In London Alberto Michan showed that he is should be counted with when he rose to the occasion and ended fifth individually on Rosalia La Silla. An exciting and relatively new star on the showjumping sky, Alberto has reached the top in a different way than most other top showjumpers – coming from a quite normal life in Mexico with a job in the textile industry that he held right until 2011. But the Mexican showjumper has some qualities that he shares with those who are the best in the world; he is humble and empathic – and extremely passionate about his horses.
“I’ve lived in Mexico City all my life,” the soon to be 34 year old explains when we meet him in the humid and extremely warm Valkenswaard. “Both my parents rode; my mother did showjumping and my father did a Mexican discipline called charros – which is a kind of rodeo. I wanted to ride from I was young, and as my mother thought the showjumping environment was better suited for a young kid I ended up doing that instead of following in my father’s footsteps.”
“So, when I was five years old I started riding and at the age of seven or eight I started to compete. In 1987 – when I was nine – I became a national champion,” Alberto explains. And after that it went from strength to strength for Michan who claimed medals every year up until 2007 in the different age classes he was in. “As a young rider I went on to do some international competitions, and in 1996 I won the gold medal at the North American Championship.
The big step up on the international ladder came in 2006 though, when Alberto competed at his first World Cup Final in Kuala Lumpur and at the WEG in Aachen. “I rode Chinobampo Lavita, and she was a horse that I found by coincidence when we went by a stable nearby my home. I made a deal with the owners and went into a partnership with them. Lavita was an honest and brave horse, and she always tried. I ended up riding the Olympics in Beijing on her, and it was on her that my debut on the really big shows came.”
In 2008 Michan went out on his biggest adventure so far; and started to cooperate with fellow Mexican Alfonso Romo – the man behind Hipico La Silla. “I started out with two five year olds from Romo. In 2009 he asked me to come with him to France to look at a horse, and the horse was Rosalia La Silla. I immediately told Romo that ‘this is my horse, I really like her’ – and that was it!” It turned out she really was, proving to be a perfect match for Alberto. “I competed her at the Central American Games in 2010 where we claimed individual and team silver, and then I rode her at the Pan Am Games last year where we ended fifth individually and got the team bronze with Mexico. And then she got fifth at the Olympics,” Alberto says proudly of the mare that in the future will be seen competing for Qatar. “Rosalia is a fantastic horse, so, so nice!”
With the support of Alfonso Romo, Alberto Michan has now based himself in Europe for the first time in his career. “After the Pan Am Games Romo suggested that I should ride full time and professionally. So now I’m here to be a part of the top sport; to train harder and compete against the best in the world. With the help of Rolf [-Göran Bengtsson]and Theo [Molenaers], I got to the Olympics and performed well – so that shows a lot of what it means to stay here. My plan is to stay here to improve, as it’s the only way to reach the standard of the best. And while I’m here I hope to produce some quality horses,” the Mexican rider smiles while he explains that he has rented a yard in Belgium. “I have my wife and my two kids with me. It’s a bit sad to be far away from our families, but at the same time the four of us see each other more than before which is fantastic! And it’s also safer in Europe than in Mexico,” Alberto explains of his new life.
Although his winter season calendar is not set, Alberto hopes to get some invitations for the big shows and maybe do some World Cup qualifiers. “I’ll stay here in Europe for the rest of 2012, and then we’ll make a decision on either the Winter Equestrian Festival or the Sunshine Tour,” he explains.
With such a fantastic performance in London, we ask Michan how he experienced the Games. “I really trusted my horse, and it just felt like she got better and better during the Olympics. In the final – at that very moment – it felt like I had the best horse in the world. I didn’t think about where I was and what was going on around me – it was all about the horse and how amazing she felt!”
Alberto smiles when we ask him about the future, and says; “The showjumping has always been my hobby, and now I’m doing it professionally. If it goes very well, I will keep it going like this!”