By Jan Westmark
Rider Michael Morrissey grew up in Bradenton, Florida, and horses were a part of his life from the beginning. With his father a show manager, his Uncle Jimmy Morrissey a trainer and rider, and his Great Uncle Gene Mische the show producer, Michael was traveling to shows his family produced even before he was riding. When Michael started riding with Jimmy and Gene around the age of 10, it immediately became an obsession. Michael now owns and operates Imperial Show Stables with his wife, Lourdes de Guardiola, based in Wellington, Florida, during the winter and Lexington, Kentucky, in the summer. They specialize in developing show jumpers to the grand prix level along with sourcing top quality hunter, jumper and equitation prospects from Europe. Michael continues his family tradition by training students who share the same passion for the sport that he has.
Tell us about your wife and children.
Lourdes and I married in 2012. She’s a very accomplished rider and the best person to have by my side — both at home and in the show ring. We have three kids: Lucas, Mischa and Delphine. Lourdes recently started her own business, opening up a women’s lifestyle boutique called Milou in Palm Beach, Florida.
Do any favorite horse show wins stand out in your mind?
In 2006 I spent the entire summer competing in Europe. The first show on that European tour was in St. Tropez and I won the grand prix on a horse named Crelido. He was a very special horse and that win was a lot of fun.
What are some of the shows you like to compete in?
Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in Traverse City, Michigan, has become my favorite show. Not only are the competition and the show amazing, the town offers so much for my family. We enjoy all the fun activities, restaurants, boating and beautiful scenery of Northern Michigan.
Any favorite horse experiences over the years?
I won a couple of big puissance classes and in 2008 at the Washington International Horse Show, I won the class clearing over 7 feet tall and came up a little short attempting to break the record at 7’8”.
Have you had a funny horse moment that still makes you laugh?
The first time I rode a jumper, coming off my medium pony, was a tough experience. I fell off in my first three classes doing the jumpers. I didn’t give up and can laugh about it now.
What’s your favorite thing about being part of the horse world?
Traveling and seeing so many different parts of the world
What would you like to accomplish in the future?
I’d like to try course designing and possibly venture into the management side of the business.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
Go fishing on a boat in the Florida Keys with close friends and family
Do you have a personal motto or catch phrase?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
What’s your favorite item of clothing to wear?
Shorts and a T-shirt
Most embarrassing thing you’ve ever worn?
I still get embarrassed wearing my riding clothes in public. Outside of Wellington, it’s very difficult for me to do.
What three items can usually be found in your refrigerator?
I’m married with three kids so the bigger question is what three items won’t you find in my refrigerator. I love to cook and grocery shop at least three to four times a week, so my refrigerator is always stocked.
What’s your favorite meal?
Probably a cowboy ribeye steak
Favorite type of pizza?
Pepperoni and mushroom
What would be the best gift in the world?
A nice fishing boat! And maybe a vacation house to go with it.
What’s something everyone should try at least once?
I’m a foodie, so I’d say be open to trying anything new for the first time.
How would you like people to remember you?
Kind, caring and hardworking and a great father to his kids
What’s your favorite thing about being part of a horse family?
Being in a horse family helped with having access to horses and going to horse shows. That really helped me become successful as a junior rider. But, also now as an adult and a professional in the industry, it’s great being able to see and interact with family members throughout the year while we travel and compete at horse shows.
What are some of your favorite memories from growing up?
I had a wonderful family, lived in a great neighborhood with lots of other kids and rode my bike to school every day. Even with riding being a serious part of my life, I spent a lot of time playing other sports like baseball and soccer.