Exclusiv-Interview with Nuno José Rodrigues Avelar – National Trainer of German Team Working Equitation 2018
His professional career – personal advices to be a good rider and what you call a good horse – his personal meaning about the top executives
Nuno shows himself as Person and as Trainer as well authentic, straight and pure. His perspective shows his deep respect to human, horses and his passion for horse riding. With an eye for the larger picture his understanding for his position is a mediator between rider and horse. His lessons are filled with clear tasks and a huge commitment, wit and charme for his students also for the top executives. This young Portuguese already found his place in the world of working equitation and is a popular Trainer in Europe. He is a “old hand” in WE with many experiences. WED e.V. is very happy that they could convince him as trainer for the german national Team.
WEN actually asked Nuno Avelar and he took time for this interview although his busy diary.
Many thanks to the sympatical Trainer, who is doing his work with enthusiasm and joy.
Can you tell us a little more about yourself, like where were you born ?
I’m born/raised in Malveira/Mafra , 20km north-west of Lisbon. No one in my family has – or had – nothing to do with horses. I had a nice happy childhood, and I’m very lucky that my parents did give me the chance to get my wish come true as a kid, at age of 7. Later on, around 11, that it got to be an addiction.
How and why you have started riding and who was mentoring you?
I started riding like I said , at age of 7 , just like every kid does. I had good moments around horses, and the passion came and grew and became a chronic addiction. My family has a house near the ocean and at age of 12 or 13 I stopped going with them on vacations; I just wanted to be in the riding school in Alcainça (Mafra) . I never paid any lessons because the owner had good friendship and respect for my grandfather and my mother. And that made possible for me to ride a few horses every day, every weekend, every school vacation. At that time I had George Malleroni as my mentor, he was a habitual student of Mr Nuno Oliveira. Then, at age of 15, I went to a special school to become a riding instructor. It was in the magical place Alter Real stud farm. I was there for 3 years of my life. It may not be fair to say it was the best , but it was surely one of the best periods of my life.
There I meet Bento Castelhano. At this time he was the best in working equitation, and I learned from him for the next 5 years, and half of this time nearly every single day. At the end I started to ride with Bento’s master to keep learning more and go further , Mr João Lopes Aleixo ( a great horseman with endless knowledge).
My first job was at age of 18, as a rider and manager of a stable with lusitano horses near Boston. I was there total 1.5 years with some vacations in Portugal during the Winter. . Then I returned to Portugal and for around 5 years I was working for a great man and top Lusitano breeder Mr Ferraz da Costa. There I was in charge of the full reproduction, management , training and sale of the horses. I also did compete in the biggest lusitano shows with the young horses, from 1 to 5 years olds.
When I was 25 years old I moves back „home“ and started my own project and started working for myself. There I trained horses for various sports and purposes. It was then that I meet a client that became a very good friend, and „Bogotá“ came into my life.BOGOTÁ was bought by Nuno Sa and his family as an investment and a sponsorship. No one had ever given me that chance. In Portugal ( maybe not just on Portugal) money and people blood lines speaks higher.
And, due to that, because I’m not either from a known family in the field or from a rich family I didn’t got the same chances. But I was sure thàt I had got the energy and power to work and prove my worth and hability. AND I DID IT. 6 month of intense preparation of Bogotá and I won my first WE competition out of 18 riders.Because Pedro Torres was for a long time the „man“ of the working equitation in the world, I wanted to learn from him and after that 1st competition I went to him to search knowledge from the Man that has been the best for years. And I’m glad that I did. It was a very good decision; nearly every week I was there with Bogotá to train. Because of this, in my 1st year I was national Champion and champion of the Portugal Cup with two hands ( Bogotá was 6) , and the next year I was National champion, also became champion of Portugal CUP „one hand“ and Bronze individual, and Gold as team in the European Cup in Italy, (Bogotá was 7). It was a fantastic year for me.
After that I did enter the „big shark tank“ in Portugal, to the Master class in Portugal with piaffe passage transitions etc .Bogotá was then 8 years old and the other horses were 14 till 16 years old. It was a big challenge. It was a great year and I became Vice-champion of Portugal behind my good friend and world champion Bruno Pica and did became champion of Portugal Cup , and the cherry on top of this cake was the world Cup in Austria where I won the Bronze individual and Gold as team. In between I did some dressage competitions but my passion and focus was on WE.
