the chance to make some like physiotherapy and some treatments. So he's just enjoying it. And then I have Fenix that's he now it's a younger Lucitano. It's 10 years old and it's rather grew others rather. And also from the same sponsor, the same owner, and he's already competing the grand Prix scoring around 70%. So it's my second option. And I want to focus now in on Fenix and the two, some CDIs give him experience to have. It's also, it's always good to have a second option if something happened. And, and the, the, the third one, it's a interesting, uh, horse it's across bred, between Lucitano and warmbloods. Son of a Bretton woods. So his son of a Dutch horse and the mother who is Lucitano and half wamblood. So he's three quarters warmblood and one quarter Lucitano.


Natasha (23:18):

And did you breed him?


Maria (23:20):

No, I bought him as a five years old. That's the only horse I own all the others are owned by some sponsors. And that's when I bought him as five years old. I would like to try these, uh, this cross between Lucitano and warmblood and he's doing great. He's only eight years old in it's already competing in Grand Prix pretty well.

Natasha (23:44):

Yeah. Okay. And is it, do you, have you found, cause obviously there's amazing things about warmbloods, there's amazing things about Lucitano, you're trying to put just all the good bits of both. And what have you found? Is there, is there any bad or like, what is he more like, does he throw to one or the other?


Maria (24:02):

No. In this case, uh, these horses got the good things from both sides. I was like, he totally looks like a warmblood athletic and tall horse and and really strong and really big movements. But then when you ask, when you ask the, the collection, the Piaffe Passage, like sinks that he's Lucitano that he well he's, but he goes to that, well, then he can do very good. The collection works like pirouttes, passafg, piaffe.. So I think in this case, I was lucky to put together both faults. I find it very interesting to do this is crossing. I think it can have a future for the breeders. I also have some more horses like him younger, and we can have a good result at the end.

Natasha 25:01):

That's amazing. I love it. All right. So what does a normal day look like for you? How many horses are you? What goes on.

Maria (25:10):

On? Well, right now I have, will be too much. No, not too much, but I have a 14 horses in my organization now, and that I ride, I used to ride mine 10 a day. I have a girl working with me and also my father helps me riding some, some horses every day. So we kind of share, uh, the horses. So I start riding at 8:30 to give time for the grooms to prepare everything. And I try to ride the most part of the horses during the morning, mainly on summer because of summer in Portugal. Very hot. Well, on summer I start earlier. Oh, I've got you. It's all good. Yeah. All good on summer. I have to start earlier in the morning because we can, in Portugal, we can have like 38 degrees, almost 40 degrees.

Natasha (26:12):

You’ve got an indoor I'm assuming to keep the sun out at least?.

Maria (26:16):

Yes. We have an indoor and outdoor arena, but I always, I like to write outdoor better. I really like it. Um, so like when I was in Germany, it’s the opposite, you have to ride really cold. So yeah.

Natasha (26:37):

And then do you do teaching in the afternoon or what, after all the horses are done, what do you do?

Maria (28:18):

Uh, well then, uh, when I finished my job with the horses, I like to go to a little bit to the gym and, or jogging outside and it's good, but I live in a farm. I love to jog around the farm. Yeah. So that's my day. And then the day off for the horses, we used to give them two days off in the weekend, but, or they are walked on hand or they go to the park or we, we, we love to go hacking with the horses. I find, I find it really, really important to go in the field with them, clear the mind to make muscles walking for like one hour or something like that. I think it's really important at the end that the horses have different things to do during the week. Not only dressage.

Natasha (27:34):

So what does a normal week look like, is it two days in the arena, one day outside hack or what does the week look like?

Maria (27:38):

I do from Monday to Friday, I'm training in arena, but not the same every day. I like to do one day to fall. For example, in the Grand Prix horse, I like to focus one day, mainly the canter exercises. Then the next day more of passage,piaffe, then one day only stretching and give some plastics. So during the week I do mainly working outside then in the, can I go outside with them in the paddock, then outside cantering in the field, all this.

