May 31, 2020
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Juan Matute Guimon was reported Sunday to be awake, off the respirator, knowing those around him and sitting in a chair in the Madrid hospital where he underwent brain surgery three weeks ago.
Progress in the condition of the 22-year-old Spanish team rider in a Madrid was first reported in an Internet posting by Robert Dover, the six-time American Olympian, and confirmed by Juan’s father, Juan Matute Azpitarte.
“We just got the fantastic news that Juan Jr. is now awake, off the respirator, knows who everyone is, and was even sitting in a chair today! the report stated.
“The doctors and nurses were all there and amazed by his progress in the last 48 hours.
“He is, naturally, very weak and they are not allowing him to speak even though he wanted to but the direction is really good and very promising.
“Day by day now, Juan will improve and he and his family are so grateful for all of our continued prayers and well wishes!”
Juan’s father and mother, Maria, have been in Madrid since before Juan collapsed after riding on May 5.
Five days later he underwent a seven-hour operation at the Jiménez Díaz Foundation hospital to repair a congenital abnormality in the brain.
On May 23, Juan showed the first positive signs of the success of the operation when he started to cry with his parents at the hospital.
Juan’s family moved to Wellington, Florida more than a decade ago and became U.S. citizens but retained Spanish citizenship.
After a successful career throughout his youth, Juan opted to go to Spain two years ago to pursue his goal of becoming a top international rider and to go to university.
His father, a three-time Olympian for Spain, continued to coach him.
His campaign to make Spain’s senior team paid off in 2018, competing on Quantico at the prestigious World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany and on Spain’s team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games at Tryon. There, Spain was successful in qualifying for the Olympic Games scheduled for Tokyo in 2020 but delayed for a year to 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Juan returned to Wellington this year to compete on the Global Dressage Festival circuit seeking an invitation to his first World Cup Final, to be staged in Las Vegas in mid-April but was also canceled.
In an interview with dressage-news.com before the collapse, Juan said this year “was my best season thus far and I won’t be able to accomplish both of my goals for the year; Las Vegas and Tokyo. It is what it is… this is a situation affecting every single one of us and there are other priorities on a global scale.
“It was very likely that I would’ve made it on the team this year because both of my horses, Don Diego and Quantico, were performing absolutely amazing and we were on fire beating our personal best multiple times over the winter season.
“Waiting one more year means that new obstacles can arise along the way and that we lose the rhythm and flow we had built up leading to the big meets planned for the next couple of months.”
The dressage-news report of Juan’s training and competition schedule was not posted by the time of his May 5 collapse.