When it comes to horses, Luis Macias knows there’s always a lesson to be learned. As a crucial member of the Evergate Stables team, Macias works with horses of tremendous talent and ones with larger than life personalities that make his job entertaining and rewarding.
Show stables don’t come much more high profile than Evergate, which is owned by Jenn Gates and includes her fiancé Nayel Nassar and Dutch superstar Harrie Smolders as part of the team, and Macias takes tremendous pride in all that the organization has become. “I was very fortunate to be introduced to Evergate equestrian operations manager Chris Howard through a friend early in my career,” Macias said. “I started with a temporary position, with just a few horses. After a few weeks, I started working full time as a groom and am still in the same position. Since then, my position has remained mostly the same, just with some newer horses and a growing team.”
“Luis and I have worked together for over six years, and there is nobody I trust more,” said Howard. “His reliability and dedication to Jenn, her horses and her properties is unparalleled. Without him Evergate Stables would not run anywhere near as smoothly as it does.”
Originally from Mexico, the 44-year-old came to the United States at the age of 16. For years he did contract jobs in California and then Florida. Now married with two daughters in their 20s, Macias spends most of his time at the Evergate facilities in Florida and on the road with the team. In his free time, he likes to play basketball, baseball and volleyball.
“We actually have a basketball hoop at the barn, which is fun,” he said. “I also love to cook—I cook anytime I have the chance!
“Growing up as a kid,” he continued, “I always thought about having my own farm. So I guess you can say I have always wanted to be involved with horses. I also worked in a restaurant when I was younger, and being a cook has always appealed to me.”
Macias’ entrance into the equestrian world didn’t begin at Evergate. “I have been working with horses since about 2002,” he said. “My uncle had a ranch in Mexico, and I spent a lot of time there. My neighbors growing up had horses, too—we used to watch ‘la charreria,’ a competitive Mexican event similar to rodeo. I also had a lot of friends from my hometown working in the horse industry. My younger brother started working with some farms in Wellington, and he introduced me to it.”
At Evergate, Macias has honed his skills and is well respected among his peers and equines alike. “Horses teach me something new every day,” he said. “They communicate with you, if you let them; they show you if something is bothering them. I am constantly impressed by how much they can do. They are so athletic and fit, and they handle the long hours of being transported to and from competitions. They will show signs if they are tired, hungry, thirsty, etc.—we need to watch and listen to them.”
Macias doesn’t believe in cutting corners when it comes to grooming and forming a bond with his charges. “I really don’t think there are any special tricks,” Macias said. “The biggest thing for me is taking the time to get to know the horse as an individual and spending time with them, especially if it is a new horse. They all have unique personalities—some can be nervous, some are quieter—it takes time and patience to learn what they like and don’t like. It is so important to be open-minded.”
Grooms at Evergate share the care of all the horses. “Even though we don’t have specific horses assigned to us,” said Macias, “there have definitely been some special ones. Cadence was one that I looked after regularly—he was really special. He was a character and had a strong personality. When I first started working with him, I realized that I had met him three years earlier while I was in Argentina for the Nations Cup. I remembered his eyes, and he was one of those horses that really needed to trust the people around him to perform well.”
Preferring the livelier personalities, Macias also bonded with crowd favorite Pumped Up Kicks. “ ‘Kicks’ is one of my favorites,” he said. “He was really difficult at first because he had a lot of energy, and we didn’t know much about him when he came to us. We bonded a lot over the first few months, and once he settled in to our program he was great to work with. It all started to click with us in the barn as well as in the competition ring; it makes me proud to see him and Jenn do so well together.”
Macias also has a soft spot for the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding Monaco. He explained, “I have really bonded with Monaco recently. He can also be a bit difficult in the barn because he is so energetic and curious, but he has a great personality. I feel like I have developed a great relationship with him. I have gone to two shows with him recently, and he won both times—those are the most exciting moments for me.”
Macias’ favorite part of his job? “I honestly enjoy all of it,” he said. “The horses, the people, going to shows at the top level—it’s amazing. I enjoy being part of the team that is competing against some of the best in the world. I like when we have good results at a show. The feeling of adrenaline in the schooling arena of a five-star competition is incredible: Everyone on the team is focused, and then the excitement when your rider is in the arena jumping is an amazing feeling.
“The kindness and trust of the people I work for—they are amazing,” Macias continued. “The whole team is great to work with. We all look out for each other, and no one is left behind; we truly work as a team. It doesn’t matter how small or big the task is, everyone helps out, and we make sure that we support each other.”
“I am so grateful to have Luis as part of the Evergate Stables team,” said Gates. “He takes unbelievable pride in his work and has a deep respect for the horses—his passion for working with them shows every day!”
He loves working with them, but Macias is also grateful to the horses. “Horses have given me a career and amazing opportunities to travel and see the world,” he said. “I have also really enjoyed seeing how horses—and their riders—I have worked with progress over the years. It has been a privilege to watch!”