Equestrian Paola De Leon Lorenzo on Taking a Leap of Faith

Equestrian Paola De Leon Lorenzo on Taking a Leap of Faith


An equestrian depends on a lot of factors to win—the horse, the trainer, the training, the environment—but for rising athlete Paola De Leon Lorenzo, being good has a lot to do with faith and careful, deliberate planning

This is an excerpt from MEGA April 2024 MEGA ACTIVE story.

Paola De Leon Lorenzo doesn’t like to leave anything to chance. A few minutes into the conversation and already we are made to observe, in full display, her no-nonsense, straight-to-business conduct that probably got her here: one of the country’s equestrians-to-watch. The 24-year-old show jumper’s composure is almost like a fortress that only unbolts and emits its power once she’s on her horse. It may also be because she is used to a little bit of chaos, growing up with 11 siblings—eight boys, four girls. 

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“I’m number eight,” she says, in that shy yet decisive way Lorenzo answers all our questions. “Yeah, it was fun, but it was pretty gulo. It was harder to get things organized, but now that we’re older, everyone’s doing his or her own thing. When you come to our house now, you don’t really notice that we’re 12 children.” 

Paola De Leon Lorenzo wears a MAX MARA dress
Paola De Leon Lorenzo wears a MAX MARA dress

On her beginnings 

Of those 12 children, three of her eldest brothers were riders, so at the early age of six, she began riding, “just for fun,” sometimes along the vast lands of Bukidnon. (Her parents are Leah and Martin Lorenzo, whose family used to operate Del Monte Philippines, which runs a pineapple plantation in Bukidnon.) At 11, she began taking riding lessons two to three times a week, and by the time she was 13, she had won her first competition, at one of the events organized by the Manila Polo Club in Makati City. Her passion for the sport hasn’t wavered since, but her upbringing also taught her the practical side of life. 

“When I was younger, I thought I would ride my whole life,” she says. “But as you get older, you realize it’s not sustainable—it’s too expensive.” In her late teens, she decided to stay in the Philippines, so she could get her degree in Management Engineering from Ateneo de Manila University. 

“School is very important for me,” she says, emphasizing the need to get her priorities straight all the time. “Balancing everything is about proper time management. You just have to organize your day according to what’s most important.” 

Flashing a big smile, the award-winning equestrian dons a H&M button up blouse and a MASSIMO DUTTI pants
Flashing a big smile, the award-winning equestrian dons a H&M button up blouse and a MASSIMO DUTTI pants

While in school, Lorenzo has represented the Philippines in several international competitions, including Hong Kong–CSI Juniors and at the Asian Equestrian Federation 3rd Junior Championships, both in 2018.  After she graduated in 2022, she spent a year in Europe to train—between Switzerland and Spain because her trainer is based in the former, but competes in the latter, especially during the colder seasons. 

On her growth 

Living away from home, in a foreign country, wasn’t as daunting as people expected, Lorenzo says. It wasn’t her first time, anyway, because she used to spend her summers in places like Germany, and as she got older, she was allowed to travel alone. This time, though, she was living independently for a whole year. 

“It was hard at first, when I left—just saying bye to my family, especially my youngest brother because we’re close,” she reveals. “We also have so much more help here, like people who take care of your horses, but abroad I do it myself because it’s too expensive. I learned that part and I learned how to take care of my own place, keeping it clean. But when you get there, you’re just so focused on what you have to do that you want to make the most of the amount of time you’re spending there and the time you’re putting in. And I was living in the stables with a few other girls. Also, when I’m faced with challenges, I don’t think it’s productive to think about how hard it is—just think about how to make it easier for yourself.”

A fashionable twist to her equestrian essentials, Lorenzo wears a MAX MARA top and skirt
A fashionable twist to her equestrian essentials, Lorenzo wears a MAX MARA top and skirt

Part of being an athlete, an equestrian, is falling and failing repetitively. Lorenzo admits that the “falls” still do sting, but she has learned how to live and grow through the pain. 

“When I don’t do well in a competition, or make a mistake, I like to make myself feel bad,” she says, smiling, and shrugging. “I don’t want to make myself feel better immediately because I want to feel the pain of the consequences of that mistake. And then I tell myself, ‘I don’t want to feel this way again,’ so I can improve. I only feel it for a while, then I have to move on. It’s important to have a short memory, like in a sense of not dwelling on your failures, especially when you’re about to compete because if you’re not confident in yourself, it shows in your actions.”

Read more about how faith, intention, and gratitude helped Paola De Leon Lorenzo find an unshakable strength in her sport in MEGA’s April 2024 issue, now available on Readly, Magzter, Press Reader and Zinio.


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