During that time with Bogotá I worked at Pero Viegas Tourism ( owners of Bogotá), receiving clients from all over the world to ride dressage and working equitation in the school master horses. For 2.5 years I took a big jump in my life. I made my company in Germany. I felt in Portugal things where a little slow to my nerves. I like action and challenges, I wanted more.I rented a big place and opened my training center while I was also driving to give courses in Dressage and WE.
After I came, I was invited to train the Denmark team for the European of WE. A great team with great people, and who made a very successfull 4th place as team staying between France 3rd and Suiss 5th. It was their debuts in international WE. They made me very happy and pleased with their performance.
At the moment I do mostly travel around central Europe teaching riders and horses. And last, I got invited to train Germany.A big honour for me.
What does horse riding means to you.???
Everything, I would say. I don’t know what I would do besides this job. It is magical to seat on a animal and with our hands and feet make all the training. To see a horse’s development, to have this partnership/ communication, it feels great. It is fascinating.
Which was your first horse….?
I got my first horse at age of 12. It was an old jumping mare, and was mostly for trail rides. For learning, I was riding a lot of horses in the school where I was leaning since I was 7 years old.
What are the qualities a horse must have.?
To me a horse should be willing to work , more then colour or size etc .Some horses because of body configuration or genetics, don’t want to and refuse to work or give their best. Well, we must find a good solution for such situations and train then. But when I can find a horse that gives me the feeling he will try and give it all no matter what, this is the feeling I like and search and find. And on that most of the Lusitanos are fantastic in that way.
What is, in your opinion, the best skill to become a good rider?
A good heart.
It is extremely important the will and desire to understand a horse instead of just forcing things out like it’s a coffee machine or a computer. Not all horses can learn at the same pace, and not all horses can do the same as other horses can do, and so on. Each one is unique, with unique specificity. I say often “ we should put ourselves in the skin of the horse“.
I deeply believe that we must be tolerant, patient, when the horse does not know. Learning is a process and needs it’s time. The very same happens with the rider, in the case teacher and student.
What is your philosophy as a trainer.?
My philosophy as trainer of a team is the same as of a trainer of many, many nice friends I have made already in Germany, Austria, Holland etc. I do FULLY believe a trainer is a helper/ mentor, and for that I must encourage and bring out the best moments of the rider and the horse, and NOT just point out the mistakesHow good does it feel to have a compliment ( for horse and rider)? It’s so much more constructive, all lesson, all day flows so much easier, we all learn,etc .
Why we should stop focusing on the Negative (youTube) https://youtu.be/grxstj2cP2A
How you see your position as team trainer?
It’s a great honour to be the trainer of such a team with such good riders. I got here after Mr Manolo, who did a very good work before me.Two years after upon my arrival we are going to the World Cup. It is a huge responsibility on my shoulders for several reasons. I am only 34 years old, I come following a very good result in the last European championship and, most importantly, I have a very high respect for the level of the other countries. All countries are getting better and better, investing in training, spending money in good and experienced horses etc. I wish luck to all. In the end, it is the „world of Working Equitation“ that is the big winner.
Can you introduce your team’s riders ?
I start with name of horses because the horse is the secret key.
ARAMIS / Gernot Weber
A great German horse, fully trained and well prepared. Gernot as well. Together they make a strong match. 2017 they made an fantastic job. I have very high hope for them.
Paint horse, very experienced and well teached, reaching his last season, I guess. If Macchiato is in Top performance/healthy/fitness, both can be a good option as well. They know each other like brothers.
DILUVIO is a Lusitano and is on his 1st year in masterclass, he is getting better month by month but there is missing „mileage“ of experience because of his age. Birte has much knowledge but is as well in the first year in master class, and has been showing a great dedication and serious work. Both are a good team and, in a short future, they will be solid like a rock
LARIUS is a German horse, all his life did 3 day events, and in nearly one year he jumped, with Anne, straight into Master class. He is a very sporty horse, well trained and reliable. Anne is very motivated, hard-working and did reach super results in a very short time. Both are a very nice team with good stability in their performances.
