Bogota, Colombia — Nov. 28, 2017 — The Bolivarian Games are an annual, regional multi-sport event that highlight the countries of Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador. The dressage competition this year, held Nov. 18-21 in Santa Marta, Colombia, saw history made by Team Ecuador and one of their pairs, Julio Mendoza and Chardonnay as they took home both individual and team gold medals. Since launching 18 years ago, the games have not seen Ecuador take home gold in either the individual or team capacity, and this year, they saw both.
“I felt very blessed to achieve such a result after all the hard work and determination. Chardonnay’s canter pirouettes are one of his highlights which he very rarely receives below an 8. His half passes are also very fluid and easy for him,” Mendoza explained of Chardonnay. “Our favorite test was the Prix St. Georges where we were able to put in a very clean test. For one judge every movement in the test we made was a 7, 8, or 9 – and we earned our highest score ever in International competition a 76 percent!”
Mendoza’s career started when he was a young boy on his father’s farm in Tumbaco, Ecuador, where he played the part of both trainer and rider to students and horses in the area. After competing successfully in the International Cup for five years in a row, Mendoza relocated to the U.S. to expand his training and competition record. Since moving to the United States he has been no stranger to competition and has achieved all USDF bronze, silver and gold medals. Mendoza and the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding Chardonnay (Comic Hilltop x Northern Baron) have been a team for many years and have had success as a team at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games prior.
Although Mendoza is based in Columbus, North Carolina, where he operates Mendoza Dressage LLC, he still proudly represents Team Ecuador in competition.
“I was very excited and proud to represent Ecuador — and also nervous,” Mendoza said of the event. “We had many challenges getting to the Games with travel complications, customs, paperwork, installations, feed/grain, etc. It almost at times seemed impossible that we would ever make it to the arena to compete but we did it with the help of so many and we are very thankful!”
This was the first time Ecuador earned the team gold medal in dressage with a point accumulation of 208.6 points. In addition to Mendoza, Ecuador’s team included Caroline Espinoza Navarro on Emiliano P and Maria Jose Granja on Pegazo. Colombia earned the team silver medal, while Peru rounded out the podium with the bronze.
Mendoza shattered history again two days after the team victory when his final individual test catapulted him to the top of the leader board with the total score from his three rounds accumulating to 72.973 percent.
Coming off such a successful end to his 2017 show season, Mendoza is aiming to represent Ecuador and qualify Chardonnay for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, just down the road from Mendoza Dressage LLC.