Dressage talent: Severo Jurado López

At twenty-eight Severo finished fifth in the Rio Olympics. He is known as a natural talent, lives in Denmark and rides world-class horses for Helgstrand Dressage. At the Norwegian Horse Festival, we talked to him about horses, life and his professional goals.

By: the Editors
Published: June 12th, 2019


A life with horses

Severo López was born and raised in Algemitas, a small village close by Seville in the south of Spain. His passion for horses and riding came directly from his grandfather. When Severo realised that he didn’t perform his best at school, he decided to make his passion into his future livelihood.  

– For me there wasn’t really any other alternatives than a life with horses. The reason I chose dressage is probably because of the local tradition. Riding in Spain is closely connected with the principles of dressage. And especially in the area of Andalucía.

Severo conducted his professional riding-education in the historical town of Ronda. Then he moved to Germany and Holland, working at international acclaimed stables like Van Olst Horses. 


The best horses in the world

Even though Severo has lived a large part of his life abroad, he keeps his Spanish heritage close to heart. He speaks eagerly – with a strong Spanish accent, accompanied by an even more lively body language. Since the Rio Olympics in 2016 he has been working with Andreas Helgstrand in Denmark, a cooperation he seems very enthusiastic about. 

I wanted the opportunity to ride some of the best dressage horses you could find on this planet. In my view, Helgstrand Dressage is one of the leading stables when it comes to the training and the trading of dressage horses.  
— Severo Jurado López

HESTV: Watch clips from the clinic and our interview with López from 00:33 - 01:03.


A change of generations 

Severo becomes quiet for the first time during our interview when we ask him to share his thoughts about the development of the dressage sport during the last ten years. He takes a moment to think before answering.

– Going back ten years, Holland began a new era with the breeding of more powerful and flashy gaits. Before that, the focus was more on the conservative, or you might call it more traditional, dressage. Holland created a new trend where dressage became more entertaining to watch. Totilas is a good example of a horse that changed how many would view the sport of dressage.  

Not everyone in the sport supported this change. Generally speaking, there was a dissent between the older and younger generations. The older riders preferred the more traditional and technical dressage, whilst the younger riders embraced the new trend of power and schwung.

– During this period, world famous Valegro was a phenomenon. The older generation loved him for his technical talent, whilst he had the energy and movements to enthuse the younger crowds. 


Staying abroad

When asked if he would ever consider moving back to Spain, Severo is doubtful. He can’t see himself working with horses in his home country. His main reason is the Spanish traditional view on the sport. 

– I don’t see the same development in Spain, and they lag a bit behind other parts of Europe. But the food is much better back home. And of course, the weather! 

Photo:  from López’   Instagram   / Lily Forado / Pierre Anderzon

Photo: from López’ Instagram / Lily Forado / Pierre Anderzon


5 quick questions for Severo

Favourite dressage exercises? 
I prefer exercises that are complex and fun to watch for an audience. If I were to pick a few, it would be piaffe, passage and extended trot.

Bad habits as a rider?
As a young rider I had to work hard on my position. When you develop as a rider and shake some bad habits, new ones tend to turn up. My focus now is on avoiding getting new bad habits!

Teach others or ride yourself?
I prefer to be the one riding! Unless I have a student that is very motivated and eager to learn, I would rather be on the horse myself. If I am invited back to the Norwegian Horse Festival next year, I would be happy to bring some of my horses and show how I solve different challenges. 

The goals for this season? 
Winning the World Championship for young horses on the same horse that I won the gold with last year, in the class of six-year-olds.  

What about the Olympics?
Yes, absolutely, a goal is to qualify for the Olympics!