Due to a family history closely related to horse racing and, being around horses since he was small kid, Pedro Mateos started getting involved in show jumping from a young age: “As a kid I also played soccer and combined both sports, but at the end I left soccer. I was better at horse riding.”
A professional since age 16 and a recent bachelor’s graduate in Odontology from the Complutense University of Madrid, now looking to pursue a master’s degree, Pedro works hard to balance both careers: “When I was little, I liked it [horse jumping] a lot and I was good at it. So we started little by little and now I can match it up with my studies and I can do both things at the same time - with a bit of strength, but I can manage. You have to find the time every day. I go to University in the morning and I give the horses all evening. And after that I go to the gym and start studying.”
With a career in show jumping as long as his, there is not enough time to name all victories and share all memories but Pedro, between laughs, remembers the Principe of Asturias Trophy (now known as Princess of Asturias) as one of his favourites: “I upgraded category: I was 15 or 16 years old and I was riding a horse that got along with me pretty well. So we upgraded to the 18-19 years old category and the prize was a car. I couldn’t even drive it when I won it”. His long list of accomplishments also includes winning the Grand Prix at Comporta (2010) and the Gran Prix at Toledo (2014), several golds in youth championships, being fifth in the European Ranking, and many more.
Pedro’s love for horse riding can be seen from miles away, but for him it's not just about competing and winning. The overall lifestyle is also something he deeply values: “Being with your team, your trainer, the family and the horses. At the end it is our world and you spend every weekend with the same people. You end up meeting everyone, getting to know all of the horses... I love everything it involves.” And when it comes to show jumping, he knows how important it is to have a good team: “I have been working with my stableman for 15 or 16 years - since I was a kid. He knows his tasks and I know my tasks. Then the horse knows its tasks, and so does my trainer, who is my father. We make a good team between the four of us.”
Because of his experience as a professional showjumper and his long relationship with horses, nerves don’t get to him when preparing for a competition but rather help him focus. However, before any start Pedro has to touch his horse on all sides, stretch his knees and cross himself. After those small rituals, he’s ready for action and enjoying the adrenaline.
And while he can handle pressure well, he does feel his horses getting tense. Between leaving home, the warm up area, and the main arena, his horses change moods - and how he manages them depends on which horse he’s riding: “Some horses are more difficult. It depends on the horse and how you adapt to it, walking him, trotting him a bit, depending on whether he likes how you ride him."
Having the right equipment can make a big difference and this is one of the moments where the Ophena magnetic safety stirrups do a fantastic job: “Sometimes horses might not have the perfect posture for you to sit on the saddle. Combine that with the pressure and trying to move faster during a Grand Prix, you might lose a stirrup. And right now [with Ophena] I don’t have that issue… You have the confidence of always, at any moment, having the stirrups in the position you need them.”
“You have the confidence of always, at any moment, having the stirrups in the position you need them.”
The innovative grip of the Ophena stirrups comes from their magnetic connection, which is created between the stirrups and special magnetic insoles. This connection gives you better control and prevents you from losing your stirrups, just like Pedro describes.
Currently, Pedro has three horses. The oldest one, Apriamo Z, has been with him for 5 years. When they first started jumping together, Apriamo Z was not jumping very high and was generally not very fast. But over the past three years he has been improving a lot and can now jump 1.50m. In Spain he has even become known as a horse that wins a lot. Pedro also has a lot of trust in his two younger horses: Levis C, a 9-year-old gelding, that is already jumping up to 1.45m; and Valdelamadre Ihala, a 7-year-old mare, that so far has a record of 11-0 starts.
This sensation of working with a horse and seeing how it improves is something Pedro truly enjoys: “Taking the horse from a lower level and improving together, making him win confidence in you and the other way round. Doing things together, competing together and improving each time, that’s what I like the most.”
However, accidents can happen at any time. Last June Pedro fell from his mare while wearing safety stirrups from another recognized brand. The fall resulted in a broken upper arm and four - when we are having this interview still ongoing - months away from show jumping. Pedro acknowledges that he would’ve liked to have his Ophena S: “She can be a little sensitive, so we decided to put the other ones on. And when I fell, well, I would've much preferred to have the Ophena”. Now he cannot wait to get back on the horse and into a competition: “It makes you want to get back up. Even shortly after a fall, competing makes you want to keep going. I want to compete."
“The ones I use during the Grand Prix, the ones I find more comfortable and useful are the Ophena stirrups.”
His opinion on the Ophena stirrups comes from his personal experience and from having tested pretty much all the other stirrups on the market. Although he has safety stirrups from other brands, he prefers to use the magnetic safety stirrups from Ophena during his competitions: “I also have other ones and depending on the model they can be lighter or heavier. If they are too light, they can fly around and end up over the saddle so you can’t get them back. Some have screws on the tread, which I like, but you end up noticing them too much. At the end, the ones I use during the Grand Prix, the ones I find more comfortable and useful, are the Ophena stirrups. They give you extra confidence and safety during the competition.”
Riders often report a small adjustment period when starting to ride with the magnetic stirrups from Ophena, since the magnetic grip is an entirely new sensation. And for Pedro this was not love at first sight. As he is used to riding more on his toes, he felt like the position of the magnets was too far back: “I got in touch with Ophena and they told me about the different positions. I first thought the C would be the one but it ended up with position B. I loved it and I stuck with it. This positions my feet really nicely, allowing me to lower my heel, which was one of my issues."
Ophena offers three different positions of the magnets in the magnetic insoles and over 96% of Ophena's customers are happy with the standard position. But if you are a toe rider, just like Pedro, you can simply contact the Ophena team and let them know which position you would rather have. All the information on magnetic insoles and the different magnet positions can be found here.
What does Pedro like best about his Ophena S Pro stirrups?
- He gets extra confidence
- His feet are always in the right position
- He can't lose the stirrups
Riding and jumping with magnetic stirrups can feel different, as Pedro explains: When the rider puts pressure on his stirrups while jumping (with and without magnets) the stirrups tend to move as the feet lift from their position a bit, which can change the posture of the rider when landing. So, normally, small readjustments have to be made after every jump. But this doesn’t happen with the magnetic safety stirrups by Ophena: “You’re in position before the jump and can press very well. After the jump, since they are connected, even if you move, they keep the same position. And that allows you to win some seconds, because you don’t have to readjust.”
And it is precisely this confidence in the Ophena stirrups that makes Pedro like them so much: “Not just the confidence of not losing the stirrups but the confidence in yourself. Confidence that everything will stay in position, everything will be in place. This allows you to stop thinking about the stirrups and your legs. It lets you focus more on the distance [to the obstacle], on how fast you’re going.”
“They give you additional confidence and safety during the competition.”
This is why Pedro recommends the Ophena stirrups to everyone, from amateurs to professionals: “I love the Ophena stirrups. With horses that are a bit more special, you do end up trusting a stirrup with which you can release yourself from the horse, that allows you to release yourself fast. And I would recommend them for competition, so so much. For amateurs and even professionals, they will give them a confidence point. Especially for amateurs they will give the additional confidence they need to increase from one height to another.”
Pedro is still recovering from his injury, and will be for at least until September, when he plans to slowly start training again. Luckily, his brother, who used to compete in the Spanish Grand Prix when he was a teenager, has started riding again and is helping Pedro keep his horses active.
And even though he will be missing the Spanish Championship, he is looking forward to the Picadero competitions, especially the Spanish Top Ten which he thinks will be his first competition once he has fully recovered.