Magnificent Mia—A Q&A with Up-And-Coming Jumper Mia Albelo
She’s just barely a teenager, but she is taking the jumper ring by storm. At 13, Mia Albelo of Coral Gables, FL, has more top level wins under her belt than most—just in 2018, she was one of the youngest, most successful U.S. riders at the 2018 FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC); took her first CSI2* win in the 2018 Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach; and debuted in the Medium Junior Jumpers. In between her busy show schedule, we got the chance to chat with the talented teen on how she got started and what the future holds for the emerging athlete.
Equine Journal: How did you get started riding?
Mia Albelo: My uncle is a team roper, and when I was younger, he would take me to his farm and let me ride his horses. I loved being with the horses, but we had to find a closer farm for me to ride at. My mom asked a few friends if they knew of barns close by and we were sent to Heavenly Acres in Miami, FL, which now is known as Elysian Stables, where I still ride at today with my first trainer, Vivianne Marzullo who works alongside Margie Engle.
EJ: Tell us a little about the horses you are currently competing.
MA: I have two horses, Cassie and Revel. Cassie, whose show name is Cassandra Dreams is a grey, 13-year-old Holsteiner mare. We have been competing together since February of 2017, after getting her for my birthday. She is super sassy and always goes into the ring wanting to win. When she hears the buzzer, she gets riled up and super excited to go. She has the funniest personality and loves bananas—including the peel—more than anything!
She was imported from Argentina when she was younger, where she used to compete in the 1.45m. Together we have gone from the Low Children’s Jumpers (1m) to the Low Junior Jumpers (1.25m). We are hoping to move up to the 1.35m soon. Some of our biggest accomplishments include winning 2017 Horse of the Year in the High Children’s Division [for Zone 4], winning the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach CSI2*; being Zone 3 and 4 Individual Gold Medalists for the High Children’s and Low Juniors in 2017 and 2018, respectively; going undefeated in Tryon [during summer 2018]; and taking team silver at the 2018 .
Revel, whose show name is Larocque de Revel, is a bay, eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding. He was imported in January of 2018 from France, and we have been competing together since May of 2018, after I got him for my birthday. He thinks he’s a big puppy and always tries to cuddle and play, especially with his jolly ball!
We have gone from the High Children’s Jumpers (1.10m) to the Medium Junior Jumpers (1.35m) and the 3’6″ hunter derbies. Some of our biggest accomplishments so far are wins in the Low Juniors and Medium Juniors.
EJ: You started out doing mostly hunters, what made you want to switch to the jumper ring?
MA: I’ve always wanted to do the jumpers, but my trainer and I believed that to be successful in the jumpers, you must first be successful in the hunters. The hunters gave me a solid riding foundation to reach my aspirations in the jumper ring.
EJ: Who has made the most impact on your riding and how far you’ve come at such a young age?
MA: I believe that everybody has impacted me one way or another, but my first small pony, Pashmina, has probably made the biggest impact on my riding career. She taught me what it was like to do amazing one day and not too good another, but that no matter what, I will always love my horse and we are always a team.
EJ: What top riders do you look up to?
MA: My biggest riding idol is Margie Engle because not only is she one of the best riders in the world, but she is also my trainer. She has the best qualities of an athlete—she is fierce, confident, hard working, and has an unwavering desire to succeed, yet she is extremely humble. I also look up to Lucy Davis and Lillie Keenan because they prove that you can have both Grand Prix and Ivy League dreams and make them a reality.
EJ: Your barn calls you “the flying flea.” How did that nickname come about?
MA: My grandmother nicknamed me that in Spanish—“pulga voladora,” which directly translates to “flying flea.” I got that nickname because I am petite and I go fast in the jumper ring, almost as if I were flying. Now my barn friends and the rest of my family have started calling me that too.
EJ: What has been your favorite moment in your riding career so far and why?
MA: My favorite moment in my riding career was winning Longines Miami Beach 2018. I live in Miami, and that day around 50 members of my family and many of my friends from school and the barn had come to watch me, and winning in front of all them just felt so amazing. Coming out of that ring and hearing all my friends and family cheering for me just made me feel so special and happy.
EJ: What was it like riding as the anchor on a team at NAYC and helping secure the silver medal?
MA: I loved being a part of a team at NAYC; it was a really cool experience that taught me so much. It taught me what it was like to compete with a team and how to go in last to secure a podium finish. I also loved meeting other team members and making many new friends!
EJ: What do you hope the future holds? What are your goals?
MA: My short-term goals are to be successful in the Medium Junior Jumpers and to move up to the High Junior Jumpers by the end of 2019. My long-term goals are to become a professional and be a Grand Prix rider. I hope to go to the Olympics and the World Equestrian Games, representing the United States of America.