The majesty of skillful horsemanship has been adored and likened to dance for generations. Methodic hoofbeats guided by gentle touch reflects a harmony of communication between man and mount. Dressage is known for this mastery, but the kings of the craft are the Spanish dancers. Felix Santana and his Andalusian stallion, Majestic Romano, will be dancing through the Mule Days arena this Memorial Day weekend.
Trained in traditional high-step Spanish walking, Felix and Romano display some of the most technically challenging horsemanship in the world, in a new display from the Young Living Essential Oils barn.
“I enjoy the challenge because it’s so technical,” Santana said. “There are two types of trainers; breakers and trainers. I focus on the training side. I like to see, physically and mentally, what a horse is capable of.”
Romano is a seven-year-old stallion born in Mexico. When Santana brought him up from Mexico, he discovered that Romano is from an extremely rare bloodline.“He’s very unique,” Santana said. “He’s not huge, but he is 16.1 hands and has a big heart.”
Santana grew up watching his uncle train dancing horses that were used for shows and concerts in southern California. “There’s not a lot of trainers in the world that can do it,” Santana said. “I’m third generation and proud of it.”
When they enter the arena, Santana shows off Roman’s skills in walking, rearing, laying down, sitting and counting – yes, Romano can count.
Santana explained that while riding a Friesian is like a four-by-four, riding an Andalusian is like a Cadillac. The Andalusian has been the choice mount of royalty throughout Europe for centuries, and was a prized war horse. They’re known for their intelligence and dexterity, as well as their thick manes.
Santana has only been showing Romano for two years, but he has big plans in the future, including possibly adding a bull to his horsemanship demonstrations.
It has been a sad year for the Young Living crew as the company’s founder, Gary Young, rode into the sunset for the last time. His legacy however continues to thrive through the horses he held so dear and the company he built.
“Everything we do is in honor of the vision of Gary Young,” said Jessica Carter, equine assistant for Young Living Essential Oils. “One of the biggest passions he had was for wellness in every home, for people and animals. He loved the Friesians. Every time we perform, it’s like he’s there. The horses are the most majestic ambassadors any brand can have, and we’re incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to perform and represent Gary Young.”
Santana will be participating in the Mule Days arena shows. Tickets for reserved grandstand and general admission seats are available now at muledays.org. For more information, call the Mule Days office at (760) 872-4263.
By Kristina Blüm Justice