Pros’ advice – Pedro Veniss

29 April 2020

In these uncertain times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Studforlife offers you a tour of the different methods and techniques riders are using to keep their horses in shape.

For this 7th interview, meet Pedro Veniss. The Brazilian rider and Pan-American Games team gold winner, and winner of the Geneva Grand Prix, explains his situation, with the retirement of his good mount, For Felicia. He talks about the impact of the Olympic Games postponement on Quabri de l’Isle’s planning, and of course his new function within the FEI, as well as the importance of Philippe Guerdat.

Based in Barcelona, at the Polo Club facilities, Pedro Veniss can continue riding his horses. He has 14 horses in work, and he shares them with his stable rider. However, there are no jumps, so the Brazilian focuses on working on the flat. "In the beginning, as we didn't know when the competitions would resume, so we kept the horses in shape. Now we can see that it will take longer, so my main horses are doing lighter work, and I’m able to focus on dressage with the youngsters. I'm lucky enough to love working the horses on the flat. Having been to the Neco Pessoa school, dressage has always been essential to me. It has also instilled in me the importance of working on a loose rein, which I also enjoy doing more during this period."

Pedro Veniss and Quabri de l'Isle on their victory in the 2016 Geneva CHI Grand Prix

Speaking of his star mounts, we're obviously talking about Quabri de l'Isle (Kannan). He took to the road in Belgium for two months to devote himself to competition. Pedro Veniss has already seen a few videos of Quabri’s offspring and he himself owns one, which is 2 years old: "His offspring are still young, but many of them have the Quabri type and have the same chestnut coat with high white stockings. I always get a lot of pleasure out of receiving photos and videos of his foals."

Among his star mounts is also his old faithful, For Felicila (For Pleasure x Espri), who, at the age of 15, is now going to devote herself to breeding. "She’s a mare who has given me a lot. She joined my stables as a speed horse and has proven to be a real Grand Prix mare. She has helped me win many events, including the Nations Cup at Hickstead in 2017. I’m so happy to know that she’s going to have a foal by Quabri. It will be really special for me to ride this foal. I'm sure she's going to be a great mom."

Pedro Veniss and For Felicila at the Morocco Royal Tour in 2019

Quabri de l'Isle is focusing on breeding, a situation made possible by this forced break. But the 16-year-old stallion will then resume his competition training. And even though the Olympic Games have been postponed by one year, they still remain his main objective: "Quabri will obviously be one year older, but he has always been in excellent health. Next Spring, he’ll tell us how he’s feeling. I'm very attentive."

Pedro Veniss and Quabri de l’Isle in 2015 in Geneva

However, Pedro Veniss will also be able to count on a new recruit. Lord Pezi Junior (Lord Pezi x Quattro 7), who joined his stables a few months ago. He has a lot of potential (editor's note: the pair came second in the Vejer CSI3* Grand Prix in March and third in the Vejer CSI2* in February). "The Olympics this year would have come too early for him, but next year he might be ready," says his rider delightedly.

At the moment, the Brazilian rider is missing the competitions a lot: "We professional riders love the adrenaline rush we get from competing. I don't think I've ever spent more than 4 weeks without a competition. But we have to look at the positive aspects; I can spend more time with my children, even though being contained in an apartment in the center of Barcelona is not always easy to manage. I also think that the resumption of competitions will be difficult for them. They’ve had their daddy at home every day, and then he’ll go back to competing every weekend. Of the positive aspects, there’s also the availability I have to get to the bottom of things in my dressage work."

The Brazilian rider's morale is also being kept high thanks to Philippe Guerdat, coach of the Brazilian team: "He's an exceptional coach: even during this period without competitions, he's just as important. He knows how to motivate us and maintain a real team spirit. He has made a Whatsapp group where we share our exercises, and also our best course memories via videos. In addition, every week he organizes a video conference for the riders. He's really incredible, he thinks of everything. He knows how to help us keep our spirits up. We can talk about anything with him, he keeps in touch with us, it's great. I'm very grateful to have him as a Chef d’équipe."

Pedro Veniss and his teammates at the Nations Cup in Rabat under Philippe Guerdat’s leadership  

Since the beginning of the month, Pedro Veniss also has new responsibilities. He has been appointed to the FEI as the riders' representative: "This break has come at a good time, as I have more time to devote to this task. We have a lot of meetings, especially concerning Covid-19-related issues. We’re trying to find the best solutions for everyone. I speak with Steve Guerdat and Kevin Staut a lot, who, in addition to being great riders, are real horsemen. I also talk regularly with the IJRC. I try to speak with many riders, such as Grégory Wathelet for example, in order to have the best possible proposals to submit to the FEI. It’s true that now, it’s mainly the FEI calendar that is being discussed. The organizers would like to postpone their events until Autumn. For the riders, it would be ideal if there were several competitions on the same weekend, but it’s quite understandable that organizers who have had the same dates for many years don’t want to take any risks. We’re trying to find the best solutions for everyone."

Pedro Veniss and Quabri de l'Isle on their way to victory in the 2016 CHI Geneva Grand Prix