Riding's JANUARY, 2008 COVER STORY!


California Riding Magazine • January, 2008

Fugitivo XII
A dressage champion in the making.

by Kathleen Burke Jensen

At a Woodside dressage show this summer, while warming up in an arena filled with Warmbloods, a flashy dappled grey Pura Raza Española (P.R.E.) stallion radiated a powerful presence coupled with quiet dignity. Spectators murmured to each other, “Which horse is that?” as the spectacular stallion’s trainer rode him with the lightest of aids. Meet Fugitivo XII.

A special group came together to bring Fugitivo XII to the U.S. from Spain and manage his blossoming dressage career. The team consists of owners Shelly and Jim Lucero, rider/trainer Katie Hoefs, Katie’s trainer Pam Nelson and Juan Matute of Spain, who sold Fugitivo XII to the Luceros in 2005.

Photo: Jorge Montalvo

Juan sent a videotape of Fugitivo XII to Pam. “Both Jim and I were just entranced with the beauty of this amazing animal,” recalls Shelly. “We knew we wanted him and are just so honored that we’ve been given the opportunity to bring him to the U.S. and show the dressage community what he’s capable of under the instruction and guidance of Katie and Pam.”

Pam is a USDF gold, silver and bronze medalist as well as a USEF “S” dressage judge. She co-owns the competitive dressage barn Villa Rosa, which is managed by her daughter, Heidi Gaian. During her competitive career, Pam spent five years on the United States Equestrian Team Grand Prix short list and in 1987 was chef d’equipe for the gold medal-winning Young Rider team. In 2007, Pam also trained a member of the gold medal Young Rider team.

Photo: Jorge Montalvo

Katie is an accomplished dressage rider and trainer based in Gilroy at Woodmyst Farms, where Fugitivo XII is boarded. Riding since the age of 9, Katie has earned her USDF bronze, silver and gold medals, as well as her USDF Gold Bar for I-1 and Grand Prix Freestyles. She’s also won USDF Region 7 Championships at Fourth Level, Prix St.Georges and I-1.

Three-time Olympian and six-time Spanish National Champion Juan Matute first spotted Fugitivo XII in Spain. Juan has an international reputation for selecting horses from only the finest bloodlines in the world. He has an eye for qualities such as gaits, nobility, beauty and balance of mind, and has a proven performance record with his young horses that go on to compete at FEI Grand Prix. Juan is responsible for bringing the best P.R.E. stallions to the U.S., including Gaucho III, Rociero XV, Copon and Fugitivo XII. Juan comes to the U.S. to give clinics several times a year at Villa Rosa, and Katie and Fugitivo XII always participate.

Photo: Jorge Montalvo

As an amateur rider, Shelly’s enthusiasm for horses and dressage is contagious. She and husband Jim can be found at every show where Katie is competing Fugitivo XII. Not satisfied to sit in the background, Shelly is at either Pam’s or Katie’s barn (or both) every day, riding her horses, all gentle P.R.E. stallions, keeping all the horses in carrots, and distributing good cheer everywhere she goes.

When asked what he makes of the whole horse-crazy world, Jim says with a grin that spending time at the barn has given him a deeper understanding of all the work that goes into a successful dressage test. “The first time I saw a competition I thought that the whole thing looked pretty effortless,” he says. Katie chimes in, “That’s the way it should be!” Jim goes on to say, “I have a lot of respect and admiration for all the hard work and Katie’s competitive spirit.”

Photo: Jorge Montalvo

A Winning Year

It’s important to Juan that Fugitivo XII has a solid education before he spends too much time breeding, so Pam and Katie focused on a busy show season in 2007, bringing Fugitivo XII along from Training to First Level with great success. “He’s so talented,” Katie enthuses. “It would be so tempting to push him along. But this team has his best interest at heart so we’re going to be paient and bring him along at a proper pace.”

The team competes Fugitivo XII in open dressage shows, not limiting him to breed shows. “He’s a dressage horse first, a P.R.E. second,” says Pam. “We plan to take him as far as he can go.”

Photo: Jorge Montalvo

Fugitivo XII started his winning streak early on. As a 3-year-old he earned National Champion status. Just last month he received qualification by the Spanish Tribunals for Qualified Breeding Stock, one of only a few P.R.E. horses in the U.S. to receive this important status. This was the first year that Spain sent a tribunal to judge P.R.E.s in the United States. When the horse reaches adulthood, usually 3 or 4 years old, it is examined for minimum size, quality, transmissible faults and breed fidelity. When it passes this approval it is said to be “apto,” or accepted into the Spanish Stud book for breeding. Only horses that have been through this process can be correctly called P.R.E. horses.

