José Fumero the rider from Tenerife, ambassador of the automobile brand Suzuki, recovers from a shoulder operation whilst the country stands self-isolated due to the COVID crisis. Whilst his staying in Spain, we wanted to take this moment to ask him how he is living this complicated situation.
Jose first of all, how is your shoulder recovery?
Fairly good, the recovery has flown by. The first days I didn’t feel too well, my arm was completely immobilised so I could barely move. But as for now, I’m living a normal life again. I use FaceTime with a physiotherapist from Madrid to keep up with my recovery, and this helps me feel better and stronger. I’ve even started to ride.
Things that happen, everything has happened at the same time. A fall, self-isolation… Tell us how you have been organizing your time these days. Maybe this situation has benefited you so you could completely recover.
It’s true, everything came together. On one hand I’m glad that if the fall had to happen, it was when there are no competitions ahead and I haven’t had to force myself to be back on time.
On the other hand, it’s been a burden. On the same day I left the hospital after the operation, the competition was cancelled, and I didn’t have my groom. I couldn’t drive to get back to Belgium, I couldn’t ride or even take care of their basic needs.
In the end we managed to find a solution to most of our problems, and here we are, in Montenmedio. In full honesty, we are more than okay, in these magnificent facilities practically just for us. We did have to distribute 9 of our 11 horses that we had during the tour, now we have 4 of which Maria and I are in charge of. Shortly we will have to regroup 3 more.
I imagine you have to do some rehabilitation, how are you managing this, when the medical consultations are stopped due to the situation.
Thanks to a good friend, Pedro Mateos, who suffered from a clavicle injury not too long ago. He put me in contact with his doctor, who also sent me the contact of the shoulder specialist physiotherapist. With her I’m completing the rehabilitation the best as we can through Facetime. I don’t have all of the necessary tools that you would have in a gym, but we manage.
Do you have any idea if you’ll be going back to Belgium or if you have plans on staying in Spain until the competition schedule reopens?
It seems like, for now, the competition calendar will remain inactive for a few months, and I think that even more… So, for now we are pleased to be here in Montenmedio. We are so thankful for how Armando and Teresa are treating us here, who have opened their arms to us. Although our life is already built in Belgium, so our intention is to go back as soon as its safe.
Are there other people that have had to stay after the Sunshine Tour?
It’s a privilege to be able to stay in Dehesa de Montenmedio, it was completely impossible that this situation could have caught us in a better place. The same as us, various riders have had to stay here. I think there must be around 50 horses that have had to stay. Amongst the riders there’s Carolina Aresu, Diana Marsa, David Artos…
What type of training are you doing with the horses?
We try to maintain them in the best shape as possible, so that when competitions begin again, we are fully ready. Many lead walks, lunging and riding but being very careful, without unnecessary risks.
Tell us how are you enjoying your time in Belgium, what have you benefited from it and are there any differences with your past carrier in Spain.
I’m so pleased of moving up to Belgium. It’s something that I always had in mind but never had the guts to try. Last year, thanks to my sponsor Suzuki, the possibility of moving to Belgium arose and I grabbed it.
The truth is that having such a young stable, last year, after selling a few horses, I didn’t have the opportunity to compete at as many competitions. But it’s true that being installed in the centre of Europe. There are so many more possibilities compared to living in Spain.
There is a lot of trade, so when we sell horses or buy them, you have a wide range of options to choose from.
As an example, last year I participated again in Lanaken with a 5 year-old, and what would normally take us 2 days of travel, last year we went back home every day and I could still ride the horses that weren’t competing. It’s incredible the amount of competitions you have in less than 2 hours drive. It’s an advantage being situated in the centre.
In the peninsula, we have to great riders, how does someone from the Canary Islands achieve this level? The clubs conditions there aren’t as good, the horse level and competition level isn’t as competitive, how do you get to be a professional rider having this handicap amongst the other Spanish riders?
The truth is that we have a very good Canarian representation, with Ismael García Roque the winner of the Spanish Adult Championship last year. A pride for all canaries, because as you say, it is not easy to make the leap from the Canary Islands to the peninsula. There, the level of competition is very low, the competitions during the year which you can count with one hand and the number of riders in large events are usually very small.
