VIRGIL TOWNSHIP – The Monte Cristo Equestrian Center will host a grand opening celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The sprawling 375-acre center at 45W050 Beith Road in Virgil Township, near Maple Park, just opened two months ago and plans a blockbuster horse show, owner Enrique Martinez said.
“We are going to have a horse show performance of musicians and horses dancing and playing live music,” Martinez said. “We will have a petting zoo and jousting demonstration.”
The cost to attend is $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 15.
The equestrian center was vacant for years before Martinez obtained it and began restoration. He said his equestrian center shares 190 acres with nearby Promise Equestrian Center of mostly pasture and crops such as hay, Martinez said.
“We have a theater with horses every month. We have training, boarding and lessons,” Martinez said. “We will have therapy horses for children with disabilities and a … wounded warrior program to rehabilitate soldiers.”
Rupert Isaacson, horse trainer and author of “The Horse Boy Method,” will do a presentation on the healing power of horses.
He also will offer a two-day workshop at the center, six hours each day, Sunday and Monday. The cost is $700 per participant or $375 for attending without riding a horse. The cost includes refreshments and lunch.
Isaacson developed a way to work with special-needs individuals – the Horse Boy Method – based on his own experience with his son who has autism.
For information about attending the Horse Boy Method workshop, call Lisa Diersen at 630-272-3077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the horses to be featured are Friesian horses originally from Holland.
“These horses are not like any other horse,” Martinez said. “They are drop-dead gorgeous.”
Martinez is a first-generation immigrant whose father was born in Mexico but raised in California, and both his grandfathers were from Spain.
“They migrated to Mexico during the Franco war during World War II,” said Martinez, referring to the Spanish Civil War and dictator Francisco Franco. “They escaped. The Mexican government gave them asylum.”
It was the family business all their lives, he said, including breeding, competitions, training and shows.
Martinez said the family moved to Illinois two years ago intending to open an equestrian center and school and share the equine cultures of other nations. The family now lives in Pingree Grove, he said.
“We used to do training and shows for national television in Mexico, but it became too hard to live there,” Martinez said. “The situation was out of everybody’s hands there, very dangerous. We shut everything down and canceled all our contracts.”