At the 2007 P.R.E. Celebration in Las Vegas, Fugitivo XII won the 5- and 6-year-old Stallion Championship in addition to the National P.R.E. Champion of Champions title for the entire show. Fugitivo XII, by nature’s gift, is a superb representative of the breed. Pam attributes his success to the dressage training. “He’s in wonderful shape and so beautifully muscled that alongside the other P.R.E. horses he really stood out,” she says.

Photo: Jorge Montalvo

This amazing year was recently topped with three first-place rankings in the USDF All-Breeds Awards for the Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse: FEI 5-Year-Old, Open Training Level and Open First Level. “Everybody just stepped up to the plate,” says Shelly, who appreciates how smoothly things run when a group of people have a common goal and communicate well. Not to mention the talents that each player brings to the table. “No one can ride a test like Katie,” says Pam as Katie blushes a bit under the praise.

Fugitivo XII is a natural competitor, too, and he and Katie make a good team. “He loves the show ring,” Katie says as she gives Fugitivo’s giant neck a good scratch. At the same time he’s a gentle giant who epitomizes the breed’s reputation for even temperament.

Jim and Shelly Lucero, Katie Hoefs and
Juan Matute with the superstar, Fugitivo XII!

A Blossoming Dressage Career

Pam and Katie are excited about what Fugitivo XII has to offer the dressage community. Three great gaits, an over-reaching walk, a trot with great suspension, expression in the front and hind legs, and a very rhythmic and reaching canter are among his attributes in the dressage court, as well as a natural talent for the collected movements.

Standing 16.3hh with athletic body and frame characteristics that make the most of his height, Fugitivo XII is a perfect gentleman under saddle and on the ground. Fugitivo XII’s bloodlines represent Spain’s best. Bred by Nahman Andic Ermay, he is out of Fugitiva VIII, a descendant of the influential stallion Agente. Through that line, Fugitivo XII is related to several of the Spanish horses that have paved the way for the P.R.E. in international dressage competition. Fugitivo XII’s famous relatives include Olympic horses Evento, Oleaje and Invasor II.

Photo: Jorge Montalvo

Katie is a veteran dressage trainer, but had not worked with Spanish horses before Fugitivo XII. “Giving is the best description of him,” she says enthusiastically. “Everything you ask of him he is willing to try and to try his hardest. He’s easy to ride, very focused and able to remember what he’s learned, which is remarkable for such a young horse.”

She acknowledges that some Spanish horses are better suited for dressage than others. Fugitivo XII’s modern body type makes him perfectly suited for the sport. His movement is smooth and flowing, and powered by plenty of propulsion from the hindquarters.
Fugitivo XII came out of the breeding program of Nahman Andic Ermay in Spain. The breeder has enjoyed great success in the past five years, especially for the dressage characteristics of
his horses.

As a rider and trainer, Katie focuses on achieving what she calls a happy horse/rider combination. She especially enjoys progressing from the beginning through the levels in training and competition, which makes Fugitivo XII a good fit.

Katie is a proponent of education for both herself and her students, including clinics and continuing education seminars. She works with Pam on a regular basis, knowing it’s always good to have a fresh perspective. “There is always more to learn,” she says. She graduated the USDF “L” Education Program with distinction and plans to continue working toward her “r” dressage judge credentials.

A Special Horse

“As an amateur, you hear that you should never ride a stallion,” Shelly observes. But P.R.E. stallions seem a different sort, and Shelly is now regularly riding two P.R.E. stallions herself, a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. “It just tells you how gentle these horses are.” Shelly admits that her interest in these horses snowballed instantly, but she has no regrets about being the proud owner of now three P.R.E. stallions. Because of his potential as an improvement sire for dressage-bound P.R.E.s and Warmbloods, Fugitivo XII will be the main focus of her breeding business endeavors.

Fugitivo XII will be available to a limited number of registered P.R.E. mares and pre-approved Warmblood mares in 2008.

For inquiries regarding Fugitivo XII please contact Shelly Lucero at shellylucero@sbcglobal.net or visit www.fugitivoxii.com. For information on Villa Rosa contact Pam Nelson at 831-636-0584, or vilarosa@razzolink.com or visit www.vrdressage.com. For information on Katie Hoefs Dressage, call 650-714-7526 or katiehoefs@yahoo.com.