BY JESS CLAWSON
Daniel Bedoya was taught to respect and value horses from the start. Growing up in La Paz, Bolivia, his father, Daniel Bedoya Sr., won seven national jumper championships in Bolivia. But even more than his success in the show ring, Bedoya Sr emphasized that anyone who wants to ride needs to bring their best to the horses at all times.
When Daniel describes his childhood in La Paz, he talks about how his father’s passion for riding motivated him to get up at 5am in order to ride before his job working in construction. He would even rush to the barn during lunch to get a ride in.
Bedoya Sr demanded the same of his children if they chose to ride. “My sister was very talented,” Daniel says, “but just didn’t want it as much.” Bedoya Sr. told his son that if he wanted to ride, it was all or nothing. He had to take it seriously, to forego nights out with his friends if he wanted to jump the next day, to show up every single day to work on his sport.
That work paid off.
The family moved to Austin, Texas when Daniel was a young man. Bedoya Sr. set up a training facility there, which he continues to run full time at age 74. “He rides four horses a day. He teaches lessons. He gets on the tractor himself to drag the arena,” Daniel says with clear admiration.
Daniel continued in the family tradition and set off to Magnolia, Texas, where he and his wife Lindsay run Bedoya Training Stables. Lindsay is critical to the operation. She travels with him to help in the big classes when she can or stays home with their daughter to keep the horses and students in work. “It’s special to me that we’re doing this as a family,” he says.
At Bedoya Training Stables, Daniel focuses on building foundations of trust and warmth with his horses and students. “It has to be fun,” he says. “If it’s not fun then why do it?” He treats his horses with respect and empathy, and takes the time to really make sure he understands the specific needs of each one. “One of the challenges of the trainer is to find what makes a horse want to perform better,” he says. “Try to make it fun for the horses. If you make the job a little easier, make it fun, and find what makes every horse want to do their job—you’ll have more success.”
Daniel carries the same approach with his students. He likes people, and wants to get to know them. He brings the best of Bolivian riding culture to Texas: “Everyone has to have fun. In Bolivia, riding is a very social thing–everyone goes to ride and then they hang out with their friends, go do other things together.”
In fact, when Daniel and his horse Quattro represented Bolivia at the World Equestrian Games at Tryon in 2018–the first time a Bolivian represented the country on the world stage–his Texan fans cheered him vigorously in the main arena. The Great Southwest Equestrian Center even stopped the horse show to broadcast his rides on the big screens so that his home crowd could watch and cheer for their friend.
Riding at WEG belt beyond Daniel’s wildest dreams even two years prior, and he counts carrying the Bolivian flag as his proudest equestrian achievement. He credits his horse Quattro for the opportunity.
“I remember the day of the first class I was riding. My horse was almost ready in the cross ties, and I gave him a big hug. I wanted to thank him somehow. It was an unbelievable moment for me. Even before going in the ring, I got teary eyed. I could not believe I was there. My family came from Bolivia to watch. It was amazing.”
Quattro is the horse of a lifetime for Daniel. He bought the 18hh gelding as a five-year-old resale project. “He turned out to be harder to train in the beginning than I expected,” Daniel recounts cheerfully. He took the “shy, gentle giant” to his first horse show as a youngster, having no idea this would be the horse to completely change his career.
“I may get to the point where I ride better horses than him, who win more than he wins, but none will have the impact he has had on my career. He changed my life.” For Daniel, there will never be another Quattro. The successes the pair have already achieved have opened doors for Daniel. Competing at WEG, opportunities to ride more elite horses, and attracting quality clients to his program have all come about thanks to Quattro’s eagerness to try.
Daniel also thinks fondly back to his now eight-year-old daughter’s early childhood. He would sit her in front of him on the huge horse’s back and walk and trot around the ring, introducing his daughter to horses and sharing quiet moments with her.
“My daughter is my biggest fan,” he says. While she hasn’t caught the riding bug, she joins the Texas community in cheering for her father’s victories. “Sometimes she cries if Quattro and I don’t win,” he chuckles.
Pin Oak has been a large part of Daniel’s career success. There he Quattro have claimed many victories, including rising to the top of the leaderboard in the 2018 Antares Sellier Leading Grand Prix Rider. He loves the show for its combination of collegial environment and prestige.
Pin Oak is special to Daniel because of the charitable giving aspect. He recounts a charity equitation class to benefit a fellow professional who was having medical troubles a few years ago. “It wasn’t part of Pin Oak but they helped us with it, and now they’ve made it part of their show,” he says with pride.
Daniel hopes that Pin Oak continues to attract more riders from Mexico and surrounding states. “It’s a beautiful horse show,” he says. “Everybody comes to play. Everyone gets ready for Pin Oak.”
Daniel’s buoyant spirit and passion for the horses make him a popular fixture of the Texas riding scene. He and Quattro have a bright future ahead of them.
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
Read More from This Author »