Juan Matute, Jr., and Don Diego Ymas Finish On Top of FEI Intermediaire Freestyle at AGDF 3 CDI-W

Juan Matute, Jr. and Don Diego Ymas Photo: SusanJStickle
Juan Matute, Jr. and Don Diego Ymas Photo: SusanJStickle

Spain's Juan Matute, Jr. collected another blue ribbon prize after winning the FEI Intermediare Freestyle presented by Chespeake Dressage Institute on Sunday at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). Sixteen-year-old Matute, Jr. and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Don Frederico finished on a score of 74.400% for victory. Second place went to American Heather Mason and Zar for their score of 73.275%. Tom Dvorak (CAN) and Ribot scored 70.400% for third place.The FEI Intermediaire Freestyle concluded competition for the third week of the AGDF, presented by the US P.R.E. Association and the Chesapeake Dressage Institute. The AGDF 4 National will run February 1-2. Sunday was the first time Matute, Jr. had done this particular freestyle with Don Diego Ymas, but he couldn't have asked for a better performance from the gelding. "It was great. It was our first freestyle in the small tour, so I was a bit nervous, but it turned out perfectly! It was fun. I enjoyed it a lot," Matute, Jr. beamed. Matute, Jr. produced his freestyle music himself, scouring YouTube for the perfect soundtrack.

"I went through a lot of YouTube videos!" he laughed. "I went through a lot of searching, just for soundtrack. Sometimes, you choose a song just because you like it, but it doesn't specifically fit the horse. It was a bit hard to find the right music that fits Don Diego, but we did it."

Juan Matute, Jr. and Don Diego Ymas with judge Hans-Christian Matthiesen (DEN) and Cora Causemann of Equestrian Sport Productions  Photo: SusanJStickle
Juan Matute, Jr. and Don Diego Ymas with judge Hans-Christian Matthiesen (DEN) and Cora Causemann of Equestrian Sport Productions Photo: SusanJStickle

He continued, "I think the major point in the freestyle is that both the horse and the rider like the music and like to ride to the music. The music makes the horse lighter; it makes him dance to the music."

Don Diego Ymas' greatest strength is his canter work, which is where Matute, Jr. incorporated the more difficult elements of their choreography.

"I think the most difficult movements I did today were the pirouettes with one hand. He's a big horse with a big canter, so sometimes it's hard to control that, especially with just one hand. I think we were able to pull it off. The twos and the serpentine and the threes were a bit tricky as well, but we did it!"

Don Diego Ymas has been with the Matute family for years, and Matute, Jr. has enjoyed how their relationship has progressed. 

"We had our barn with the top horses and the young ones, and he was always the last one [to be worked with]. He was the ugly one, the big one, the naughty one! He was so naughty when he was young," Matute, Jr. laughed. "But he was always nice. He's super noble. We've known each other since I was eight or nine, so it's funny how [our relationship has progressed]. From walking down the barn aisle and saying 'Oh, hi buddy!' to now being able to perform in these competitions and do well. I think it's a great development." 

The AGDF continues for nine more weeks of world-class dressage competition, running through March 30. For full results and more information, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com

Final Results: FEI Intermediaire Freestyle, presented by Chesapeake Dressage Institute

Rider, Country, Horse: Judge E%, Judge H%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Judge B%, Total%

1 Juan Matute, Jr., ESP, Don Diego Ymas: 73.500%, 77.375%, 73.500%, 73.750%, 73.875%, 74.400%

2 Heather Mason, USA, Zar: 73.250%, 75.125%, 73.00%, 73.750%, 71.250%, 73.275%

3 Tom Dvorak, CAN, Ribot: 71.125%, 71.500%, 70.750%, 68.500%, 70.125%, 70.400%

4 Gabriella Stumpf, AUT, Finally Love: 70.375%, 68.125%, 70.375%, 69.625%, 70.625%, 69.825%

5 Bent Jensen, USA, Saracen: 68.500%, 66.125%, 64.875%, 68.125%, 63.375%, 66.200%

6 Kristy Truebenbach Lund, USA, Reel Adventure: 58.00%, 62.125%, 63.250%, 61.500%, 63.750%, 61.725%

7 Katharina Stumpf, AUT, Nymphenburg's Love: 61.250%, 66.125%, 60.875%, 60.500%, 59.750%, 61.700%

8 Amy Walker-Basak, USA, Wagner: 59.250%, 59.625%, 59.750%, 57.625%, 59.375%, 59.125%