Natasha (28:17):

And, um, you mentioned that you're riding stallions, are they breeding stallions as well? Do you have to incorporate that into their routine?

Maria (28:25):

Some of them, yes. Yes. Mainly Feniz. Now my, the, my second Grand Prix horse, he's a really good breeding stallion. And also one very interesting horse. I am riding it's a six years old named Jasmeen booze. So that horse will be, I think he will be a great grand Prix horse in the future. And we are planning now to go with him to the world championships for young horses. Yes. The six years old class. And he's already breathing a lot in Portugal that readers are really interested in the, in this, in this horse and are using him a lot. So we have to, to coordinate the, the, the breathing UTS.

Natasha (29:08):

And do you do that or someone comes in and does the whole, um, like, is it chilled semen or is it livecover or I wouldn't be live cover.

Maria (29:17):

No, no, no. It's, it's semen frozen semen or also the fresh semen, but so planned in this case that the owner of these horses dressage plus, and they have all the facilities to do these, to do this breeding the collection of the Semens. So in the breeding season, I move the horse, moves to them from my stable to dressage stable. And they do the collection during I think, two months or something like that, working the horse. But of course, during these two months, uh, the horse is only focused on breathing and then he comes back to, right.

Natasha (29:55):

So you really separate you're a dressage horse now you to be a breeding horse now and come back. Okay. And does that help the stallions understand their job?

Maria (30:04):

Yeah. I have things with trainings, we do, we do the opposite. We working and we collect, I said depends on the horse, but in both cases they don't change the mind when it's to work. They work when it's to go breeding they love that too.

Natasha (30:25):

I love it. Awesome. Okay. So, um, you mentioned that you go for runs. Do you also hit the gym too? Do weights? Wait, I'm sure, like, everyone's curious

Maria (30:40):

No, no, no. I just run some stretching exercises, but no weights, because I think that's, uh, for the body of the rider, it's important that you have the, some strengths of course, but that you have, I'm not a skinny body, but I don't like to see when you are really that strong with muscles, riding a horse, you know, because I think it kind of blocks in my case. I don't know. I understand that in my, when I tried it, of course, sometimes in the gym and then I feel that my body is blocked when I'm riding too much muscles in the, mainly in the arms or in the shoulders. I prefer when my body's like a tree. So I only run two more. I think it's more to do something different than the only the riding for, for the body.

Natasha (31:35):

Yeah. And does it help your brain?

Maria (31:40):

I wanted to say also to clear a little bit my brain. When you have the possibility to do it outside and in the field. I like to go and look at the cattle, so it’s kind of like a therapy for the body and mind.


Natasha (31:59):

Cause it’s also like meditation. Do you actually meditate as well or is that probably how you would meditate by going for a run?


Maria (32:11):

I think that's, that's actually now I'm, I'm curious to see because many riders have like mental coaches and this kind of therapies and helps from, from professionals. I never used it before, but I'm sure it's a, it's a good, a good thing to do, to do before competitions and so on. I have some colleagues that use it and actually I'm curious too, to see how it works. Yeah.

Natasha (32:43):

What I think is great though, is like, as you said, like at that test it's, to me, it's, it's about having no past and no future it's about being in that moment. And as you described that test where you did so well with you are right in that zone, baby. You're right. When you need it to be.

Maria (33:00):

It me it's really likely if anything happens that sometimes if it didn't go so well, and usually my tests when I'm not focusing the, in, in every movement of the horse and I'm thinking of something else or in the results or bad in the training, it's never a good idea. It never goes, well, the good result and really a good test, it's when I'm totally focused in what I'm doing. Yeah. And when it happens usually then, yeah.

