Fernando Cardenas, DVM
Roots and Wings
A: The horse, of course. The horse is the driver.
Q: What grounds me?
A: My family.
But it is not all about me.
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From my first backyard pony, “Pildorita”, to my most recent mount or my most recent patient, and every horse in between, the horse is the driver. Whether delivering a healthy foal, healing a lame limb, improving performance, prolonging a healthy life, or jumping 1.60 fences, yes, the horse is the driver, but no, it is not all about me.
Let me tell you two little personal truths:
1. “It’s in the genes”, and.
2. “It takes a village.”
Yes, I was born with a horse-person gene from my father, his father, and his father before him, but getting to enjoy partnership with the horse every day for a living and a life, has required the support of “the village”: my amazing teams at home, in the Clinic, and in the ring. Read on.
From steering the wheelbarrow as a child to steering 3H as Practice Owner, the horse has been the driver, leading me to take the small steps every day that make 3H a better place. Every time we achieve that, happiness is the by-product. I also honestly believe that our 3H clients want the same thing, and trust our 3H team to deliver on their desire for a healthy partnership with their own horses. The bottom line? When our horses are healthy and happy, we as owners, veterinarians, riders, breeders and trainers are all a little happier, too.
My dad, (at 81 years of age!), not only still owns and operates 3H Equestrian Center in Florida, but he still confidently rides horses every day, and is up at the crack of dawn to feed his herd of 50. The horse is his driver, too. And we, as his family, have been “his village”. My entire family of origin was my first village / team, too. Long before vet school riders were beating me in the ring, so together we sought how to change that. In 1987 with next to zero capital, we dared to dream that if we could improve breeding… and prevent or heal injuries … we, too, would one day be in the winner’s circle. The sky’s the limit, we reasoned. With better equine bloodlines from Europe and hard work in America, our dream would be within reach. We made the move from Colombia, S.A. to the USA with only three top quality equines. By 2015 the proof was in the pudding: two horses out of those first imports starred in the 2015 PanAm Games and were 2016 Olympic contenders. By 2022, my dad was a top breeder in the US.
All the while, having better horses to ride had been the driver. Keeping them sound and conditioned however, had required something else along the way: vet school and innovative rehabilitative technology. Without the support of the amazing 3H Teams at the Clinic and in the show ring who join me on the path to “make it better” because the horse deserves it, my story would not be what it is today.
But make no mistake: work-life balance is key for me. It’s a complicated dance, this balance. Yes, the horse drives me forward as veterinarian and rider, but it is the everyday parenting of our child that grounds me. Roots and wings are a good thing. Thank you, Hollis!