Yuri Mansur: the man behind the yellow jacket

Yuri Mansur e Vitiki photo provided by Yuri Mansur

Yuri Mansur’s journey to showjumping stardom

The iconic yellow jacket makes him instantly recognisable both in and out of the arena. From humble beginnings in Sao Paulo, Yuri Mansur‘s journey to showjumping stardom demonstrates passion, perseverance and the unbreakable rider-horse bond.

Yuri Mansur Guerios was born on May 24, 1979, and although he did not come from a family with a background in equestrianism, he was fascinated with horses from a young age. Despite facing financial constraints and familial disapproval, Yuri remained determined to pursue his dream of becoming a professional rider. He began his journey into the world of showjumping at the age of 14, igniting a passion that would shape his life profoundly.
This is a story of dedication and passion.

Yuri was introduced to riding in a small city in Sao Paulo, where he developed his skills in modest surroundings. At the age of 18, he began competing in showjumping, despite facing many obstacles. Yuri took on the challenges of the sport with determination, guided by mentors such as Micka.

A Journey of Passion and Dedication

Yuri was introduced to riding in a small town in Sao Paulo, where he honed his skills in humble surroundings. It wasn’t until he was 18 that he ventured into competitive showjumping, defying the odds against him. Guided by mentors such as Micka, Yuri embraced the challenges of the sport with unwavering determination.

Can you share your journey into the world of showjumping? What inspired you to pursue this sport, and why did you choose this discipline specifically? Did you always know this would be your discipline?

“I started very late to be honest. I started riding when I was 14 years old, in a hotel/farm in a small city in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I jumped my first 130m class when I was 18 years old. At that time, I had a dressage mentor, her name is Micka. I had no money, and she helped me in the sport and also with many things in life. She taught me a lot about how to work a horse and how to listen to their body language.

They say, in life, you have many “angels” in your way, right? People who guide you and help you to build up who you are. And I can tell you she was for sure my first “angel”. She made me the rider I am today.

I never had any interest in competing in dressage. My focus has always been jumping. In Brazil, I didn’t have much contact with other modalities as well, so jumping it is!”

The Rider-Horse Connection: A Key to Success

Yuri emphasized the significance of the bond between rider and horse. He explained that a thorough understanding of a horse’s temperament, preferences, and needs is crucial for success in the arena. Yuri’s connection with his horses goes beyond competition; it represents mutual trust and respect.

– How crucial do you consider the bond between rider and horse in showjumping? From your experience, is it possible to achieve great results with a horse you’re not familiar with, or is that invisible connection between rider and horse necessary for success?

“In my point of view, there are two kinds of bond with the horses, and both are equally very important in the top-level sport.

There is a day-by-day bond, meaning you know how your horse likes to eat the hay, for example, and if he is a fast eater, or if he uses normal shoes, how dirty he wakes up, if his legs have any cuts in the skin. This bond you can see many grooms have, and without this connection, this knowledge, small details are left behind. Small details that make the difference between losing and winning. Grooms are as much part of the victory as the rider. Without their job, nothing would be possible.

The other bond is the rider x horse bond. Most of the riders (I can include myself in it) have this fine connection just by looking at their horse. They know if the horse is stressed or tired. Riders also know the size of their horse’s strides, what bit makes them feel more comfortable, to which side they turn better, what is their horse’s reaction when you shorten the martingale. Besides technical approaches, the real horseman also know which feed/supplements need to be given, which shoes are the best for your horse, how is the health of your horse and so and so on.”

Yuri Mansur e Vitiki 1

“Being a rider is not only about riding the horse. It’s all before, during, and afterwards. And each and every single of those steps are equally important to the result and success.”

— Yuri Mansur

A Tale of Triumph and Inspiration: Vitiki, Qh Alfons Santo Antonio, and Miss Blue

– What type of horse do you find yourself most comfortable and successful with? Are there specific personality traits or characteristics in a horse that align best with your riding style and approach?

“Horses with lots of blood are my favorite. I am not a rider that uses a lot of leg, and I always found it easier to make a horse calmer than awake.

– You’ve had remarkable success with Vitiki, particularly in the FEI World Cup™ Final in Omaha 2023. Do you believe she’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse, the one that comes along rarely? Can you tell us about her?

“I was 4th in the World Cup Final 2023. It was a shame we lost the podium because of the timing rule to break the tie, but at the same time, being there with Vitiki was something that will always make me proud. It even gives me goosebumps.

Most of the people know Vitiki and his history. This one is for sure a once-in-a-lifetime horse not only because of what we did together, but because we are connected. Somehow his well-being is related to me. If Vitiki is not feeling good, I am not good.

