Eddie Garcia has devoted the past 13 years to caring for some of the most famous dressage horses in the world.
Grooms might just have one of the least acknowledged roles in the horse industry. But in this hands-on, around-the-clock job, grooms are responsible for just about everything. For top athletes and their horses, a groom is one of the most essential — and trusted — members of their team.
That’s certainly true of Eddie Garcia, long-time groom for dressage star Steffen Peters.
A Family Affair
Eddie was born in Querétaro, a city just a few hours outside of Mexico City, into a family with a love of horses. He began honing his skills at a young age — feeding a barn full of horses, assisting with daily chores, and learning the responsibilities that would, one day, lead him to be a trusted caretaker of some of the best dressage horses in the world.
“My brother started working with horses in America,” recalls Eddie. “After a year, he said, ‘Why don’t you come work with me too?’”
And so, Eddie decided to take the leap. He worked in hunter/jumper barns across California before eventually being introduced to Steffen and his wife, Shannon. By the winter of 2006, Eddie called Arroyo Del Mar, the Peters’ farm in San Diego, his new home. “I really like working for Steffen and Shannon because they are really nice people. Steffen supports me and they are great to work for. They invite people to their house all the time and are very gracious. They’re really nice people, that’s why I like working for them.”
Now, Eddie has set down roots in California with his family — including his son and daughter. Eddie and his son bond over a shared love of soccer, one of Eddie’s hobbies, but it’s his daughter who takes after her father in her love for horses. “My daughter is 13 and she likes to ride, she takes some lessons. She comes to shows with me sometimes but she has a lot to focus on at school, she likes to try to study a lot,” says Eddie.
A Deep Bond with a “Funny” Horse
Over the past 13 years, Eddie has developed a profound connection to Steffen’s horses. In addition to tacking up the horses before their rides and cooling them out afterwards, Eddie oversees their day-to-day care.
Eddie knows the horses’ personalities like no one else. And while he gives all of them the same devoted care, he has a soft spot for one horse in particular: Legolas 92, one of Steffen’s most decorated mounts.
In 2015, Legolas and Steffen brought home the team and individual gold medals at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Legolas was also named the 2015 Adequan/USDF Dressage Horse of the Year. But at home, Eddie tells us this four-legged champion has a relaxed, even humorous personality.
“Legolas is easy to work with and nice,” says Eddie. “He’s a really funny horse. Always waiting for a cookie.”
Legolas was retired in April 2018 but when he and Steffen took to the ring, Eddie was the one behind the scenes making sure Legolas was looking — and feeling — his absolute best, enabling the star horse to compete at his peak.
An International Traveler
Eddie has a special duty when it comes to traveling for competitions. He’s the one who flies with the horses, making sure they stay cool, calm, and collected during 14-hour international flights.
Over the past decade, Eddie has traveled the world. He’s been to Rio and Aachen, to Mexico and Normandy, and just about everywhere in between.
The constant travel can be stressful, and the stakes at the competitions couldn’t be higher. Every detail has to be right — from a horse’s “luggage,” their bridle and saddle, to their passport. “I get so worried about forgetting the passports,” Eddie laughs.
But Eddie is a pro — and he and Steffen have shared numerous successes in the past several years. “I think my happiest memory was when we took the team to Rio [for the 2016 Olympic Games],” says Eddie. “Everyone was really, really nice and everybody was really excited.”
And now, with the 2020 Tokyo Games on the horizon, Eddie is excited for the Team’s prospects. “I think everybody is hopeful for Tokyo,” says Eddie. “I think we’ll have a solid team.”