“What I seek is pure freedom. I want all horses, all animals, to be able to choose what they want to do, with no constraint: truly free.”
“Horses must be happy. This, for me, is the most important thing. I love seeing my horses free in the show arenas. At home, I play while working with them, exactly as they do with me during shows.” Santi possesses charisma, a unique personality, and endearing smile and, most of all, a particular skill with his stunning horses: the audience is always captivated. Because of this, Santi SerraCamps has been invited not only to attend equestrian art shows, but also to perform during the most important International horse shows. Fieracavalli Verona, CHIO Aachen e Barcellona, CSI Olympia, Lipsia, Amburgo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New York Longines Masters, Parigi Gucci Masters are amongst the main events where his audience can enjoy his show in between competitions and lose itself in the magical and primitive understanding between man and horse.
What role did your family play?
My father taught me to ride even before I learned to walk: I owe to him and my whole family the love for horses. They have become, since I was a kid, my reason to be. It’s difficult to put into words how I communicate with my horses. The relationship is instinctive, natural and stems from mutual trust: it is established when the horses are very young as I usually start when they are 2 years old.
How long does it take to reach such a relationship to allow horses to follow a script for a show?
He who knows horses and interacts with them on a daily basis, is very aware that the concept of time is irrelevant. There is no pre-defined period during which horses start to recognize me as a point of reference and thus trust me enough to play with me. To begin with, I only communicate from the ground and complete freedom and when a feeling grows, I start with bareback work, using just a collar. Once the bond i strong and the feeling immediate, we move together, often riding on the seashore with no tack. I spend many hours with my horses in silence and during nigh time: precious moments during which our feeling and relationship grow even stronger.
No impositions, no forcing. Horses chose to be with him: indeed, it is not rare during shows to see horses happily buck, move away and return or playfully roll over, clearly indicating a state of peacefulness and trust.
My main goal – continues Santi – is for the horse to maintain his nature, feel free, happy and play when with me. It happens sometimes to work with horses who have been traumatized by previous bad breakings or by hard masters. With this type of horse one must always exercise calm and patience, conducting brief training sessions and pause as soon as an even small result has been obtained.
My Lusitano Cesar, for example, had been victim of severe abuse and he was terrified by man upon arrival. I left him all the time he needed to recover confidence and showing him he could trust me. Cesar has become one of my favourite companions: he is indeed a great artist. And what can I say about Nika, my incredibly intelligent Arabian? We have such a strong bond of love and friendship that she is actually jealous of me. Horses are able to let go of their fears and traumas and go back to trust us: they can treat us to priceless emotions, intimate moments which are more valuable than any victory. Difficult horses don’t exist: people are difficult and horses pay for human errors.
The true game changer is the relationship between man and horse established when it is still a foal, which enables the horse to tackle any situation.
Yes. A show horse must have a strong character and a big personality – states Santi – He must be brave and strong minded. There are traits acquired of the first contact with man is the right one; if, instead, the horse is abused or badly trained, it will lose its spontaneity and will become shy and fearful. When communication and entente are there, the horse will not fear the audience, clapping and the chaos of the surrounding environment.
How do you choose the horses to work with?
I like all horses, I chose them by feeling. Sometimes, instead, if I see horses having problems, badly treated or unhappy, I take them home with me so they can have a chance at a better life. I like all horses, I chose them by feeling – Santi tells us – Sometimes, instead, if I see horses having problems, badly treated or unhappy, I take them home with me so they can have a chance at a better life.
Leopadrs, horses, wolfes, hawks, peacocks: your home hosts animals who are at the opposite ends: preys and predators, and all live freely.
What I wish to convey during my shows is that different species of animals can live together, cohabit without aggression and in peace, if treated well and respected in their natural rules. I want to bring forth in the world the message that animals are never a threat. It is man who make them so, with his aggressiveness and lack of respect. It is easier than we think – and do – with animals. If we keep it simple, using common sense and sensibility, the horse will learn easily and serenely