Marcelo Guzman Recart riding Lil Rockstar, a Chilean Horse that has competed alongside Quarter Horses and Paints. • Photo by Andria Hautamaki

Chilean Trainer Reining in America

Marcelo Guzmán Recart grew up working cattle and riding nimble Chilean Horses on his family’s ranch in Central Chile. At 35-years-old, this fourth-generation huaso, which is Chilean for skilled horseman, is proud to be a Chilean cowboy. He is passionate about giving young horses a solid foundation and evaluating each horse that enters his program as an individual before directing that horse’s talents and skills towards the disciplines for which it is best suited.

One of those disciplines he increasingly competes in is reining.

In late 2018, Guzmán Recart and his wife Amparo Manhood relocated from Chile to the United States to pursue their dreams to train horses and promote the Chilean Horse outside of their home country. 

“My wife and I always wanted to live in America; there are so many opportunities,” he said. 

So, with just one bag of clothing each and two bags for their purebred Chilean Horse stallion, Lil’ Rockstar, the couple embarked on a new journey, an exciting step that builds on their previous training experience in South America. 

South American Upbringing

In Chile, Guzmán Recart grew up in a family with a passion for all things equine. In addition to breeding Chilean Horses, his mother was also active in show jumping, which led him to learn dressage and jumping from the Chilean cavalry school, one of the most important equestrian schools in the country.

Guzmán Recart is also an accomplished horseman in the sport of Chilean rodeo, an event where two riders work together to control a steer’s movements in a circular arena. After achieving national champion at both the youth and university levels, he became a multi-year Open level finalist in Chile’s prestigious National Rodeo Championships, the highest level of competition within the Chilean Horse breed association. 

During high school, Guzmán Recart was first exposed to natural horsemanship and cutting under the tutelage of Maureen Rogers and Jeff Johnson while he was an exchange student in Western Australia. In his mid-twenties, he worked in England as an assistant trainer to Lee Rutter at Oakridge Quarter Horses. 

“Riding in three continents and many countries has helped me to expand my knowledge. Learning things that you didn’t expect that you didn’t know makes you more humble,” Guzmán Recart said. “Working with trainers in the U.S. has [also] helped us to understand the culture here. All trainers have different techniques to approach the same goal, but the main thing I have learned from [trainers] in the U.S. is how they take care of the horse’s health and welfare.”

Introduction to Reining

 “In 2012, I went to an international FEI [Fédération Equestre Internationale] reining show [in Chile], and Doug Milholland [encouraged] me to me to start doing reining,” Guzmán Recart said.

That conversation sparked an interest in reining and was the beginning of his journey to seek out learning opportunities from top trainers in the United States and Europe, acquiring skills that benefited both his horses and his training program in Chile.

In 2014 and 2018, Guzmán Recart qualified for the FEI World Equestrian Games as part of Team Chile’s reining squad. Guzmán Recart and his purebred Chilean Horse stallion Lil’ Rockstar (known in Chile as Las Callanas Profanao) still hold the CRI3* FEI Chilean national record in reining with a score of 73.5. 

Marcelo Guzman Recart and Lil Rockstar, a Chilean Horse he rides in reining. • Photo by Andria Hautamaki

With Guzmán Recart in the saddle, Lil’ Rockstar started his 2019 season in the United States by competing in Novice Horse classes at the NRBC, the NRHA Derby, and Sunflower Slide. He finished the season as the Kansas Reining Horse Association 2019 Year End Novice Horse Level 1 Champion. 

In 2020, the stallion was the Central Plains Reining Horse Association Year End Open, Intermediate and Limited Open Champion. And, last year, Lil’ Rockstar earned money at Arizona’s Sun Circuit and Mother’s Day Slide before starting his preparation for the breeding season. The stallion, who has an EquiStat record of $906, will continue to show in reining events, reined cow horse and ranch riding this coming year.

Guzmán Recart, who has an EquiStat record of $1,233, said he is grateful for the support and warm welcome he’s received from many trainers in the United States.

“Horse training is all about learning and practicing. I’ve been very blessed to meet and ride with amazing [trainers] during my career. Todd Sommers in Texas taught me so much about horse care; his horses are so well trained and just immaculate,” he said. “Other trainers that have helped me [include] Andrea Fappani and Corey Cushing. They are my idols in modern reining and cow horse. Even being very busy people, they have kindly received me and helped me.”

In 2020, Guzmán Recart graduated from Al Dunning’s Accreditation Program and earned the title of Team AD Accredited Trainer. The initial training began with a series of online and video skill assessments, after which he proceeded to apprentice with Dunning at his Arizona ranch. 

“To be accredited by Al is one of my biggest achievements since he’s such a respected trainer and businessman. That’s why I moved [to Arizona], to have him as a mentor,” Guzmán Recart said. “I like his attitude towards work and his values. He’s very positive, and he’s a great coach.”

Guzmán Recart and Manhood are currently based in Wickenburg, Arizona, where they offer services ranging from colt starting to training finished reined cow horses. They also coach non-pro, youth, and para reiners as well as jumpers. In addition to working with their current clients, the couple looks forward to building their connections in the equine world.

Marcelo Guzman Recart coaches non-pro, youth and parareiners at his Arizona facility. • Photo by Andria Hautamaki

“My goal for every horse it to make them like their job and to respect the rider. My program is unique because it is constantly changing to fit the horse’s needs as an individual,” he said. “I don’t force a horse into my program; I fit my program to the horse. We want to keep helping people through horses. We love to see happy people that feel safe around our barn. Every time we train a horse, there is an owner who is investing in their dreams.”