If you’ve heard Daniela Moguel’s name before, it might be from her appearance at Tryon International Equestrian Center as the first rider to represent Mexico in Eventing at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) with her mount, Cecelia. Along with husband Zully Castrejon, Moguel moved to Shelby, North Carolina, immediately after WEG to start a new chapter of their story. Throughout her international career, Moguel and her equine counterpart, Cecelia, have collected notable placings, including being the highest-placing Mexican rider at the Pan American Games in Toronto 2015, and placing 2nd at Morven Park CIC 3* the same year. At Dutta Corp Fairhill International CCI 3* 2016, Moguel and Cecelia were awarded the Amanda Pirie Warrington trophy for the best newcomer at this event. While Moguel was the first rider to represent Mexico in Eventing at WEG, she was also the first ever to do so at Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event CCI 4* in 2016, placing 28th. Recently, Moguel has become a familiar face at TIEC as the pair trained for the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event.
As TIEC’s new “neigh”bors in the region, we caught up with “Danny” and Zully to learn more about their business, Eventing Dazull, and their goals for the future. Read below to hear about their story and how they’re helping grow the sport of Eventing in North Carolina!
Photo courtesy of Daniela Moguel
How did moving from Mexico City to Shelby, NC, come about?
DANNY: It’s funny, because everyone asks me, ‘Why did you pick North Carolina, and how did you pick Shelby?’ And I always respond, ‘No, Shelby picked me.’
It’s true – When I was 18 years old, I came from Mexico with my horse, Tequila, as a working student for Joy Pharr. She has a farm in Shelby, and was a 3* Eventer, so I came to be a working student for her. She took me to the North American Junior Young Rider Championship, then I went back to Mexico to go to university, and that was it.
We knew of each other a little bit because of Facebook, but we never really kept in touch. And then a year ago, we were here at the Eventing Test Event for WEG [The FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018], and she was here – she had come with her family. And outside the window she saw someone moving like this [dramatic movement] – and she said, ‘That’s Danny!’
And it was funny, because I heard someone calling my name – and I turned around and it took me a split second to recognize her. After 17 years, it was instant. And we were catching up, and she told me that she had kids and had quit the horses, but still had the farm.
I mentioned that I was going to WEG and had just talked to my husband about getting a visa to work here in the States, and she said, ‘Would you be interested in leasing my farm? Because I don’t want to just give it away to anyone. It’s a very important part of my life and I don’t want to sell it but I don’t want to give it to someone who doesn’t know what it means.’
And I wasn’t ready, but I said ‘yeah, maybe!’ So, I called my husband and said ‘remember when we were talking about maybe moving?’ He flew in, we loved the place, and he got along very well with Joy and David, and here we are. Just like that.
We moved right after WEG. We’ve been here not even six months. It’s crazy. It’s been hard because we moved in the winter, and everything happened so quickly. We had the business and house in Mexico, and we closed everything abruptly to come here.
ZULLY: The cool thing is, you know in your relationship when you’re thinking about more stuff for the future, I remember Danny telling me, ‘We should build a ten-stall barn with a house on the top of the barn.’ And now that’s Charlie Horse Farm, where we live.
And you brought your WEG horse to North Carolina with you, right?
DANNY: So after WEG, we moved the cats, the ferret, the dogs – everything. Four dogs, one cat, one ferret. We brought the horse he [Zully] rides, two baby horses bred from a very good show jumper facility in Mexico that we are hoping to find investors for, and another two mares that we want to develop through the levels. Even for Cecelia, we ended up buying our partner’s share and would be open to a new investor for her.
Cecelia is funny how we found her. We are not rich or anything close to that – we work and pay our bills working with horses and clients and things. Zully has this thing that he believes he can buy anything, so I always brush him off…
ZULLY: I’m always looking at horses, and one day I saw this mare that caught my eye, and I said, ‘Why do you not have this horse?’ She said, ‘Because we don’t have money for this horse!’ And two or three days later I made her watch the videos again.
DANNY: He kept saying, ‘This is the horse for you,’ and kept pushing. ‘There’s no way we can do that,’ I said. Until finally I said, ‘Well, give me an idea of how it could work!’ Zully said, ‘Why don’t you ask the owner of the place where we work, and show him the video?’
The owner said, ‘I like the mare. If you convince my wife to go to the States and look at it, we will make something work.’
So we went, and that’s how we ended up getting Cecelia as half-and-half partners four years ago.
ZULLY: You never know what’s possible. That’s why I think all the time about these things – if you believe in yourself, you can do it. You can find a way if it’s something that’s a true thought you have and really feel it inside.
DANNY: With Cecelia, I’d like to go to the Olympics with her next year, so I need to do a lot of 4* and 5* events to prepare. So that’s why I’m going to Kentucky, because if I have a good weekend there it will give me good points and hopefully more exposure as well.
Photo courtesy of Daniela Moguel
What are your goals for this new chapter in North Carolina?
DANNY: Because we’re new in the area, all the support of clients and owners in Mexico is gone, so that’s kind of hard. And we moved in the winter, so it’s been slow to [connect to the community]. We want people to know we’re here and in the area and open for clinics, and clients. I’ve done some clinics with the Clemson team, and I love working with that level. I’ve also done some work with Pony Club, too.
Zully teaches as well – it’s pretty cool that we can team up together. He’s a really good teacher, especially with kids – and older ladies. He’s an excellent rider also. He did a lot of Jumpers in Mexico and has now moved up to the 2* level as an Eventer.
We want to show the world that we’re now on this side of the world!
Obviously, you’re so close to TIEC now. How will you utilize the facility?
ZULLY: It’s really cool to have Captain Mark Phillips as the course designer here – he knows his stuff! WEG was excellent, how he was able to build for all the riders that attended, with multiple questions with multiple options. He’s a really good designer. I think here there are lots of recreation horses and a lot of passion for horses in this community – which is important for growing the sport on the spectator side as well
DANNY: We would love to help be a part of bringing up the quality of Eventing in this area, because we see a lot of potential. If we can help the sport, we would love to do that, and bring new blood and a new standard here. And we would love to give something back to the community, however we can do that. If we help each other, the world will work better.
Photo courtesy of Daniela Moguel
How do you think the addition of the Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials to the TIEC calendar will help grow the sport of Eventing in this region?
DANNY: I think Tryon is one of the best – if not the best – facilities for horse shows, because of the footing, jumps, the stabling, the bridle paths around the venue, its restaurants and venue design that makes everyone enjoy the show! I’m so glad there’s another date on the Tryon calendar for Eventing. I think it is great for the sport, and for sure I’ll be there!