Equador, Joao Torrao's Portuguese Olympic team ride in Tokyo, has passed away on 2 May 2022. The Lusitano stallion did not survive an emergency surgery following a cervical injury.
Equador was a 13-year old Lusitano licensed stallion by Quo Vadis out of Que Ha (by Hostil). He was bred by Coudelaria Monte Velho.
Equador became the flagship stallion of brood farm and equo-resort Monte Velho in Arraiolos, Portugal, putting the stable on the international map.
Rider Joao Torrão, who studied Equine science in Portugal and did a summer internship at Monte Velho, was hired as their full-time rider and got matched with Equador in 2014.
The pair made its first start in the 6-year old national young horse classes at the CDI Vilamoura in 2015, and moved on to the CDI Biarritz a few months later. In 2017 they moved up to small tour level.
In January 2019 the Belgian-Polish Marc Lebbe and Katarzyna Gontarska became co-owners of the horse.
Equador made his international Grand Prix debut at the CDI Cascais in March 2019 and continued to gain experience at Portuguese CDI's in Abrantes and Alter do Chao.
In order to unlock the stallion's full potential, Carl Hester was contacted to train the young pair. This led to the combination's greatest success in the summer of 2019 at the CDI's in Hartpury and Hickstead.
At the CDI Hartpury they posted 71.196% in the Grand Prix and at the CDIO Hickstead they achieved a whopping 73.522% in the Grand Prix and a 75.787% in the Special, leading Team Portugal to a first-ever, historic victory in the FEI Nations' Cup.
The big scores earned at British CDI's raised high hopes and expectations for the 2019 European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, but the pair was not able to reach that same level again and ended up 38th in the Grand Prix with 68.991%.
In the 2020 corona year, Torrao and Equador only competed in Portugal and got whopping scoring at the local CDI's in Cascais, Beloura and Alter do Chao (74.978%, 77.000%, and 77.348% in the Grand Prix tests!!). They finished the year with the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix champion's title.
In 2021 they vied for a Portuguese Olympic team spot by campaigning in Compiegne and Rotterdam, where they got 73.174% and 70.239% and were nominated on the team.
The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo turned out to be the pair's last international show. They were 29th in the Grand Prix (70.186%) and 23rd in the Special (68.298%). They hadn't shown since then.
The life of the 13-year old licensed stallion tragically came to an end on 2 May 2022.
"With deep sadness and broken hearts, we inform that our beloved Olympic hero Equador MVL has passed away," co-owner Diogo Lima Mayer posted on social media yesterday. "Following a cervical injury, Equador had an emergency surgery undertaken by one of the world’s leading surgeons in France, but despite all the efforts, he hasn’t survived the post-surgery."
Diogo continued, "Equador has left no one indifferent with whom he crossed paths, impressing with his adorable character, golden heart and fighting spirit. In this difficult moment for all of us, we would like to address Equador’s longtime best friend, João Torrão. Together they have developed a partnership difficult to express in words. They have written history for Portugal and the Lusitano breed, breaking records and opening new horizons for our country in dressage. Their history has inspired us and the whole equestrian community worldwide."
Photos © Astrid Appels
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