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Still going strong: Babel

Tuesday, 25 October 2022
Still going strong

Photo © MacKenzie Clark “He has always won a lot,” Patricio Pasquel tells WoSJ about his 15-year-old gelding Babel. Photo © MacKenzie Clark.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

In our series ‘Still going strong’, we get to know more about the oldest four-legged superstars that are still active in the sport. What does it take to keep these seniors fit to compete at the top of the sport, and what kind of program have they had throughout their careers? This time, World of Showjumping had a chat with Mexico’s Patricio Pasquel to learn more about his home-bred 15-year-old Babel (Billy du Lys x High-Flyer), who has had a long and successful career.

In March this year, Babel and Pasquel were part of the Mexican team that won the Nations Cup in Coapexpan, while in June they helped Mexico secure a second-place finish in the Nations Cup at Thunderbird Show Park and topped the CSI5* 1.55m PwC Cup at Spruce Meadows. In September, they won the CSIO5* 1.55m Friends of the Meadows, and placed third in the CSI5* 1.60m Friends of the Meadows Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows. In between, Babel and Pasquel traveled to Europe to compete at the FEI Jumping World Championship 2022.

Although it can seem like Babel has had an intense year, he has only done ten shows – including the World Championship and the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ – and won four 1.60m classes. “He has always won a lot,” Pasquel tells. “Throughout his career, whatever step we took with him, going from one height to the other, he always won. He has picked up over 100 wins during his career. We never had any difficulty; he was always a simple horse to ride and compete.”

Born to win

Photo © MacKenzie Clark. "When he was six, I already took him to Spruce Meadows and he won a few 1.20m classes there; he basically won every class I entered him to," Pasquel tells. Photo © MacKenzie Clark.

Babel comes from Pasquel’s own breeding program. “I have brought up all my Grand Prix horses from youngsters myself; we breed, develop and buy young horses – that is how we do it. Babel was born at my friend’s ranch, and when he was two, I brought him over to our place,” Pasquel explains. “His mother never jumped, but she had a lot of blood. She was by High-Flyer, who is a famous stallion in Mexico. We thought it would be a good idea to use a stallion with a lot of scope and a big stride on her, and so we chose Billy du Lys. I think Babel is the right combination of the two.”

I actually wanted to give him away when he was two

As a foal and a youngster, Babel was a bit of a rascal in the stable. “Babel was a disaster in a sense that he opened all the stalls and ran around,” Pasquel recalls about the first years. “We had to castrate him. He was not a very good looking horse, and he did not look amazing free jumping – so I actually wanted to give him away when he was two. I ended up keeping him though, and when Babel was four, I decided to start competing with him. I said I will try to win the young horse championships in Mexico with him, and everyone told me I was crazy. However, he became the Mexican Champion when he was five, and also took the title as a six- and seven-year-old. When he was six, I already took him to Spruce Meadows and he won a few 1.20m classes there; he basically won every class I entered him to.”

Showing less than others

Photo © MacKenzie Clark. "I am not a professional rider, showjumping is my hobby, so I don’t show as much as the professionals do," Pasquel tells. Photo © MacKenzie Clark.

When Babel was eight, he won at international two-star level and as a nine-year-old, he won his first three-star Grand Prix. “Since then, he has won a lot,” Pasquel says. “He has won over million Euros in prize money. I am not a professional rider, showjumping is my hobby, so I don’t show as much as the professionals do. I am a CEO of a group of companies in Mexico, I have a full-time job and only ride every day from 6.30 to 9.30 in the morning. I really have to plan my everyday activities. Zoom has helped me a lot, because I can show more and still get some work done, even when I am outside of Mexico. I really enjoy my hobby and I do it very intense, even though I have many responsibilities in my businesses. I do around 20 shows per year myself and Babel does about ten of them – I think the year he showed the most, he did thirteen shows."

He has won over million Euros in prize money

"For sure this has helped Babel a lot in having a healthy, long career: He does not show a lot compared to other horses on the highest level. This year, he has done ten shows; including the World Championship in Herning and the Masters in Calgary. We showed a bit more intense in the summer; then Babel went to Europe and only did a small class in Lier before going to Herning for the World Championship. Then he came to Calgary and competed two days during the first week and then jumped the Masters.”

Photo © MacKenzie Clark. "He does not show a lot compared to other horses on the highest level," Pasquel tells about Babel. Photo © MacKenzie Clark.

“He is a very competitive, intelligent horse,” Pasquel tells about Babel’s personality. “By now, he does not need to be competing much; when he goes to the ring, he knows his job. Obviously, I have to ride more to practice, and I have plenty of young horses for that purpose.”

He knows where the rails are and he loves to win, really loves to win

“I think the secret with Babel is his character. We competed with him since he was very young, and he won a lot – he got used to winning and being very competitive. He knows where the rails are and he loves to win, really loves to win – that is his best quality. He is so fast over the fences, he does not lose time in the air and he covers a lot of ground – I believe he can beat any horse in the world in a jump-off. His will to do it is incredible. He is a winner, he is competitive all over the world: He has been in Aachen, in Dublin – and he is still going strong as a 15-year-old, he is very sound.”

Active rest

Photo © MacKenzie Clark. "I try to balance it; he keeps working as if there was a show coming, every day – but he is also in the paddock daily, enjoying life," Pasquel tells about Babel's daily routines at home when he has active rest. Photo © MacKenzie Clark.

Active rest has been key in Babel’s long career. “At home, he works every day,” Pasquel tells about the gelding’s training program. “He goes in the walker in the morning, then he is ridden, and then he goes in the paddock. In the afternoon, he walks again. We jump him maybe once every two weeks, just before a show we might do a little gymnastic. We only focus on keeping him healthy and sound. It is very important that he is very fit; when he gets over-weight, he gets unmotivated."

I try to balance it; he keeps working as if there was a show coming, every day – but he is also in the paddock daily, enjoying life

"Right now, following Calgary, I am going to give him a month off without shows, and he will have active rest; paddock time, walker and riding. What I mean with active rest is that he works about 45 minutes in the morning, and spends the rest of the day in the paddock. I try to balance it; he keeps working as if there was a show coming, every day – but he is also in the paddock daily, enjoying life.”

Olympic dreams

Photo © MacKenzie Clark. "I enjoy spending time with him, going to the shows with him and feeling his will to win – it is an amazing pleasure, I am a very lucky guy to have a horse like him," Pasquel says. Photo © MacKenzie Clark.

In 2018, the Mexicans made a dream come true when lifting the Aga Khan-trophy after winning the Nations Cup in Dublin, Ireland – a victory that for Pasquel has been the most memorable moment with Babel so far. “That was an amazing day,” he recalls. “All the big Grand Prix wins have also meant a lot, but most of all just to have him around is the biggest gift. I enjoy spending time with him, going to the shows with him and feeling his will to win – it is an amazing pleasure, I am a very lucky guy to have a horse like him. I think every rider in the world has a horse that they have had a long relationship with, that they have won a lot with. For me, Babel has been the best horse I have ever had and to find another one like him is going to be difficult. We are trying to develop young horses that can hopefully replace him one day. We have three horses out of the same mother that have jumped Grand Prix classes and right now I have an 8-year-old mare that is really good. However, my priority is keeping Babel happy and sound. I take good care of him, and really choose the classes that I do with him very carefully. My objective is to keep him going until Paris 2024, and then I will retire him. We are going to keep him as fit and sound as we can, so that he can compete at the Paris Olympic Games as a 17-year-old.”

 

No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping.com

 



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