We first encountered Daniela “Danny” Moguel and her 4-Star eventing partner, ‘Cecelia,’ by chance while watching the 2017 Rolex dressage warm up. My daughter, Finley, and her friends were watching in awe of the many talented riders when Dani – with a bright smile - and ‘Cecelia’ - with ears forward - sauntered up. The pair chatted for a few minutes before continuing their warm up. We kept an eye on, and cheered for, Danny over the next year. So, when I heard she and new husband, Zully, were packing up their Mexican operation and relocating to Shelby, NC, I knew we had to reach out.

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How did you get your start in the horse world?

I stared riding lessons when I was 10 years old. I always loved horses, I kept asking Santa to bring me a horse for Christmas, but it wasn’t until I turned 15 that my parents bought me my first horse ‘Tequila.’ He was my partner when I first came to Shelby, NC, to be a working student for Joy Pharr, who was riding at the 3-star level when she was teaching me.

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How did you get into eventing?
I started as a show jumper, as almost everyone in Mexico does, but it was when I saw a poster of a girl jumping into the water that I realized that was what I wanted to do. It turned out that girl was Karen O’Connor, who now coaches me! Riding with Karen is amazing. She has the natural ability to put into words what she sees, it’s almost like she is riding with you.

Karen is the one who brought me up to this level and showed me this side of the sport by opening doors through her knowledge and friendship. I first met Karen through the military base in Mexico City, they hired Karen as their eventing coach for the 2015 Pan-American Games. The colonel said the Mexican team was only going to be made up of military riders - but I got in the way and made the team!

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What made you relocate to NC from Mexico?

I was at the competitors party at The Fork a few years ago, when someone called out my name and when I turned around, I saw for first time after 17 years - Joy Pharr. We started talking and one thing led to another. She had quit riding years ago, but hadn’t sold her barn, she wanted to rent it to someone who would appreciate it the way she did. She thought I’d be the perfect person. Which was funny, because just a few days before that my husband, Zully, and I were thinking about if we should try to move to the US.

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Are there any differences between competing in Mexico versus the US?

The level of competition is way higher in the US. In Mexico show jumping is a big deal, a lot of people do the jumpers and the level of competition is very good, but if you want to be an eventer there are just a few shows and usually the highest level is prelim.

What are your goals for next few years?

I’m considering going to Peru to the Pan American Games this coming year. I don’t have a 2-star qualified horse other than ‘Cecelia,’ but I’m going to try to qualify for Tokyo 2020 with her, so that decision will help me decide about the Pan Am Games. ‘Cecelia’ is an OTTB and just turned 15. We have had several wonderful rides together already, like the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, 2016 and 2017 Rolex Kentucky, 2015 and 2017 Fair Hill International and just recently the WEG at Tryon. I also have a couple very nice young horses that I would love to keep for the future because they all have a lot of class. I have a remarkable 4-year-old from La Silla x Cayado x Carrara LS x Montebello LS and another excellent 3-year-old from La Silla x Chapultepec LS. We are excited about a lovely 5-year-old out of Estela de la Galerna x Orujo PSI - Impertinence ISH x Master Imp PSI who is owned by Pedro Gutierrez.

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Your husband, Zully, is an international jumper and eventer as well. Can you tell us a bit about his career and how you met?

We met at one of my friend’s houses and I was wearing my pajamas! My friend, Alux, asked me to stop by because he just got back from a long trip. I asked if there was anyone with him and he said no. So, I showed up in my snowman fleece pajamas and unicorn slippers! Zully was there, he had stopped by Alux’s house to invite him to a party. Alux was supposed to drive me home, and they did ... after taking me to the party in my very fancy outfit! Zully began riding in 2010 when we met.

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Together we opened our riding school in Mexico in 2012, where we worked with students from beginner to advanced. Last year, Zully placed 6th at the Mexican Nationals in the 1.20 mts with ‘Chalock,’ who is owned by Alexandra Cossio, a student of Zully. ‘Chalock’ just arrived in the States and they are planning to continue moving up in jumpers and eventing and he has currently competed at the 1-star level.

Advice for young riders?

Dreams do come true, you just have to work for them!