California Riding Magazine • September, 2014

Rancho El Encanto
Sleepy little town producing spectacular Spanish horses.

by Kim F. Miller

Rancho El Encanto's Farucco LXXXIII

Even without knowing the property's name, Rancho El Encanto poses an enchanting sight when glimpsed from a car window cruising by on a winding, wooded road in the Monterey area. In the paddock visible from the road, buckskin, gray, bay and black young horses frolic in the shade of spreading oaks and pines.

Those in the know might recognize the solid bodies and sound conformation as those of well-bred Spanish horses, but even an expert might underestimate the quality of horses housed in this unpretentious facility in the sleepy Santa Cruz County town of Aptos. It hasn't traditionally been known as a hub of top Spanish-bred horses, but thanks to Dr. Ariel Martinez, his first stallion Farucco LXXXIII, and a herd that now numbers 60, it is becoming exactly that.

Farruco LXXXIII, Champion of Champions.

Luna CCXCIV, Champion Mare and Absolute Champion of Movement.

Known as "El Doctor" among friends, family and fellow breeders, Dr. Martinez is a family physician who lives and practices in nearby Watsonville. Raised in Mexico, he grew up with horses and always held a soft spot for them. About 10 years ago, he decided to buy one. He was thinking racehorses initially, but that changed during a 1996 trip to SICAB, the grand finale of the Spanish National Championships for Andalusian stallions and mares in Sevilla, Spain. He went with a friend who is an expert on Spanish horses and his ideas of owning a racehorse went out the window. "I saw their flowing manes and tails and their dramatic way of going, and that was it!" he recalls.

He didn't have his friend's expertise in Spanish bloodlines at the time, but Dr. Martinez knew a high quality horse when he saw it and that was Farruco LXXXIII. "It was love at first sight," Dr. Martinez laughs.
"I decided right then that I had to have this magnificent horse. I didn't even ask the price."

Revoltoso LXXVIII, two time Champion of the Breed at Feria of the Spanish horse.

Victor Martinez, Manuel Pena and Ivan Martinez.

The stunning gray stallion arrived in the United States as a relative unknown on the breed show circuit, but that didn't last long. He was 2009 Champion of Champions at Fiesta of the Spanish Horse and Champion of the Breed at Feria of the Spanish Horse, also in 2009. He earned Champion of Champions honors in 2010 at Celebration in Las Vegas, and Absolute Champion of Feria of the Spanish Horse 2011. Farruco was named High Point Stallion in 2009, with a score of 105.43 that remains unmatched to this day, Dr. Martinez points out with pride.

With nothing else to prove in competition, Farruco now enjoys life as the top stallion at the 22-acre Rancho El Encanto. He is, of course, a "qualified" Pura Raza Española, meaning he's certified by the Spanish national studbook, the ANNCCE, to possess the breed's highest standard, in every measure, as a sire. He has over 30 offspring, two of which are champions in their own right. Celestina XI was 3-Year-Old Champion in Las Vegas and twice Champion of Movement. Favorita CCLII was the only champion at Celebration and Feria of the Spanish Horse in 2013.

Farruco has stellar stallion stablemates, too. Ciclon IX is another qualified multi-champion horse and he counts six gold medals in functionality, in the USA and Spain. He has been a finalist at SICAB on two occasions, and was Champion of the Breed at Fiesta of The Spanish Horse and Celebration of the Pure Spanish Horse, both in 2013. He is now being prepared for a dressage career with trainer Deborah Polec of Provenance Dressage in Los Angeles.

The young stallion Revoltoso LXXVIII is a pure Cartujano who was Champion of the Breed at last year's Feria of the Spanish Horse, and Absolute Young Champion at that showcase in 2012. He, too, is in dressage training.

Favorita CCLII, two time Young Champion Filly.

Quality Conscience

Although Dr. Martinez did not initially go to Spain with the intention of becoming a breeder, he has whole-heartedly committed to the task of improving Andalusian stock in the U.S. In 2012, he purchased 12 mares, some of which were in foal, and brought them back to Aptos.

"Quality" comes up frequently as Dr. Martinez surveys his horses and, indeed, that is the entire goal of the Rancho El Encanto endeavor. It's evident in the horses he imported and, more importantly, in the offspring they are producing for domestic buyers. Looking at the colorful and playful young horses in the aforementioned paddock, Dr. Martinez points out their conformational consistency in the well-set heads and necks, nicely-muscled round bodies and sturdy, yet refined legs. The source of those traits is easy to see in Rancho El Encanto's famous sires, and in the mares who both produce and perform on the line and in the traditional Cobra class, in which three or five well-matched mares work together on a line.

Fabulilla MR, qualified mare.

Ciclon IX, multiple champion.

For all their flash and flair, the Rancho El Encanto horses also embody the Pura Raza Española's gift of famously calm temperaments. Coupled with the breed's characteristic intelligence, the horses are easy and enjoyable to train and handle. Dr. Martinez describes Spanish horses as still relatively unusual in the American market. He views dressage as a terrific way to spread the breed's popularity, thanks to the horses' natural suitability for the discipline and the inroads they have already made within the sport in national and international competition.

Meanwhile, the Rancho El Encanto horses continue to be tough to beat at the breed shows. They once again dominated the Feria del Caballo Espanol, held at City of Industry this past June. Revoltoso LXXVII was Absolute Champion again, Que Linda AM was Champion Young Mare and Luna CCXCIV was Champion Mare, while the whole team was named Best Exhibitor and trainer Manuel Pena earned Best Presenter honors.

With the Andalusian World Cup in Las Vegas looming later this month, the Rancho El Encanto horses are preparing to make another successful foray from their peaceful, beautiful home in Aptos to the breed's worldwide winner's circle.

For more information on Rancho El Encanto, visit www.ranchoelencanto.com or call 831-750-6523.

Rancho El Encanto's Farruco LXXXIII