Julio Mendoza’s dancing horses and la Garrocha

11 photos, 1 video

Julio Mendoza has been riding horses since he was 3 years old, but his roots go back much further than that — he is the fourth generation in his family to train them.

Mendoza’s horses do something a little different than what you see at the Preakness Stakes. On his horse farm in Union Bridge, he teaches them dressage, or what is sometimes called “horse ballet.” In dressage, the rider and horse communicate to perform different moves and steps.

Mendoza also performs la Garrocha, which is a type of dressage that incorporates a 12-foot wooden garrocha pole. I visited he and his wife’s farm last week and took some photos and video.

VIDEO: Julio performs la Garrocha and dressage

Originally, I had shot the braiding of the horse’s (named Xairel) tail intending for it to be a sequence. When I got to the editing stage, however, it seemed more appropriate to show multiple angles at once — including one of Mendoza’s face. This way, I could show the sequence in half the time.