Venezuelan rider Pablo Barrios has made his mark on the European showjumping circuit this summer; in June he won the five-star Prix Generali in Cannes, and Barrios has also enjoyed several other good results in the Global Champions Tour. WoSJ met up with Pablo to find out more about him, his sponsor and how he finds Europe.
Pablo started riding at the age of ten in Venezuela, and has been on the horse back ever since. Of his slightly different background he explains; “After I went to university I started working as an architect, and I worked together with my father for many years. During this period I rode as an amateur, but at the age of 27 I decided to go professional as I was running tired of what I was working with. I have always liked the riding, so I wanted to give it a go. I stayed in Venezuela and competed there, but ten years ago I moved to the States,” Barrios explains.
Two years ago Pablo started to ride for the G & C Farm, owned by Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal; “I moved to the US without any sponsors, and build my self up. I rode together with Gustavo – who is now my owner. Gustavo actually used to be a lawyer, but switched that for the horses. Two years ago he called me and asked if I wanted to start riding some of G & C horses, and since then I have been with them,” Pablo smiles. “I am now based in Wellington, and keep all my horses at the G&C Farm. I also own a part of our top horses G & C Sinatra, Flash and La Gran,” he continues.
This winter Pablo was very successful during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, and amongst very good results there was a win in one of the Grand Prix’s with G & C Quick Star. This spring he moved on to the European circuit; “I came to Europe in May; to the Hermes show. I was invited over to Europe to ride in the Global Champions Tour as I now am in the top 30 on the world ranking. Since then I have been keeping the horses in Chantilly, and competing in the GCT and at other big shows. My last show in Europe will be Rotterdam I think, and then we head back home,” Pablo says.
“Competing in Europe has been a great experience for me and my horses. When we competed in Wellington this winter we were in the same ring all the time. Here we move around from show to show, so the horses don’t get tired or bored. The standard of the courses are pretty similar here and in Wellington though, but a big difference is of course that here I’m competing against the best in the world – which makes doing well a lot more difficult,” the Venezuelan. “I have managed to keep almost the exact same spot in the world ranking though, which is very good as I was a little worried that I would drop down a lot due to the stiff competition in Europe,” he smiles.
There are many differences between the European and the American showjumping scene, and Barrios points out that there are few five star shows in the east circuit of the US, and also few classes that give FEI ranking points. When it comes to the American riders, Pablo lets us know that “A big group of the best American riders stays in the US, and seldom come to Europe. They have to take care of their business as well, which makes it difficult to come here,” before he continues “there is little movement from the bottom unfortunately, there are few new names coming up – a lot of the younger riders quit competing when they start to study, which limits the numbers of new riders coming up.”
On the question of whether he will return to the art of architecture, Pablo smiles and says; “No, I don’t think so. But I have to admit that I have been doing a few things for some friends and for my self from time to time. I even drew the barn at home!”
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