BENJAMIM da CARICEIRA/Mihai Maldea
BENJAMIM is a Lusitano, a very fine and energetic Lusitano with a nice level but „green“, inexperienced. He also is in his first year in master class. Mihai is an old WE rider, quite experienced, a good professional rider and always presents himself and horse with good class and fine riding, but in this particular case, only time can tell how much Benjamin can collaborate, but we will find out in the near future.
STARLIGHT SMART MIMI (MIMI)/Christian Laukemper
Mimi is a quarter horse mare. In the last few months her improvement was great due the good horse she is and the teaming up with Christian, but her body type – as a quarter horse – does not help in the dressage and the dressage trail. But in speed she is a rocket. Christian has been the last months showing very strong dedication to this training and is learning a lot and getting better. They both know eachother very well.
Kiro is a PRE , was a member of the team in the last European, is very well trained and correct, in my opinion is missing some „size“ but he is very correct when he is not having funny and happy moments. Mirjam is a very good professional and does take great care of Kiro and brings out his best capacities. Together they are a strong card.
Violino is a good Lusitano horse and a good mover, also well trained, needs a bit more routine, more competitions. Brahim is riding/training him very well, being very nice, very good to his horse. Brahim is one of the member with less competitions, but very serious about learning more and more. I very satisfied with his achievements.
Orlando is a German horse, to me is a great horse , no one can deny his talents and his natural class in movements . Is getting very experienced and performing greatly . Thomas is was member in last european cup and is doing a great job with his Orlando. He did in the past a fantastic work as well and I believe that now he is even better. Both are superbe, they need eachother. They are „married“ well together. A very competitive duo. Thomas is our cowtrainer and Capitan of the team because of his way of being and his long time experience.
HOSCO LA LUZ/Hannah Paloma
Hosco is a black PRE stallion, greatly trained to high level dressage. Hosco is a happy surprise to us and to WE. He won last October in Holland, conquering the Holland Championship with great scores. Hannah is a very talented young rider with much class and fine riding. After shows and dressage , she now started in WE. Together they can become a strong duo.
Santana is also a Paint mare, started quite green , but has very good qualities. Mitja was a member of the team in the last European and World Cup and his experience made it possible to change Santana a lot the last 6 months. Together they will became very strong. I’m very positive about that.
How do you train the team and what is most important for you?
The most important for me is not only the team but the WED group. As far as I know, and I know and watch, WED has the best group in Europe. Best in what way, you all might ask. We are now 11 riders working for that World Cup. First of all – We are all friends, we have no internal fights or private issues, we all know our roles on this „adventure“, WED is fully supportive of the riders and, for me, we all have worked and travelled to teach and expand WE to more and more riders. WED had 20 riders in Master Class last year, which is significant.
Concerning the training, I do give them challenges every time and make them all coming out of their comfort zone.
How far will we go? I don’t know, but I want them to move forward and strongly and at a solid pace.
What is your opinion about the quality of the German WE riders?
I like it very much and have a high opinion of the German WE riders. I find all the riders are very enthusiastic and dedicated. Less than half in our group are professional riders; the bigger part of them have other jobs, which makes me very happy that in spite of that fact they have such high level and capacities. I am also very pleased with the horses. We have a mix of breeds. Each of them with their speciality. They where already in good shape when I arrived. Now I am trying to give them „field“ experience. I was literaly in the arena for many years.
I believe that is the bigger contribution I can give them.
We all have a great respect for eachother’s skills and it’s a great team work.
What is Nuno doing when he is not on horses?
Well , ahahah. I’m around horses any way. If not working, thinking about work 😁😁😁. I love my job. I love teaching people, I easily make friends, I’m very happy I did meet so many new friends in the centre of Europe. Every day I feel blessed with me work, my job.
What are your plans for the near future?
I want to keep the quality and level of work I have had . I don’t want anything else as I have enough challenges for now. I’m afraid to get more and fail myself and my clients. And for that reason I don’t want to add any more things. My last project is the Video-trainings project that I have with some friends, and it’s going great. The feedback is fantastic.