A Memorable Equine Fantasia
Courtesy of Jerry & Staci Diaz

Story by Dianne Law
Photos by Robbin Cresswell

Have you ever sat and watched Isaac Perlman, violinist, in concert? I have. His hands held the violin as if it were made of gossamer crystal. His fingers on the bow spoke the merest presence, a whisper, on the strings. And with seemingly hidden and subtle motion, the violin spoke a hundred languages and imparted a million emotions. It quietly and crushingly imprinted the moment in your consciousness and memory. That memory was awakened again at Three Mile Creek Ranch when Jerry Diaz, better known as Charro de Corazon, with the same mastery and shadow quality played for us a memorable melody on the reins of Serrano, a magnificent bay Andalusian, the equivalent of an Equine Fantasia.

Robbin Cresswell, Gina Nokes, and I were invited to Three Mile Creek, a crisp and neat barn on the east side of New Braunfels, for the Diaz family’s gracious weekend retreat for the First Annual All State Miss Rodeo Queens, Teens, and Princesses. A world known Equestrian, Mr. Diaz, who has performed in as many different venues as you can name from local rodeos to the Olympics, had thrown open his home and ranch to these young women participating from eight states for a weekend of fun, food and education. Last Year, Mr Diaz was selected as a judge for the Miss Texas Rodeo Pageant. He stated he has done a lot of things in his life, but “This was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.” He was so impressed with the imagination, determination, and genuine good will of these young women; he felt a need to give back to them in some small way for the experience. During their stay not only was there sight seeing, and good-natured joking, but the girls where challenged to learn new and different principles in equine management, nutrition, training, partnership, and just plain fun.

One of those FUN items was Trick Riding demonstrated by 12-year-old Jamie Meyers, riding 10-year-old Pistol, a black and white APHA gelding. Traveling at an ear-back, neck-stretch full gallop around the 200’ X 100’ covered arena, Jamie hung precariously from her special saddle to perform such gymnastics movements as the Side Stand, Power Run, Indian Hide Away, and Spin Around the Horn. Riding aside her horse (NO, not astride, aside), she positioned herself in forward and reverse positions, blindly trusting Pistol to run his pattern with little direction from his rider. As I watcher her twirl and twist lithely around Pistols undulating mass, I couldn’t help but laugh at the discouraged comments made by my young daughter when she was taking tumbling lessons. If she thought that was hard, how about doing those same maneuvers on an unstable platform, with saddle parts flying in unusual paths, and with the possibility that things can always go suddenly and woefully wrong. Throw in the fact that she is still in training and she was demonstrating her skills in front of women who have already passed their own rite of passage with their riding skills (earned their spurs so to speak); amazing poise and professionalism from a pre-teen!

Charro de Corazon (Jerry, his wife Staci and joining them soon will be 6 month old son Nicolas) tours America, Mexico, and Canada. Jerry believes in the union that can be developed between horse and rider. He repeated throughout the girls’ stay, “You have to work hard to succeed. It takes Lots of Patience and Lots of Work.” Charro de Corazon is dedicated to educating every individual who attends special equestrian events, from rodeos to conventions, that horsemanship need not be done with whips, chains, starvation, or cruelty. That man and horse can, through respect, communion, and perseverance, attain any goal. But he will stress with vehement assertion that any goal worth attaining takes time, patience and “HARD WORK.”

His proof - that magic just doesn’t happen over night and that it can, at times, be discouraging - lives in Serrano, a 10-year-old Andalusian stallion rescued from an abusive home. Jerry’s father, Senor Jose “Pepe” Diaz, began the process of turning this violent, dangerous, terrified 2-year-old into the gentle and rock steady stallion he is today. Pepe said of Serrano, “He was as wild as a March hare!” Pepe immigrated to America in the early 50’s; he used a gentle touch with horses long before it became Vogue. A natural horseman, he started working Serrano slowly, doing things with kindness and precise consistency in a round pen. But through Jerry’s monism Serrano, in just five short years, progressed to performing at the height of the equestrian profession.