Natasha 33:32):

Well, awesome. All right. So we've done all this chatting about how you've, you've just amazing and it's all been amazing. Please share with everyone listening of something that didn't go so well, because I know lots of people listen to these podcasts or watch the top riders and they go, well, yeah. They just have it all perfect. And it always works. It's great for me. Why like, is there something that you want to share? Did you come last one time? Did it something really bad? And so it's okay. Like, did you ever get


Maria 0434:40):

In the sports you have no chance to be always in the top. That's why it's so, so good also for the education for children and because what is the life? Um, it really shows you what is the life? Yeah. So yeah, of course I had many bad moments when I remember it's it was a sad moment. More than the competition. I had a very good Lucitano with us was only nine years old. And we were qualified for the world equestrian games in Kentucky in 2010. And he passed away five days before the flights to the States. you'd thing here, the like I'm a skin allergy. And he had to give antibiotics to that. The skin goes better to fly. Then it was a long flight and then he was scratching or so on. And he made an anaphylactic shock, like an alergy reaction to the antibiotics. So in like five minutes in my hand, see the way. So it was a really hard, it was really hard for me. I know the team and it was a horse breed at home.

Natasha (35:22):

Yeah. And that's the thing is these things can happen. And we all know what it's like when you lose a pet. So you lose it. Yeah. Your pet, you've got this bond and you're losing your sporting plans

Maria (35:44):

And at the time I remember it was my, my first, uh, world equestrian games. And I remember that like some weeks before I was so excited that I used to tell everyone, I want to put this horse in a protection. I don't want that last thing happens. And I was always calling the room. How is he feeling out? And now after that, I used to say, okay, I have to take care of the horses. Of course the best I know to do everything. But I only think about the championship, a big goal. I only talk about it when I, when it's done. It's like I say, I'm going to the Olympics. No, I don't say that. Just say I've been in Olympics only after that. And I think about this because otherwise it's really, you have to, you have to focus in the, in the daily work and not dream about, of course you can dream about fixings, but not put so much of you into it. Things like this can happen because we are athletes. We, uh, as a person, we are an athlete. Something happened, happen us and also something to the horse, because that's why our sport is so difficult because you have to count on two human. Well, not human beings, but to

Natasha (37:09):

Yes. But that's like, if you have a rowing partner or a beach volleyball partner, at least you can communicate with words, Hey, look, after yourself, the horse has no idea. Um, so it is the hardest, I think when it comes to partnerships. Yeah. But what a great lesson, as you've said, it it's, it's, I think that the most horrible things and the most saddening things, and at the time I can't even comprehend what that loss would have felt like, but what a gift that's given to you from now on too keep you, in that moment.

Maria (37:41):

I really saw it. And I really to keep like this and the motivation I had at the time of seven years old horse was already doing the, all the grand prix movements. So it will be eight years old, the night that the in January, he could compete grand Prix. So I told him, he competed with me, I think four Europeans and one will be person games. So I told him, now you have to give it in, in January, February the year he was there, competing Grand Prix . And in as eight years old, he did his first European championships in Rotterdam them. So it gives me, it gave me strengths to keep working and to do my job even with more.

Natasha (38:40):

That is awesome. Okay. So who are the people in your system and how do they help you? How does it all work?

Maria (40:20):

Yeah, I told them read before. That's my, daddy's always with me. He’s my coach, my mental coach, my friend. Then he really leaves my career together with me. He goes to every competition. So we really have a great relationship since the beginning of my, or my sports career. Of course, then I have my thunder reader, my, my, my coach from, from Holland and my groom, my assistant rider. And she's also my groom, a very nice girl from Portugal already for some well, not for a long time ago for some months, but she's really, really nice. As I told you, I like to travel with the horses in the lorry. So you really spend hours together. Yeah. And we, we, we lived, we had together this situation in, in Germany with the Covid, we were stuck there for some, like, I think four months without competitions. We love to go into, on with her. We 12 horses in the arena every day. So it's it. And of course the, the, the, the farriers is the blacksmith and the vets are very important. We do. Uh, we do. I think the team, the team of, uh, around the horse is all round one horse to, to get to the highest level. It's really important every week. Again, it's important. So to have a strong and solid team, it's, it's a really, uh, seeing, I try to find every day. Yeah, that's huge.

