Gladstone, NJ (August 18, 2010) – International dressage rider [#27523 override="Dr. Cesar Parra" title="Dr. Cesar Parra"] is familiar with the thrill of victory, thanks to a distinguished career that has landed him in the winner’s circle time and time again. What Parra isn’t familiar with, however, is the thrill of victory during an American National Championship -- the chance to breathe red, white and blue for the United States of America.
That all changed during an emotional victory the first week of Gladstone, when Parra, now an American citizen, won the National Intermediaire I Championship at the. Parra accepted his Championship with a smile and a few tears, praising God, his family and friends that for the first time in ten years he was able to win a National Championship for his new country.
The former dentist from Colombia described his win as a “homecoming,” as did his biggest fan, his wife Marcela Parra. “It finally feels like we are home, like we really belong,” Marcela said. “Since we moved to the United States in 1999, Cesar has been able to compete in every show except the National Championships. We feel so lucky to have this finally happen.”
Marcela is proud to say that she also breathes red, white and blue, as she became an American citizen only a few months after her husband. “I know everyone thinks Cesar is emotional each time he wins, but I am even worse. I get very nervous during big competitions. At Gladstone my son was holding my hand the whole time and reminding me to breathe.”
Parra rode Lori Washton’sto the victory and now hopes to compete the horse at the Pan American Games – as part of the United States team. “He also hopes to have a shot at the London Olympics on Grandioso, as part of the United States team of course,” Marcela said.
Olympia helped Parra show off the colors of Parra’s new country during Gladstone, as he sported a red, white and blue rhinestone browband that Parra had designed for his venture into the ring as a US citizen. “Cesar won the browband as a prize at a CDI. It was from Browbands With Bling and Katherine Griffin let Cesar design it and he picked out the colors from the American flag,” Marcela said. “We are so proud to be Americans.”
While Parra has found great success as a dressage rider, teacher and trainer – he owns Piaffe-Performance with locations in New Jersey and Florida – he left behind a very successful life as a dentist in Colombia. “In his first career he was a dentist for many years and was very good at it. He had three successful offices and stayed very busy,” Marcela said. “I always tell him that he is lucky to have two careers in one life and to love them both. I think he is really lucky, because many people never find one career that they love. Cesar has no regrets about leaving his old world behind, he loves the horses.”
Marcela said she also enjoys her new life in the equestrian world, and handles all of the behind-the-scenes work at the farm, from the administration work to the books. “She is the boss at Piaffe-Performance,” said Kevin Kohmann, who rides and shows with Parra.
Parra believes in teamwork at Piaffe-Performance and nowhere is that more evident than in his relationship with Olympia’s owner Lori Washton. “Lori is a great rider and she rides Olympia all the time. About ten days before a show Cesar starts riding him,” Marcela said, adding that Cesar is thrilled that Olympia was the horse that made him an American Champion. “When he first arrived at our barn Cesar took him to a little show and he won. Cesar suggested to Lori that they take him to the Raleigh CDI, and Cesar rode the horse and he won again. That is when Cesar and Lori knew that they had a special horse.”
So how did Parra celebrate his first National victory? “He jumped on a plane and flew to Colombia to teach a two-day clinic,” Marcela said. “There is no way to make Cesar stop, he is always running. He came back for the second weekend of Gladstone as some of his students were competing at the Dressage Festival of Champions, and Cesar was the coach.”