Serrano has his PhD. Performing in the intricate High School maneuvers, Jerry played their melody for us. With Serrano in hand, we watched as their performance began with a military march and progressed up to the Piaffe. Regardless of Serrano’s elevation or swing, Jerry’s position, his hands on reins and aids, never varied, never grabbed or pained the mahogany bay athlete in his performance. We watched, spellbound, as Serrano cantered purposefully and with kinetic energy around Jerry on the length of a rein. Meanwhile, Jerry, with complete confidence Serrano would continue his circle, continued to do what he loves most. Educating people.

Jerry has a long career in making the most out of people. A graduate of Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, Jerry has known his life would revolve around horses and people. He feels to date his greatest achievement has been his show partner, life partner, and friend; wife Staci.

Staci is an accomplished horsewoman in her own right. Now why anyone would want to straddle two horses while driving four more is beyond my concept of fun, I have to admire the courage, balance, and intestinal fortitude of the Roman Rider. This time Staci rode more sensibly on the back of just a single horse. Dakota, a handsome 15-year-old APHA sorrel tobiano, demonstrated once again how kindness, consistency, and respect can turn the most savage animal. Dakota was purchased by Staci’s father, Don Anderson, at a “used saddle-bronc sale” for a mere $750. Dakota had no love for humans after suffering the inequity of being on a rodeo string. Today, not only does he think humans are OK, but has developed quite a panache as a ham. For those of us who struggle to control our horse with both hands on the reins, it was a marvel to watch Staci take Dakota through the various High School movements with the reins held in just one hand! Here was Staci, a nice proper “western” length of rein held in one hand and Dakota going through the various stages of collection in walk, trot, canter, and pirouette, passage; across the ring, down the long sides and through the corners and all done with either perfect roundness or rigidly straight as each movement demands. I’d give them an 86; after all they weren’t in appropriate garb. Next they showed the girls those movements not normally seen in the dressage arena. A hesitate march (the horse takes an extra beat in his walk, extending the shoulder and holding the leg out for just a moment before taking a full step), a Military march (taking a hesitation step on each stride) to the Spanish Walk. And keeping in the Spanish motif of the evening, he finished up his performance with a Roomba step, dancing around the arena in time to the music, (well sort of, due to the storms in San Antonio that evening, they lost power to the speaker system and Jerry had to address us with enough volume for everyone on the outside of the arena to hear; Serrano was unruffled by the yelling performer on his back!) But Dakota’s skills didn’t end there and here is where the smarty showed his humorous side. As Jerry went on-and-on on some point, Dakota, bored with the whole thing, sat down, or maybe it was a comment on Jerry’s lecture, anyway from his seated position he felt a full recline was in order, obviously he has heard this little speech before and decided to take a quick siesta. But on cue he sat back up and giving Staci a kiss, he took her flag and waved to the crowd. The girls went wild!

After Jerry performed a series of BIG roping moves (standing atop Serrano!), everything from Mariposas (a big butterfly as the loop crossed over itself) and Resortes (the loop travel up and over and down and up), to the Arracadas (side to side and front to back), the evening drew to a close, Staci and Dakota gave their rendition of the Indian at the End of the Trail. A box brought into the arena gave Dakota a platform to mimic the top of the hill and with all four hooves on the itty bitty little box, his head hung down between his knees and Staci slumped over the saddle, they stood, still as a statue, to the obvious enthusiasm of the crowd as they cheered, clapped, and whistled.

After the demonstration, we were treated to a tour of the facility. Situated on 50 acres, with access to another 150, Three Mile Creek Ranch has been in operation for three years and boasts several barns with 30 stalls total. A full feature boarding and training facility, it hosts a 60+ meter boarded, fully enclosed, covered, rounded pen, hot walker, wash stalls, and tack rooms. The lighted covered arena has bleachers to hold twenty and can be used for roping, as several head of cattle are always on the premises for training. One Quarter Horse and three Andalusian stallions enjoy standing at the facility. The spacious green grounds plays host to private parties, conventions, and demonstrations. Jerry and Staci provide riding lessons for all disciplines for the serious minded, from basic horsemanship to the high school movements. Staci even teaches the young ones the discipline and balance for trick riding. Charro de Corazon plays its mystical song 7 months out of the year on the road.

You can contact Jerry or Staci Diaz at Three Mile Creek at (830) 629-2226 for more information.

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