He taught me so much about being a horseman, but also how to be a better person, and how to fight for our dreams, no matter what. How everything is possible, you just have to believe it and give your heart to it. Vitiki is my inspiration and for all my family.

LC Ruas Photography c 2 1
Yuri Mansur and Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm nel GP del CSI5* 1.60 m CHIO Aachen (c) Luis Ruas Photography – Photo provided by Yuri Mansur

– You’ve also achieved great results with Qh Alfons Santo Antonio, even participating in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. Can you share his story or a memorable moment you’ve had with him?

“Alfons is a special horse also. He gave me my first Olympic Games, my first great result in a World Games and he taught me a lot. He looks like an “easy” horse, but he is definitely not. He is a very stubborn horse, he likes everything his way and at the beginning, to find a connection with him, I went back to the basics. He is the only horse I ride without a noseband, for example. It was difficult to finally discover that this was annoying him, but he somehow told me.

Alfons gave me many moments, also includes clear rounds in Aachen, Tokyo, and World Games.

In Tokyo, I was the only rider from the whole American continent to go to the individual finals. This was a great result for me and for my career. The Brazilian team was 6th in Tokyo, and our team worked hard for this result. It was an incredible show that one. Even without any public, the energy of an Olympic Game is remarkable.

– Among your numerous successes, which victory or result holds the most special place in your heart?

There are many… With Vitiki, any result is amazing. But for sure, the 4th place in the World Cup Finals, and the first time he won a 145m class in Wellington, was a national show, after he returned to the sport. And also the second place in GP La Baule… In that day everybody was in tears.

With Alfons, for sure the Olympic Games and Herning WG.

And with Miss Blue, winning the Turkish Grand Prix in Aachen still takes my breath away. It was the end of an incredible history and she is amazing.

– Brazil secured Olympic qualification in October 2023 at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. How proud are you of this achievement, and what are your expectations for the upcoming Olympics?

Yes, our team did a great job in Barcelona. They were very cold, held up a big pressure, and completed the job. Very proud of them.

There are still 141 days to the Olympic Games, a lot has to happen, and we are all working hard to get there. It’s a short time, but the road is very long.

Overcoming Adversity: The Mark of a True Champion

Yuri has faced challenges on his journey, but with the backing of his team and family, he bounced back with a vengeance.

– Despite victories and milestones, every rider faces challenges in their career. Have you ever struggled with self-confidence? Can you share a moment from your career, even from your younger days, when you had to overcome a tough time? How did you overcome that moment, and what do you think is useful for managing emotions before a competition?

“Well, for sure after Vitiki’s accident, the next months were very hard. I almost stopped riding. My team and family made me continue, but at that time, I didn’t see any reason for it.

I believe years ago, when I was younger, learning and facing new challenges every day, dealing with my mistakes was harder. Today, with experience and maturity, I search solutions for my mistakes and try to find new paths. Not only riding, but in life also.

Yuri Mansur e Vitiki 1

I am the type of person that never sees a limit. I always cross them. To improve is my motto.

— Yuri Mansur

A Beacon of Hope for Future Generations

Perseverance is the key and Yuri offers invaluable advice to aspiring athletes. His message resonates with a generation of young riders looking to make their way in the world of showjumping.

– What advice do you have for young athletes looking to pursue showjumping either as amateurs or as professionals?

My advice would be not to give up. In anything. Life, sport, school… We learn with our mistakes and that’s what makes us better. Just keep going till you find your solutions.

LC Ruas Photography c 1
Brasilian Team World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen (c) Luis Ruas Photography – Photo provided by Yuri Mansur

The Legacy of the Yellow Jacket

Yuri’s yellow jacket has become an iconic symbol of his unwavering spirit and commitment to what he believes in. Capturing the essence of Yuri Mansur’s indomitable spirit, it began as a childhood dream and has become a powerful emblem of identity and perseverance.

– Lastly, a fun question about your iconic yellow jacket: it’s become your symbol of recognition. Can you tell us about its origin and significance?

“When I was young, I always believed the Brazilian riding team should wear yellow, like the football players.

When I was young, I always believed the Brazilian riding team should wear yellow, like the football players. And later in life, I had some disagreements with some workers and my team was split. I wanted to send a message to my clients that we were not together anymore, something that everybody could see from far who I was and who were my former workers.

And from that moment, I knew my childhood beliefs would come back… I made the yellow team, with the yellow jacket. And from then (around 2009), I never took it off anymore. It became part of me.”

Yuri Mansur’s rise to the global showjumping stage demonstrates the transformative power of passion, perseverance and belief. He remains a shining example of how to pursue your dreams against all odds and has inspired generations with his remarkable achievements. Yuri Mansur’s legacy shines brightly as a beacon of hope for all who have the courage of their dreams.

A. Ceserani

Photos Provided by Yuri Mansur

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