December 2014 Carmen Elisa Franco

December’s Featured Rider
Carmen Elisa Franco
Carmen Elisa Franco
Born in Cali, Valle del Cauca, Columbia but raised in Bogota, Carmen now calls Palm Beach Gardens, Florida home. The first time she rode she cried the entire time and the riding school that she started at was mainly for jumpers.  Carmen knew that it wasn’t for her, but once the dressage lessons opened she knew she had found her spot. Her father bought her a thoroughbred mare that they named Tuscia.
Initially Carmen studied and graduated with a degree in architecture but didn’t enjoy it, so she traveled to Germany and got her degree as a Bereiterin, and credits Marco Bernal because he “showed her the way to Germany” and the late Gerd Reitbrock as 2 of the most influential people in her riding.
She and her Hanoverian mare China Town have twice won the National Championship in Columbia, the worldwide winner of the Test A – FEI World Dressage Challenge, and earned a team Gold and individual Silver of the Bolivian games. Carmen has a love for the Lusitanos, one especially, Vinho dos Pinhais and was proud that they got to perform as a member of the Colombian Team that participated in the Nations Cup 2013 in Wellington, and looks forward a great future with the 3 Lusitanos she is working with from Haras dos Cavaleiros. She and Dutch Warmblood stallion Top Gun, owned by Mary Anne McPhail, won at every level from second to Prix St. Georges competed at Inter1 and are now schooling Grand Prix movements. While in Columbia, Carmen was a coach, in addition to serving as a Technical Delegate and judge.
Carmen is very busy and spends a lot of time driving to train at several barns. One of her biggest supporters is Anita Crouse from Split Pine Farm, and has been a client for the past 10 years. However, she is very proud of former student Lauren Friedland, now living in Connecticut and attending Johnson & Wales, who Carmen believes is a natural talent and will be a successful horsewoman.  Carmen also believes that the few lessons she had with Richard White has helped her make the horses she trains “happy athletes”.
Carmen’s biggest strengths are her strong personality and discipline, and states her father and her sister Rosina are her biggest fans. If given the opportunity, Carmen would love to take Isabell Werth to dinner at ‘La Pergola’, the restaurant owned by her father.  She is a dark chocolate purest and appreciates a good Margarita, she enjoys puzzles and would like to be able to read minds.

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