Natasha (40:36):

Awesome. Okay. And do you have any other hobbies? What do you do on your days off for, is there anything else that you seek out

Maria (40:45):

I liked, I liked to hike alot to, to, to go out for dinner with friends. Yeah. So I like to cook and to receive people at home to invite people, home dinners with friends at home as well. So mainly we seem to all, to go out with my boyfriend to, to travel like small, always small holidays because horses cannot stop. So we try to go like, when, when I, when my, my assistant rider can stay with all the horses during the weekend, I like to go to travel for one week and the round also in Spain or Portugal to, to make my, my brain a little bit free of all the emotions that horses give you every day. And of course the jogging makes part of the hobbies. I don't see it like a bad thing. I like to do it. So, yeah.

Natasha (41:37):

And does your partner do anything with horses or what does he do?

Maria (41:42):

No. No, not at all. He also runs some farms, family farms, uh, and he has some business in the, in the electric industry. Like the, the, I don't know the, but how have you can spell it in English? Like the, the, the sun, solar energy, solar energy. Yeah. Cool. With horses. It's good that you can talk about differences. Yeah.

Natasha (42:13):

Very cool. All right. So do you want to share what your goals are for the next 10 years? Or do you want to keep it quiet? We'll just talk about, like, we don't need to talk about what you want to do. If you just want to talk about what you have done. I totally get it.


Maria (42:30):

No, no, no. I like to, I like to, as I told you, I like to focus in my daily work and I like to keep improving my skills to be everyday better on my technique, on my riding, on my relationship with the horses and it, in 10 years, I'm doing the same I'm doing right now. I'm happy because to be in the team every year, too, to be able to have a grand Prix horse continuously in the, in the sport, since he able to ride CDI,  Five Stars, world cups for me, that's already really big. So we have the chance to, to maintain my level because for a, for an athlete, that's difficult to keep going in the same level because sometimes you have up and downs. So if in 10 years I'm doing the same I'm doing right now. I'm happy. Of course, if I can do better and have better qualifications and to go to the Olympics next year, and then to the Olympics of Paris, that's great, but I don't think to much about it.

Speaker 3 (43:39):

That's amazing. Awesome. Alright. Do you have any sponsors that you want to mention?

Maria (45:21):

Well, um, about sport, I also call sponsors though, my horse owners, and I really mentioned them really important for my career and they are mainly men. Most of them are with me since the beginning of my career. Uh, so (inaudible name) is he now is the owner of Coronado and the Fenix. Yes. I used to say they are my angels because they are with me for everything. And they trust in our team since the beginning and supported my career. And they trust in my decisions. They are always there for, for me and without them, of course, without Coroado, I think nothing would be the same. And now I have, uh, also, uh, who you'll be (inaudible name) have some, had one horse, very important with me before then it was sold to Brazil. And now we have three horses together. Also a Blueberry Farm is from the States. They are with me for only for half a year. But I really believe in the future relationship. Also a sponsor from Columbia, Harold Foxconn, that has some horses with me as well. So it's great to have a good people around you. It's the main thing. Yeah. to, to be successful in the sport, without the right people and mainly good people. I always try to find my partners and my team, my sponsors from people with good values and really love the sports and the horses. It's the main thing, because then the business, of course, you have to put it together at the end, but, but if you really believe when you're sending your rider in your team at the end, you will have a good result.

Natasha (45:45):

That's awesome.

Maria (45:48):

Then I work with some brands, dressage tack. I ride in Bates Saddles. Yes. Yes. Australian brand. It seems already a five or six years. They are my sponsors. I really, really liked it. I told them if one day, for some reason I cannot, I cannot have your sponsorship. I will buy all the sadles.

Natasha (46:23):

Do you have a favorite saddle? Cause I think they’ve brought out a new one recently. How's that?

Maria (46:28):

I just got it. It's amazing. Yeah. I used to ride in the Inova Mano plus. Yes. The new one is it's called Artist and that's like the same, but with some improvements would be, I will replace all myself as for the new one.