In my particular case, when I was younger, I was lucky enough to meet a very good group of riders of the same age, and we decided to try to compete in the Spanish Championship that was formerly held in summer in Montenmedio during the Moon Route. The team was made up of Fernando Jerez, Rocío Arencibia and me. Neither had ever competed off the island, nor did we have any experience in this type of competition with so many people. We were only 3, since we were missing a fourth rider, but we still won the team gold medal in the Alevin category.
Since then my family did everything possible so that I could continue training and we moved 2 horses to Seville with Aurelio Gutiérrez and thus be able to compete more frequently. Then, at the age of 15, we made the decision to come live to Madrid.
So yes, it is difficult to become a professional rider with that handicap, you have to make many uneasy decisions, but it’s possible.
What is the competition plan in the islands like? Do you move from one to another? Is there a following and competitions in all of them?
When I competed, the competitions were only held in Tenerife and las Palmas. I just competed against riders from those two islands. To my understanding this is still the same.
This year you brought some young horses to the Sunshine Tour, do you think that this pause could affect their performance?
Indeed, during the tour we had a total of 7 young horses. This situation makes me worry more about the older horses. The young ones already developed a considerable amount of experience, and next year they will keep being young horses. It’s true that they may not complete everything that we had planned for them, but they were going to have a break either way when the tour finished.
We know that you are currently installed in the truck, it mustn’t be easy…
We had a house rented during the tour, and then we rented another house for the following weeks in Conil. But with all the limitations that were being set, as well as the police controls we had to go through everyday… the best solution was to move into the van therefore we didn’t have to move from the facilities. The truth is that we are handling is very well, in the end we spend most of our time in the stables and we only go to the van to eat and to sleep.
We always see you with a smile on your face, but… what is José really like?
I always try to be very positive and I don’t usually have a bad temper. But it can sometimes come out… even though I do manage to control it quick enough haha.
Not too long ago we learnt you had a degree in Law, even though you don’t follow this career, would you say it has given you any knowledge or benefited you in your career as a professional rider?
I always knew that I never would never practice law, but I do consider that the law degree has provided me with a lot of knowledge and discipline in my day to day. I learnt various things during my studies, but it also helped me to realise how much I liked riding, and that this was the path I wanted to follow. Unfortunately, the reality is that if you dedicate yourself to a sport like ours, you have to have a plan B that doesn’t have anything to do with plan A. I hope I never have to use it, but I’m glad I have it.
This year we have seen Corelli de Mies competing in Montenmedio, which was one of your star products, have you known about him and have you been following his career?
Corelli de Mies is the best horse I’ve ever had. From his early stages he stood out. Last year I decided to sell him to Sergio and Jan Tops, who then went on to Athina Onassis. I followed his beginnings. With Sergio he seemed to go very well, with no points in many competitions. Subsequently, with Athina I saw them ride some good rounds, such as the Global in London in the 140 leg. After this I thinks it’s when they decided to castrate him and has then been passed on to several riders in Jan’s stable. Which makes it difficult to follow his progress…
Any future stars in the Jose Fumero stables?
Now we have a very good stable. This year many of our Young horses first competed in the Sunshine Tour. For 5-year-olds I have “Double R” “Coltaire” and “Blue Cass de Walyro”. The for the 6-year-olds “Esto de Viscourt”, “Electro des Forets” and “Jump Off”. If I had to choose any of them, I’d say “Blue Cass” and “Jump Off” could be my favourite. Having said that I’m very pleased with every single one of them. With young horses it’s hard to say, but I think all of them have the potential to become future stars.
How do you think this sanitary crisis will affect the future of our sport?
Without a doubt it’s going to cost us go back to normality. As of now the trade is stopped. We don’t know how the competitions and in what way they will come back, what will happen to the spectators? Will the competitions manage to find sponsors?
I think that the ones who may be more affected by this crisis are the stables with a very elevated number of horses, and most of my horses are young horses, so I hope they won’t lose as much when they comeback.
Source: Press release from Oxersport
Photos: © Oxersport