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Who We Are

Meet Rancho Encino's team of experts passionate about creating the best possible experience for you. As specialists in this industry of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), we have made it our mission to "partner" with horses. You will learn to hear the horses in their world. It's an unparalleled student experience.

Our model for EAL is Partnering and Connecting With Horses. We impact people's lives by working through objectively driven programs while keeping the horse's welfare at the base of all we do. Therefore, we focus on ground activities rather than riding horses.

Our horses guarantee that: when I teach you, I will never judge you! I will never lie to you. I am a teller of truth as that is ONLY what I can do because of who I am. I will bring love and healing to your heart. I will offer you a way to smile, laugh, and have FUN! I promise you that this learning doesn't just stay in the arena; this is learning you will transfer into your own life! 

Our Mission

Rancho Encino Life Skills is dedicated to empowering people to discover their true abilities through experiential equine-assisted learning with a focus on problem-solving, effective communication, and leadership. 

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Meet Our Facilitators and Teachers

The horse is the teacher.  Our facilitators are there to ensure a safe environment and a positive learning experience. 


Angela Cardenas

Owner/Lead Equine Assisted Facilitator

Angela formed Rancho Encino LLC with the idea of helping others while working with horses. She saw how horses helped her daughter, Katie, and wanted to share that experience with others. So in 2015, Rancho Encino Life Skills was formed, and today is helping youth, women, and veterans.

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Katie Cardenas

Director of Training/Equine Assisted Facilitator

In 2020, Katie graduated from Baylor University and joined the family business. Together she and Angela expanded their life skills program to more locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley.  

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Dee Danielson

Trained in Equine Assisted Activities 

In the spring of 2021, Dee joined Rancho Encino Life Skills. Dee participates in our retreats and our new counseling program. Her experience in equine assisted activities combined with Angela and Katie's experience with EAL creates a highly effective team.


Sir Master Charles 


Don’t tell the rest, but Lex is the favorite child. At the height of his show career, he and Katie won many scholarships. Now he is retired and an outstanding EAL teacher. He is our oldest teacher and the best at teaching life lessons.





Age:  25 

Breed: American Paint Horse


Little Bird 


Birdie is one of the newest additions to our herd. We adopted him from the Humane Society of North Texas. Birdie loves to be groomed. He often comes out in the first few classes to help students gain confidence around horses. We think he is an excellent addition to our herd.



Age: 13

Breed: Pinto/Rescue


Premonition Picked Me


Angela raised Flower from a yearling. She was named after the skunk character in Bambi. Bambi thought Flower was beautiful, and so do we. She is one of our youngest horses in the program. We bring her in with our more advanced students. Flower will always be Angela’s baby.




Age:  12 

Breed: American Paint Horse


Aksarben Got No Fizz


Gil is one of our newest additions to the herd and one of our tallest horses! He comes to us from a local family that worked with him as a field trial horse. He is a young guy in an old man’s body and a sensitive guy. Gill is great at teaching the importance of patience.





Age: 15

Breed:  Tennessee Walking Horse


Other Romance


Crawl is a World Champion and was the horse of the year in the Pinto Horse Association. Crawl was Katie's show horse and left us for a few years to finish his show career. He has come back to us to retire and work with our clients. He is one of our oldest horses and an easygoing guy, but don't let that fool you. He is an escape artist and will do anything for a treat!




Age:  19

Breed: American Paint Horse



Apache is one of the newest additions to our herd. He came to us from a local family where the kids would love on him and ride him around bareback. He gives great lessons on how to trust. He previously lived at one of our other locations but has made it to our Brownsville location. Apache is easygoing and loves to work with our clients.





Age:  18

Breed: Appaloosa


Mamma Mia


Mia is also a newer member of our herd. She comes to us from a local roper who would rope off of her. She gives good lessons on setting and respecting boundaries. She loves to work with our clients but will set her boundaries. Mia previously lived at one of our other locations with Apache but has made her way to our Brownsville location.  





Age:  14 

Breed: Pinto

Retired Teachers


Zip Designed Me


Mimi is a World and Reserve World Champion. We think she is the most beautiful mare in the world. After years of showing, helping our clients, and gifting us with 3 beautiful foals, we have decided to retire her. Mimi likes to be with other horses and people, so she was so fun to work with. Maybe a little too easy sometimes! She will now spend her days peacefully grazing in the pasture and getting lots of love from us. 


Age: 20

Breed: American Paint Horse



Dakota came to us from a local youth rider. She is a sensitive gal and mainly worked with our adult clients. Dakota was a team player but required working with calm spirits to achieve success. After helping many women and veterans on their journey to self-knowledge, we have decided to retire her. She now spends her days grazing and caring for her babies!  




Age: 11

Breed: Grade

In Loving Memory

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ” 

-Anatole France


No Te Olvide


Patrick was Katie’s first horse. Fun fact: he was the great-great-grandson of the famous racehorse Secretariat! Patrick was a sensitive guy and used his sensitive nature to teach kids the importance of patience. Sadly, Patty has crossed the rainbow bridge and is no longer with us. He was the horse that started it all, and ignited our passion for horses. His treat loving, hay stealing, sweet and easygoing personality is missed in the barn. 




Breed: American Paint Horse

Thank You to Our Teachers

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