Mercedes Tapia speaks with Horsereporter
8 April 2017, USA ~ Mercedes, congratulations on winning the 2016 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Best Endurance Rider Award. We would say you were born in the saddle. Can you tell us about your passion for horse riding and healing?
HR: How long have you been riding horses? How long have you ridden endurance?
MT: I was born between horses as my Grandfather and my Father were breeders in Argentina, then I studied to be a Veterinarian to be sure that my life would be with horses. Our breed were Criolo horses at that moment, but in 1999 a large Arabian breeder in Argentina asked me to train his horses for endurance and there began my story with the Arabian horse, and I never left.
My first World Championship was in 2002 Jerez de la Frontera with a big and tall Arab Horse named Ras Kasal. and we finished with the best place for South America.
MT: I am the trainer and rider of my horses. If I have to choose one horse as a favorite it would be Ras Kasal (Ansata Aly Jamil x Ras Karima) because with him we did three World Championships and one Pan-American Championship. After that I have fallen in love with many other horses because they usually steal my heart! I used to ride for other breeders, but since 2012 I ride only for my own farm and breeding.
HR: Do you breed to any specific pedigree?
MT: I love the Shaklan line and I like to try to cross with the best Polo lines. I have a super-athletic AngloArab, and I also like the Polish lines as well.
HR: Can you tell us about your Veterinarian Center in Saladillo, Argentina, in the center of Buenos Aires?
MT: In importance for me, first is Endurance training and second being a Horse Veterinarian. As a Vet I work with Polo Breeders, especially with foaling. Also we receive post surgery patients at our farm, Centro de Entrenamiento y Rehabilitation Equina, as my husband Eduardo is a Horse Orthopedic Surgeon. My daughter Flor also is a Horse Vet and a very good endurance rider. She is very patient especially with new horses, and we always try to share this sport that we love!
HR: Tell us about a life changing moment for you in an endurance ride.
MT: I am so lucky that I have had the chance more than once to save another rider’s life. In Normandy I came upon Claudia (Claudia Romero Chacon) of Costa Rica at the precise moment that she had an accident. I was two minutes behind her so I found her. My entire life changed after that moment. It was a miracle, she knows and I know.*
*Claudia Romero Chacon and her horse Dorado, slid into a tree on the first loop of the 160k in Normandy at the 2014 WEG. Dorado died instantly and Claudia was pinned unconscious under the horse. Chacon underwent surgery for fractures and internal injuries but has recovered.
MT: What does this Award mean to me? This is so important for me, the recognition of many years of training and riding but especially for women of the world and the Endurance World because we need this sport to be known. This is the best sport for horseman that gives you the chance to spend so much time with your horse that you fall in love every day.
MT: I am so thankful with HH Sheika Fatima Bint Mubarak, with Lara and with all the organization of this amazing event.
MT: I hope to be part of the next World Endurance Championship (2018 World Equestrian Games) in North Carolina and probably this time with an American horse, because having the chance as a Elite Rider, I want to go. I have so may good friends in the USA that I will try to make this opportunity!
HR: Can you explain the title of Elite Rider?
MT: Elite rider means that you can choose a horse for a world Championship even if you don’t qualify as per the FEI rules* – you have to qualify with the horse doing a binomio 160 km ride (together). In Argentina there are two Elite Riders: Josefina Chas and I.
*FEI – Senior Elite Athlete status might be awarded to riders who successfully complete a minimum of 10 CEI 3* 160km events or higher. To maintain Senior Elite Athlete status, Athletes must successfully complete at least one CEI 160 km within every successive 24 months.
MT: Until now I have competed in six World Championships and also regularly compete in Italy, France and the UAE. In the same fashion, I invite riders from many countries to ride my horses. It is the best way to share our passion.
Thank you Mecha. I am most happy to see you again and look forward to the next time.