London, England (July 20, 2012) – Ronald Zabala-Goetschel, founder of Wise-Equestrian and the Dutton RZ Saddle line, is in the process of making history for his home country of Ecuador by being the first equestrian to participate as an individual in the sport of Eventing at the Olympics!
It’s been an interesting journey for Zabala-Goetschel, who has been based in the US for the past 9 years. Training out of Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm, Zabala-Goetschel’s dream of taking his star horse, Mr. Wiseguy, to the Olympics was sidelined due to some minor soundness issues. Zabala-Goetschel persevered as most upper level riders do, strategically acquiring several other top international horses, increasing his chances to qualify for the Olympics.
During 2011 Zabala-Goetschel purchased ODT Master Rose, a 2000 Irish Sport Horse gelding who had a very successful international career with Oliver Townend in the irons, including many successful 3* completions and several top 4* placings including Pau, where he was 13th and Luhmuehlen, where he placed 7th. This talented gelding, by the top international sire Master Imp, is a half brother to several other international horses headed to the 2012 Olympics, including Tiana Coudray’s Ringwood Magister (Team USA) and Zara Phillip’s High Kingdom (British Team). Clearly the decision to invest in Master Rose was a well thought out one!
Zabala-Goetschel started his career with (Wise-Equestrian) Master Rose in 2011 with a warm-up ride at Plantation Field, followed by the 3* at Poplar Place where they had an unfortunate fall. By making a simple bit change and regaining their confidence in one another, they went on to a successful completions at Rocking Horse Intermediate and then a 5th place finish in February at the CIC 3* at Poplar Place in Georgia. One week later they were on a plane to Argentina to prepare for their next Olympic qualifier at the Campo de Mayo CIC3* in Buenos Aires where they won their division, securing their Olympic selection to ride as the only individual competitor for Ecuador!
Eventing in South America has a history rooted in the mounted cavalry, where the military upheld their level of communication with other countries through eventing competition. Eventing provided a sportsmanship platform for countries to show their camaraderie and allowed them to maintain relationships through friendly competition.
It should be noted that from the FEI area of Central and South America, Argentina and Brazil were able to qualify for a team spot for the Olympics based on their results at the Pan-American Games in 2011. However, only Brazil was able to get their riders qualified at the 3* level with a full team for London 2012. Argentina was only able to qualify 2 riders, when the minimum required is 3 to have an Olympic team, therefore they had to forfeit their team spot.
From the mentioned FEI area of Central and South America, there was also only 1 spot available for an individual rider and Zabala-Goetschel was the one rider from that region who, based on points from results, registered in the FEI World Olympic Ranking.
Ronald’s long term goal is to form relationships with other talented Ecuadorian riders so his country can begin to develop athletes with the ability to compete and qualify at this level. The aim is to have a team for the South American Games in 2014, the Pan Am Games in 2015 (Canada) and then the 2016 Olympics in Rio!
Lisa Marriott, who is based out of Liverpool and trains with the Bartels from the Academy Bartels in Holland, traveled to True Prospect Farm to prepare Zabala-Goetschel in Bartel’s training methods prior to his trip to Europe. Zabala-Goetschel and Master Rose (aka Big Boy) left for Holland in early June to begin training with Imke Schellekens Bartels at their Bartels Academy in order to perfect his dressage before his Olympic debut. The Bartels are a family with impressive Olympic resumes, with Imke representing The Netherlands for Dressage during the 2004 & 2008 Olympics, and winning team gold at the World Equestrian Games in 2010. Her mother Tineke Bartels won Team Silver in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, while also competing in 4 Olympics since 1984. Zabala-Goetschel remained with the Bartels for 3 weeks of intensive dressage training before moving to Mike and Emma Winter’s yard in the UK.
In the US, Phillip Dutton began to coach Zabala-Goetschel on a part time basis in 2007, and in the beginning of 2009 he moved several of his horses to True Prospect Farm for full time training. Eventually this coaching and training relationship evolved into a business partnership when these two dedicated horsemen began to design the new cutting edge Dutton RZ saddle line in 2010.
Developed in partnership by Zabala-Goetschel and Dutton, these unique and lightweight dressage, show jumping, and cross-country saddles focus on horse and rider comfort, proper balance and fit, improved rider position and effectiveness of the aids.
"I designed the WISAIR saddle ventilation system and Phillip developed the angles, balance and fit to be most comfortable for horses and riders," said Zabala-Goetschel, founder of Wise-Equestrian. "The patent-pending WISAIR airflow system increases air flow to the horse's back to keep the horse cool, comfortable and performing its best."
The Wise-Equestrian Dutton RZ saddle line was officially launched at Rolex in 2011 and has been showcased at events throughout the country. Zabala-Goetschel continues to train out of True Prospect Farm and Phillip has remained instrumental in his pre-Olympic training.
The eventing world is known for it’s tightly knit community and cooperative fellowship between competitors. There is no better example than the team of people who have rallied together to make Zabala-Goetschel and Big Boy’s trip to the Olympics a successful one.
Currently based out of Mike and Emma Winter's New Barn Farm in Cirencester, England, Zabala-Goetschel has been focusing on fitness work and cross country schooling in preparation for the games. The Winter’s have a fantastic cross country course at their own facility, and have hauled Zabala-Goetschel and Big Boy to Boomerang, a facility previously owned by Sandy Phillips, which has an exceptional cross country course with all weather footing and also to a steeplechase training facility to gallop on an all weather footing hill. Phillip has been enormously helpful, continuing to coach Zabala-Goetschel over fences since the conclusion of the US team selection after Barbury Castle.
The final countdown has begun and the final move to Greenwich Park is planned for July 24th. Zabla-Goetschel’s plans for the next week include 2 days of dressage training, a gallop on Wednesday, one more cross country school on Saturday, then one last gallop on Monday before heading off to Greenwich!
Zabala-Goetschel would like to thank Mike and Emma Winter for being such fantastic hosts during his stay in the UK. They have been instrumental in helping him find lodging for he and his groom, hauling him to school cross country at Boomerang, and coordinate care for Big Boy by arranging appointments with vets, physical therapists and farriers. He also wishes to thank his coach and business partner, Phillip Dutton, as well as his dedicated staff at Wise-Equestrian in the United States and South America who have helped orchestrate his saddle manufacturing, marketing and distribution business while he pursues his Olympic dreams!
For more information on Zabala-Goetschel and Wise-Equestrian, visit their website at www.wise-equestrian.com
Photo: Ronald Zabala-Goetschel of Wise-Equestrian will be the first Equadorian event rider to compete at the Olympics. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Brinkman)