When Mexico’s Daniela Moguel first arrived at Tryon International Equestrian Center a year ago for The Fork, she had no idea that big transitions were on the horizon. At 35, Daniela was an accomplished eventer and business owner in Mexico City, running a thriving equestrian operation with her husband Souli.
The story began over 17 years ago, when Moguel moved from Mexico down the road from what is now the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), to the neighboring Shelby, to work for eventer Joy Pharr. “She was my trainer 17 years ago,” noted Moguel, “and she took me to Young Riders. I was a working student for her when I finished high school, I came for a year to work for her, and then went back to Mexico.”
With little thought of permanently uprooting her life, Moguel continued to work hard at home in Mexico, working her way up the levels with her sights set on continuing international competition. “One night my husband was checking the internet, and he saw the ad for Cecilia. When he saw her, he told me that she was my horse,” Moguel joked, “I said ‘oh perfect, do you have a check right now!?”
“After that it kept being brought up, and for three days in a row he showed me the video of her. I didn’t even want to look because what’s the point of falling in love if you can’t pay for the horse? And then I watched it and thought yeah, he’s right, she’s pretty cool.
“I showed her to the owner of the farm, and his wife, and we went to America to try her. The second I sat on Cecelia, it felt like a match made in heaven. I knew she was my horse. It was just easy; everything was right there. It is like when you meet the love of your life and you know it’s him. That’s what it was like with the horse.”
After discovering and purchasing her dream horse thanks to the support of her farm owner in Mexico and other partners, Moguel’s plan was to compete and then sell her current international mount, 2003 Thoroughbred mare Cecelia, after 2016.
Moguel continued, “We had about six months with her before the 2015 Pan American Games, and we had a great performance there. The idea was to only keep her for the Pan Ams and then sell her. But we did so well that we thought we’d see if we could go any further. We did the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, and the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG), and we have gone far.”
After Kentucky Moguel’s family helped her out and generously bought the shares the other partners had owned in Cecelia, making the mare an official member of the family.
While based in Mexico, Moguel had been working hard in the United States, commuting frequently for over four years to compete Cecelia. “Everything really began when I was preparing for those Pan Ams,” Moguel explained. “I was coming here to compete and then going back to Mexico to work, and I did it for quite a while.”
Fast forward to 2018, and plans to compete at the WEG. After arriving at The Fork, which also served as the Test Event for the World Championships, everything suddenly came full circle for Moguel once more. “We were at the spectator party,” she said, “and I heard someone calling my name. It was Joy Pharr. She recognized me after 17 years, and we were catching up and I said that I had just acquired a visa. She had stopped working with horses but still had her farm, and she hadn’t found anyone to keep the farm going with horses. I said to my husband, ‘let’s give it a try!”
The couple closed their house and barn in Mexico, and right after competing at WEG, officially moved to the Carolinas. “I like this area now because we have the jumpers and we can go out and event as well,” Moguel elaborated. “It takes time and a while to get the word out, but we would like to take boarders and riders, the whole deal. What I would like to eventually have here, is the same type of operation that we had in Mexico. It was like a club, it was a place where kids could come and ride their horses after school, and older adults could come too. We had sales horses too. We did a lot of jumpers too.”
As Moguel strides into the final days of competition here at The Fork, she takes comfort in the memories of her biggest Championship yet, with big plans for the future on the list, too. “To come back here for The Fork brings really nice memories,” she stated. “We had a really great show at the WEG, it was a big deal for us to be able to represent Mexico in eventing. The experience was very positive for us. This is one of the best facilities in the country, and it’s a really cool place. Having such a great time then, coming back here feels like home.”
Moguel concluded, “TIEC is helping to pump up the level of sport, and what I like about being in this area is the opportunity to participate and compete against the best of the best. There is so much trainability here for the horses. The place chose me! I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that we are here in this region for exactly.”
The Fork at TIEC continues with show jumping today for the upper levels and cross-country for the lower levels.
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