Grace, style, and commitment are three words that sum up Wellington native, Lourdes de Guardiola, not only to detail how she carries herself, but also to describe who she is as a jumper, trainer and mentor. Living out her passion, she travels the world competing and training for renowned shows such as the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show, Global Champions Tour, and the Wellington Equestrian Festival. All the while, running a show jumper training and sales business with her husband, Michael Morrissey, and parenting their son, Lucas. The moment you meet her, you will soon realize that there is something truly special about Lourdes. As Alexis Posada TeStrake, longtime friend puts it, “Lourdes is a total chameleon; can go from fishing with a bunch of Cubans to the stables with the people she works with, to the horse show scene to fashion week to the black tie and is 100% at home in each of these scenarios.”
– Altima: How old were you when you first started riding?
– I first started riding around the age of 4 because my parents had horses at our house in Wellington. I think they felt safer if I was on a pony, so they bought my brother, Alex, and I two ponies from a local farm on 441 for $200 each. My mother, growing up in Buffalo had always dreamt of having a pony. My father George, had ridden and jumped when he was younger growing up in Cuba, and it passed through to me. My brother thinks they’re nice to look at, and that’s about as far as he got!
– Altima: What inspired you to start riding?
– I’ve had some great trainers help me through my riding career, but every time I sit on a horse I think of Ronnie Mutch. He was a legend. I was very fortunate to have him teach me when I transitioned from ponies to horses. He taught me feeling and connection. Every time I pick up my reins I hear his voice, and it pushes me to always dig a little deeper.
– Altima: Where do you get your inspiration before a competition or while teaching?
– I really love to teach, and I also believe this comes from Ronnie. He would stand next to me for hours, describing every last detail about how the horse should feel in your hands and legs, how every turn should ride, how your shoulders help the horse create the best jump it can have. When teaching my students, I feel that explanation is the key to growth. Telling someone they are wrong does not help them to make it right. But explaining, demonstrating, and patience usually leads to furthered success.
I am also very passionate about teaching horses to become the best horse they can be. Not all will jump the Olympics, but they all have a top potential, and I really like finding that. I thoroughly enjoy doing my “homework” at the farm and then taking the horse to the show for the “test”. It is very rewarding to see your hard work turn into success.
And of course there are bumps along the way, but that is what makes me want to work harder and overcome them.
– Altima: What events have you participated in this season?
– This season I will be spending October through April in Wellington. My husband, Michael Morrissey, and I run a show jumper training and sales business. This winter is exciting because there are now multiple show venues, within an hour from Wellington, that provide top show jumping competition. We will both compete and train at the Winter Equestrian Festival, The Wellington Masters, and the Global Champions Tour that kicks off in South Beach in April. I will then be traveling to Europe to train at the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show in St. Tropez, and then follow most of the Global Champions Tour competitions, including Cannes, Monaco, Paris and Rome. My husband will be taking his string of jumpers to Traverse City for the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and then back east for the American Gold Cup in North Salem, NY.
– Altima: Which competition do you look forward to watching this season?
– This year feels very exciting in our world of show jumping because it is an Olympic year. Many of the top riders have been planning their last four years around the Olympics. It’s great to see riders, coaches, managers, all digging in deep, to become the best in the world. These are the years in which we learn and grow, being able to study the greats in our sport, all aspiring to be at the top.
– Altima: What does your free time look like?
– When Michael and I do have free time, we spend it with our son Lucas. He’s 11. He does not have that riding bug that Michael and I inherited, although like my brother, enjoys our horses and our sport. As a family we are fortunate enough to travel the world, eat at amazing restaurants, and enjoy our life and our passions.