BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Meet Mica Mabragana, equestrienne extraordinaire.
Mabragana was 15 when she made her first visit to the United States. She was a member of a Buenos Aires riding team and invited to compete at Lendon Grays Dressage4Kids , a local competition that has since become a leading event in the northeast.
Suddenly I saw what dressage was all about, she says. It wasnt important in Argentina. When I saw Courtney King riding Idocus, I was so impressed.
I thought, Look what people can do! Courtney is just a working student, not from a rich family. Look at the opportunity you can have here.
King, now Courtney King-Dye, worked and trained with Bedfords Lendon Gray, a former Olympian rider. King-Dye went on to represent the U. S. in the 2008 Olympics.
Dressage is beautiful, says Mabragana. Its an art. Its striving for perfection. You need to have focus. But you never stop learning. Its just poetry when its done right.
Back in Argentina, Mabragana continued to be enthralled. After high school, she came back to work with Gray in Bedford. It was a complex and expensive effort. The Argentine economy was in trouble. Her family had had to sell their weekend retreat and live off the proceeds. Scraping up the airfare was difficult.
When I got here I hated it, she said. I was so homesick. I missed my family, my friends, all the social aspects of life in Buenos Aires. I used to see people all the time, not just squirrels and deer. I only knew a little English so I was quiet most of the time. People thought I was shy. I had a five-year visa. It seemed like a prison sentence."
One day, Mabragana said, she saw some of the videos that riders had sent Lendon in the hope of being taken on as working students. I realized that a million people wanted to be in my position! After two or three years, I thought, no way am I going back to Argentina, except to visit.
Mabragana worked and trained at Bedfords Sunnyfield Farm practically 24/7. Her riding skills improved to the level of excellence. With Grays assistance, she entered competitions and eventually found a sponsor to help her on her way.
Today she has a green card and her own training and boarding business in Bedford. She represented Argentina in Germany at the 2007 Young Riders World Cup. Her goal is to compete internationally and perhaps one day get to the Olympics. Its more of a dream than a goal, she explains. A lot of things have to align. It would be the icing on the cake. It makes me very happy to know where I came from and where I am. I was very lucky.
Mica Mabragana will celebrate her 25th birthday on Sept. 22.
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