Santiago Thomas, a native of Cherán, Mexico, who lives in Cobden, gazes into the distance with his horse, Zena, on Saturday during the annual Sweethearts of the Saddle Derby Day Gala at the Carterville Community Center. Thomas has been working as the barn manager at Giant City Stables for six years, but has lived in the United States since his parents brought him when he was 10 years old. “I think the horses know every language, English or Spanish,” Thomas said. “If they trust you and you have the confidence, they understand you. … Each horse has it’s own personality just like dogs and just like humans. For example, Zena likes to move a little bit more. She gets more nervous than Diva. There’s a lot of people like that too.” — May 7, 2016, Carterville, Ill.