Man of Many Passions

As a dual citizen of Colombia and USA, Fernando remains loyal to both. He owns and operates 3H Equine Mobile Veterinary Clinic as an American veterinarian with FEI international treating veterinary certification, while competing internationally as a show jumper, for his native Colombia.

As the first born to an accomplished equestrian father, Fernando was in the saddle before able he was able to walk. The family immigrated to North Carolina in 1987 where he temporarily relinquished his childhood Olympic dream for seven years in order to attend NCSU and become an equine veterinarian. Fernando still maintains a close relationship with his dad who has always been his primary coach and with the family breeding farm in Florida.

As Practice Owner and lead veterinarian for 3H Equine Hospital and Mobile Veterinary Services, Fernando has an ever-increasing commitment to rebuild his home, clinic, rehab facility, stables and ring after the 2021 fire. He is an active participant in VMG (Veterinary Management Groups) and TAB (The Alternative Board) for ongoing focus and improvement of 3H as a business.

As a dad, Fernando will tell anyone: “Make no mistake: It’s Hollis that gets me out of bed every morning, ready for a new day. It’s Hollis that puts the biggest smile out of my face when I come home at night. It’s Hollis that reminds Meredith and myself: we won the Lottery because Hollis is priceless.

It Takes A Village

By Fernando Cardenas, DVM

Common sense says it takes “a village” to raise a child.
Less common knowledge (yet equally true), is that equestrian show-jumping requires “a team”. Unlike ball sports on the court, horseback riding in the arena is viewed as a “solo-sport”. Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. Yes, our spectators see only a single rider enter a nearly silent ring on horseback, but no rider gets to the end gate on his own. More often than not, five minutes of performance require at least as many people behind the scenes.

For this, I am not just grateful but indebted. I’m surrounded by priceless volunteers, including unsung family, friends and colleagues who help and encourage in ways untold so that I can have the privilege of five minutes of single-focus with single steps. My hands-on inner circle is a small one: a team in clinic, and a team in the ring. These individuals have taught me the very definition of TEAM, by their own example. Specifically, my dad, Fernando Cardenas, sr., is the accomplished equestrian, who has bred most of the horses I ride. He continuously shares an ever-impressive body of horse knowledge, garnered from a lifetime of dedication to the sport. Similarly, my trainer and coach, Manuel Torres, has elevated his passion for horses to the level of 5-time Olympian. My staff works tirelessly six days a week to run 3H vet, caring for, conditioning and rehabbing our horses. We distinguish ourselves from other vet practices by our team approach. Finally, I rely equally heavily on the awesome individuals who accompany me to shows. Far more than horse-handlers, grooms, rig-drivers, administrative assistants or a reliable jump crew, these people are my friends. No words can contain my gratitude.

To love your work and love the people you work for is a privilege. Some never get such a “chance” because chance, itself, is a funny thing. Is chance a lucky break or a matter of timing? A series of fortunate events and coincidences, or the predictable result of hard work? No one knows for sure, but scoring a win together puts broad smiles on all the faces in our time. Similarly, through thick and thin, they have been there and gone the distance, especially during the disastrous fire that threatened to destroy us. It did not; it could not because our teams held strong. I know, too, I can never compensate them for all they deserve. They continue to be involved every step of the way, often leaving home before daylight only to get up and do it all over again the next day. But make no mistake: it’s not just the winning that gets them out of bed in the morning. These teams are comprised of those precious few who love the horses so much that their joy, like mine, is in seeing the horses excel, too. 3H boasts of Patient Superstars in the Clinic, and nobody out-cheers us in the ring.

In some ways, we are like the very horses we serve. The horses do an awful lot of hard work (approximately 40 jumps in every grand prix class), meet every challenge (rarely training at home over 1.50 fences) and they take “a lickin” (bruises and muscle strain on occasion). The horses do it all for a few carrots and apples! We do it so we can love what we do and continue to grow as a team.

PS: I want to believe the horses love their “village”, and their jobs, too.

How to Spell “LUCKY”? – 2016

Yes, I’m lucky, and I know it.

Maybe my Irish grandfather has something to do with it.

I’m lucky to have grown up in the competitive horse environment, able to ride as often as I wanted…which was everyday.

Yes, indeed, I’m lucky to have Quincy as my partner. I may believe in childhood dreams including the Olympics, and even the luck of the Irish, but it is Quincy who made me a believer. He has never given me anything less than everything he’s got, and… he always asks for more. This partnership over time has been the driver for me to strategize, mobilize, and want to offer him this year as the very best year of his life, simply because he deserves it.

So, yes, again: I just got lucky 2016 is an Olympic year!

More specifically,

I’m lucky my wife and child ground me, always patiently wishing, and waiting in the wings.

I’m lucky to be an equine vet. Nineteen years of practice, and learning from equines and colleagues provide an incredible advantage in caring for Quincy, who submits to a very rigorous rehab after each show. That being said, at home, he’s just more one of the 3H gang in the broad spectrum program, rather than “something special” .

I’m lucky my dad is my trainer. I have learned from many, even from a former Olympian, but the benefits of loyalty and longevity pay huge dividends.

I’m lucky our 3H vets and entire staff are so very talented, dedicated and determined to make this Road to Rio happen for me, that I have been able to focus on Quincy during unavoidable absences from work. In fact, I trust no one more than those who stay behind, to care for client-horses and my own. Their price is time, energy, and unflagging commitment. They, in turn, are priceless to me.

I’m lucky 3H clients have committed to making enormous mutual sacrifices. In order to stick with me, they have been willing to accommodate schedules, and talk or meet after hours more often than not (when it should be the other way around, I confess). rather than simply “assume I’m too busy”. More importantly, they have trusted me as their vet. They believe me when I say, “This is just a countdown to Rio. It is temporary. Our relationship is not. We will outlast the Olympics together. I promise.”

I’m lucky my family and friends have chosen to incorporate my dream into their own. I have felt them walking every single step with me, heard them cheering even before my rides, and marveled they have found the time and generosity of spirit to “be there” with me.

I’m lucky to be half Colombian, so that I have a shot at the Olympics at all! It has been a real privilege to stand on the podium at the Nation’s Cup this year next to some of the most talented and accomplished riders in the world, and call them “my team”.

I’m lucky to have Team Quincy, who is both tireless and selfless. I can only hope they know who they are and what they mean to me, because without them, we would not be on this road to Rio at all.

I’m lucky and humbled to have so many followers, who have decided to take the chance and believe in me, many of whom I have not yet even personally met. I pray they know I do not take their support for granted. They teach me every day ….how very, very important it is to believe in the dreams of others. With any luck at all, I will become more like them.

I’m lucky, at the end of the day, those who know me at all, know I believe,

LIFE is much more about WHO we are than about WHAT we accomplish.

Being so deeply involved with horses in this lifetime, both personally and professionally, is really just who I am.

IF 2016 Rio Olympics happen for me, it will not be just a boyhood dream come true, nor the pinnacle of success. It will be the culmination of an amazing journey…the Road to Rio….which we traveled together. I could not have asked for better companions.

We’re not there yet, however. The date for finalizing entries is May 30, 2016 .

If my luck holds, Quincy’s name will be on dotted line, but he will not be alone. Quincy and I are just in this a little deeper right now, but make no mistake:

We are all in this together.

Thanks for going the distance with me.


How do I spell lucky?

G . R . A . T . E . F . U . L