Palm trees, sunshine, and horses. It sounds like an equestrian’s perfect vacation, but for 23-year-old Eugenio Garza Pérez, it’s home. Based out of his family farm in Wellington, Florida, the young Mexican show jumper — currently ranked in the top 110 of the Longines FEI World Show Jumping Rankings — balances a successful career with his studies at the University of Miami.
Eugenio was born in Monterrey, Mexico and moved with his parents, Monica and David Garza, to Dallas, Texas when he was 15. There they bought a farm named El Milagro, or “the miracle.” The family soon relocated again to Wellington and purchased 10 acres of raw land on which to build their dream farm in the Palm Beach Point equestrian community.
Monica herself drafted the layout of the property, including designing the 16-stall barn, 13,000 square foot house, and convenient on-site grooms quarters, despite having no previous design experience. The result is a beautiful, efficient training facility and family farm christened with the same name as its predecessor — El Milagro.
“She did an absolutely amazing job. She has an eye for things. It was a lot of work and I think we’re all proud of her for that,” Eugenio says of his mother. “[My parents] have been around horses all their lives. Both their families were horse families. They have always wanted to have property where they live with horses. They really completed their dream.”
"The barn itself is really special. What makes it more special is the people in it."
During the design process and subsequent construction by Pegasus Builders, the barn was the primary focus, and Monica planned the modern contemporary structure with the horse in mind. “The main concern was the safety and comfort of the horses.”
Each stall is an ample 16 x 16 feet, with kick-proof walls and a window to the outside. The T-shaped center aisle barn is situated so the tall, wide aisle runs east to west, taking full advantage of the breeze and keeping the barn cool. “It’s a relaxing place and the horses love it,” states Eugenio.
A typical day at El Milagro begins early. Eugenio and assistant Carlos Myrrha will start riding around 7:00 a.m., usually getting jump schools out of the way first while the air temperature is cooler. Eugenio jokes that the grooms are the “the bosses” when it comes to the order the horses are ridden, but he always looks forward to riding Armani SL Z.
“He’s my best horse right now. I’m not going to say I dedicate more time to him, but he’s the one I’m paying most attention to right now,” Eugenio says of the 11-year-old Zangersheide (Asca Z x Cumlaude Z). “Armani is the barn favorite. He’s just a nice horse and lovely horse to be around.”
The barn and landscaped property are visually stunning, but it is first and foremost a well organized, productive facility. “It’s a modern feel but it is a working barn. It’s easy to work out of there,” Eugenio says. He can walk right out of the end of the barn into a sand arena with footing by Wordley Martin Premium Equestrian Surfaces or school in a nearby grass field.
On show weeks, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is a short trailer drive but “far enough away that you don’t still feel like you’re at the show” when the horses come home for the night.
When the riding is done, each horse is tended to in one of six wash bays, each equipped with hot and cold water and an overhead fan. They are then hand walked or turned out in one of six paddocks. The horses may also spend time in the cold water spa, the entrance of which is dug in and flush with the barn floor for safety.
With Eugenio making the nearly two-hour trip to Miami for classes several days a week in addition to keeping a demanding training and showing schedule, he feels blessed to have help on the ground from his parents and the farm staff.
“The barn itself is really special. What makes it more special is the people in it,” Eugenio says. “Our grooms have been with us for 10 years and one with us for almost 15. Carlos is like a brother to me. We all get along great. It’s a great team and everyone pulls their own weight.”
When he’s through with riding, Eugenio likes working out to keep in top athletic performance and, as a third-year business student, diligently makes time to hit the books. He winds down the day spending time with loved ones.
“Sometimes we have dinners and friends come over. My brothers come [visit from Mexico],” Eugenio says. “My parents built this place to their liking and it feels like home. It’s a happy place for the family. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to have a ranch to stable out of. I think we all ride for El Milagro.”
Read this next: Eugenio Garza Pérez's 10 Steps to Peak Performance
Photography by Kaitlyn Karssen for NöelleFloyd.com.
Written by Leslie Threlkeld
Having grown up on horseback, Leslie Threlkeld, Managing Editor at NOËLLE FLOYD, treasures her career in the equestrian industry as a writer, photographer, and eventing technical delegate. Leslie thrives on frequent travel but never tires of returning home to the serene mountains of North Carolina.