Rider Profile :: Bree and Agustin “Chicho” Rosales
Contributed by Around the Water Trough
From worlds apart, Bree and Agustin “Chicho” Rosales found each other at a farm in Wellington, FL! They came into the world of horses in different ways, but after more than 10 years of marriage they have found a way to mix business and pleasure while managing Caliburn Farm in Virginia. Bree grew up in Michigan and her love of horses started young, “my parents had a 10-acre farm where my Mom kept her 2 thoroughbreds. As kids, my sister, Adrienne, and I would ride our bikes from our house down the road to feed the horses and do barn chores.” Bree got her first pony when she was 6 and began competing in the pony hunter divisions. Soon she got her first horse, Serengeti, or ‘Tommy,’ a gently restarted OTTB and began doing the jumpers, “I competed ‘Tommy’ in the Children's Jumpers and later got another horse that moved me up to the Junior Jumpers. While on a budget, we were able to attend some bigger shows in the Midwest like Kentucky, Chagrin Falls, Traders Point during the summer season.”
Once Bree graduated high school, she headed to Wellington, FL, and found a job grooming. On her days off, Bree would help at Robin Sweely’s Acorn Hill Farm in Grand Prix Village. “At the end of the season I went to work for Robin full time caring for 3 of her top jumper stallions. That was my first introduction to the top of the sport where I got experience grooming at the Grand Prix and FEI levels. It was the best decision I could have made, I learned so much in that year and met my husband during that time!”
Now to Chicho’s path from Argentina to Wellington, which was quite a different introduction to the sport! While he had a basic understanding of horses and showjumping from watching his brothers ride, Chicho didn't start riding until he was 19. He was enrolled at University in Argentina studying to become an architect when lifelong family friend, Pato Muente, offered him a job in the U.S. for 3 months. Pato, also from Argentina, was starting his own horse training business in the States and needed help for the season in Wellington. Chicho accepted the opportunity and started grooming in the fall of 2002. With no experience (and no idea what he was getting into!), “I quickly fell in love with the job, the horses and the lifestyle. I enjoyed the work so much, I decided to stay. Pato taught me everything - how to clean a stall, pick out a hoof, tack up, body clip, everything I needed to know to be a good groom.” At the end of each day, Pato would put Chicho on his horses and teach him how to ride. Eventually Chicho got to show some of the horses and Pato gave him more opportunities as he continued to improve.
Chicho and Bree started dating in December of 2004 while they were both living and working in Wellington. In 2006 Pato offered Bree a job and it was a match made in heaven for the trio. “It turned out better than we could have ever expected. We were a great team and just had the best time. We got to care for some amazing horses at cool shows and we just loved being a part of their and Pato's success. Pato gave us so many opportunities, he always let us ride and made it so we had horses to jump and compete.” In 2009, Chicho and Bree got married and the following year moved with Pato and his business to his wife's family farm in Germany. The couple stayed for 2 years before making the difficult decision to move back to the US.
Throughout the years, Pato had become a great mentor to Bree and Chicho. They also began training with Andre Thieme, a German Showjumper, four years ago out of Ocala, FL. Thieme comes over each year to compete for about 5-6 weeks for the season, “he has a wealth of knowledge and is just crazy talented, it’s amazing to just watch and learn from him,” says Bree. The three have become good friends and Chicho has spent time training with him in Germany.
Upon making the decision to head stateside, they contacted Pato’s longtime friend and sponsor, Gail Dady. Gail was the owner of many of the horses Bree and Chicho cared for throughout the years. Dady owned Caliburn Farm in Virginia and offered jobs to Bree and Chicho. Bree recalls, “at the time Gail had a bunch of 3-year old’s they had bred, a 4-year-old and she completely surprised me by bringing the horse I had been riding, Etienne, or ‘Eddie,’ from Germany for me to continue. I cried when I saw him at Caliburn on my first day of work. I jumped my first 1.40m on ‘Eddie,’ then my first National Grand Prix and then my first $100,000 1.55m Grand Prix, he was difficult to ride but so much scope and a great personality.”
When the couple first started at Caliburn they had to take a step back from training and showing. Caluburn had a nice group of young horses to start, but a majority of their time was spent cleaning stalls, cutting grass and maintaining the farm. Over the years Caliburn has evolved and they now have 25 horses in the states including 4 Grand Prix horses. "Our dream was always to make it to the Grand Prix level and Gail has really made that happen for us. We have a great relationship with her, and we really appreciate all the support she has given us throughout the years," says Bree. Gail also owns half of a top Grand Prix horse for Andre Thieme and a handful of quality young horses for Pato in Germany.
The couple now have an 18-month-old daughter, Sofia, who adores farm life with the horses and dogs, so they have cut down on the long distance shows, but plan to ride in Culpeper in August, Tryon in September, and they always try to compete in Nashville in October as they head south to the beautiful property Gail purchased in the spring. They will stay in Florida from the end of October until April 2020. Currently though, Chicho is in Germany training with Thieme at his stable and Andre’s rider is in Virginia – trans-continental role reversals!
Earlier this summer, Caliburn Farm hosted its first $1000 Free Jumping Championship in conjunction with the Upperville Colt and Horse Show (one of Bree’s favorite shows) to support young horse development. Gail is on the Upperville Board and with the showgrounds only minutes away, it was a fun and success event. Smiles Bree, “it was really fun to host this event, we are trying to find ways for the young horses to get more exposure. Our judges were very experienced and gave great comments and insight, which was good education for everyone.”
Bree and Chicho have traversed several countries, learning from some of the best and bringing that training to the young horses at Caliburn Farm, definitely a duo to keep your eye on!
Bree’s Advice for Young Riders ...
“Take a year ... or 5 ... to be a groom or a working student. Find someone who rides well and has horses that look happy, healthy and always well turned out at shows and go learn. We hire a lot of young girls in our barn and it's amazing to see how much they learn in just a year. If you want to be a great rider, riding is just the half of it!”