California Riding Magazine • October, 2009

Garrett Gustafson
Dressage trainer joins Equestrian Centers International and Michael D. Cintas repurchases the equestrian facility.

by Kathleen Burke Jensen

Equestrian Centers International (E.C.I.) is a state-of-the-art facility in Riverside County’s Rancho Mirage that was owned by U.S. Olympic Pentathlon Team riding coach Michael D. Cintas several years ago. It has been under his management for the last seven years and is once again under his ownership.

Cintas started construction on E.C.I. in 1983 and completed the equestrian facility in 1984. He sold the property in 2002 in order to purchase The Hills farm in San Marcos for his sister Denise Cintas when she moved from Ride America. Denise then purchased E.C.I./San Marcos from Michael in 2005 and now operates it under the name Legacy Farm.

Ryan Bell

The transition of ownership back to Cintas is good news indeed for the folks at E.C.I., including new dressage trainer Garrett Gustafson.
Gustafson grew up riding western on the family cattle farm in the small town of Sandstone, MN. After graduation he moved east to Middleburg, VA to be a fox hunting guide. While riding in Virginia, Gustafson started doing eventing and learned about dressage.

“I loved the power and control the riders have,” explains Gustafson. “It was appealing to me to have that kind of control when going over jumps.” He worked with Yolanda Mazzarisi, the first woman to ride and train with the Spanish Riding School and one of Robert Dover’s dressage instructors. “I started learning dressage at upper levels at the age of 18 years old and when I reached FEI I really got into it,” says Gustafson with a grin. “I decided I was a dressage rider.”

Ryan Bell

After committing 100 percent to dressage, Gustafson took the next logical step in the development of his career and moved to Aachen, Germany to train with David Dewestar. “I rode from grassroots to Grand Prix,” says Gustafson. “They have a great system in Germany and I got to ride some of the best horses around.” Gustafson earned the Midwestern Regional Championships every year from 1990 to 2006.

Upon his return to the States in 2000 Gustafson began working for Cintas. He’s thrilled to be going out under his own banner and running his dressage business, Garrett Gustafson Dressage Enterprises, based at E.C.I. “I have students that I’ve cultivated up to Fourth Level,” says Gustafson. He enjoys training all levels of horse and rider from novice to the upper levels. He’s particularly experienced working with kids, though he also has some adult amateurs in his clientele. “I’m more of the compassionate and passionate trainer.”

Olympian Sheila Taormina winning the jumper venue at 2008 Beijing Olympics, Modern Pentathlon. Sheila is trained and coached in riding by
USAP Equestrian Coach, Michael D. Cintas.

Gustafason says that everyone is thrilled that Cintas was able to repurchase E.C.I., as it will ensure the seamless continuation of business. E.C.I. is a beautiful facility with a big cathedral style indoor arena with micro cool misters critical in the desert setting. E.C.I. is a full service facility that includes spacious box stalls, quality feed, turnout and fully customized services.

For more information on dressage training contact Garrett Gustafson at 320-364-0173 or For information on Equestrian Centers International contact Michael Cintas at 760-321-2235 or via e-mail at or visit