Natasha (46:43):

Yeah. And, um, cause obviously the Lucitano, has a bit of a different back, so you'd find it's good for those kinds of breeds?

Maria (46:50):

Right. Yeah. That's why I found it. So, so good for, for me or for my horses, because you can hear that the settle to each horse. Great. So in the Lucitano used to use to be a skinny horses when they are young, like six years old, they are skinny and with the small bag. So it's difficult to settle and suddenly when they get muscles, they go like round back. So you settle through all the years to change horses with these saddles, you have the opportunity to change and to adapt them to the new horse. So it's also a valuable scene. And of course, then I have some sponsors for gloves, Coco and also the, the, the protection boots from Sandonna, it's an Italian brand. I have TRM from Ireland's for the vitamins supplements, the nutritional supplements. Well I have, I'm lucky I have a Portuguese brand with me that is Regal Way too, for the clothes, the riding clothes. So I'm lucky, good brands around me as well.

Natasha 48:09):

Yeah. Well, I always think, you know, like attracts, like, and you're always saying extraordinary human being and everyone just wants to be around and all extraordinary people coming together.


Natasha 48:25):

Great. And where can listeners find you? Are you on, um, I'm assuming Instagram and Facebook. Are you on tik tik yet?

Maria (48:31):

Yet? No, it's not my thing tik tok. Well, I find it funny when I see some videos from tik tok, but I don't know if I can do it. No, I have Instagram. It's my main, um, social media. It's uh, I've seen my name is if you put Maria Caetano you go to my page, but uh, I see my name in Instagram. It's Maria M hi, it's Ann altogether.

Natasha (49:03):

Well, definitely that will be in the show notes. So if you want to find the spelling and find Maria or on Instagram, you can definitely do that and follow all your amazing horses. And I'm so excited that we know there's some really good ones coming up too. I mean, they're all good, but really cool ones that are young that are gonna come through

Maria (49:21):

Yeah. Saying, well, I have young horses coming, so it's really important for a career of an athletes. We have this, all the ages of horses coming through. Uh, so absolutely.

Natasha (49:36):

And do you have any advice for young riders or any riders that are like I want to, I want to be her. I want to do that. What, What do you think is the secret to your success?

Maria (49:49):

That's really, really important to focus on the daily work. Not don't struggle thinking about your next goal to be in a big competition or in a team or whatever. I think if you focus really on your work and mainly on the relationship between the rider and the horse to understand what, what your horse needs, what you can do for, for the horse, what you can improve in your, in your seat or in your EDS, or if we focus everyday these small details, then you will reach the, for sure you reach the goal, you have it.

Natasha (50:32):

I love it. And do you think. How important is education in that?

Natasha (50:37):

So if they're working alone, do you suggest, I mean, it sounds like, yeah, You had amazing people around you and you also went to Germany and went more, you had amazing people around you and you also went to Germany and went more, more, I want to learn more now.


Maria (50:50):

Of course you have to, to try to learn more every day, even when you are in already in a good position of, uh, of the sports of, with good results, you have to try to learn more and more and to see a better riders. That's another reason why I moved to Germany also to be together with the best riders in the world. Because also if you see them everyday, it's easier that you try to be like them and then you can be like them. So to learn from every single loop, get many videos and try to be better every day. So you will, you will be one of one of the best. So I think I really believe on it and to believe when you are a horse, that's what I wanted to mention before you believe on the horse that you have, because sometimes we struggle saying no, uh, I'm riding well, but my horse, it's not enough because I have no money to buy a better horse or something. If you believe in your horse, of course, the horses to have the basic conditions. And sometimes also to try to force one horse that it's not a super athlete to be a super athlete. It's also not a good thing, but if you have a good horse with you, with the basic conditions, you can believe in these horses.


Natasha (52:17):

That's it, everybody. She is amazing. And that was a perfect place to end. Cause that is so perfectly said. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us and for sharing all those amazing golden nuggets. I deeply appreciate it.


Maria (52:32):

Thank you very much. This was a big pleasure to be with you.


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