Citrus Heights Sentinel Logo

Meet the team at CR Circle Ranch in Citrus Heights

Michelle Solorzano with her team of coaches, three of whom are her own children. // M. Hazlip

*Note: This article is a subscriber exclusive. You must be logged into your subscription account to view this full article.

By Mike Hazlip—
Michelle Solorzano’s home on Cook Avenue, known as CR Circle Ranch, is home to a dedicated team of trick horse riders who perform throughout the year.

Solorzano balances teaching and coaching with her job as an equestrian coordinator for the California State Fair. Nu Balance Vaulting Club is the name of the competitive team, and Olympius Dream Team is the entertainment side of the team. She travels with the team to perform at county fairs as well as the State Fair each summer.

Nu Balance has six members currently, and although some of the vaulters are Solorzano’s own children, everyone calls her “Ma.”

“They say ‘Ma’ and they know I’ll answer,” Solorzano says. Team member Bali Solorzano agreed, saying her mother won’t answer to “Michelle” but will turn her attention if she hears “Ma.”

The 53-year-old says performing is a lot of hard work for the team.

“They walk the walk ahead,” Solorzano said. “They give it all, they really do. It’s not always fun, they’re changing and changing, and they’ve got wigs and hair and everything.”

Solorzano said one team member has Huntington’s disease, an inherited condition that causes a progressive decline in the nerve cells of the brain. After four years since the onset of symptoms, she says the team member is still doing remarkably well.

Another team member, Manny, has been with Nu Balance for 11 years and started with the team when he was 10. His parents are in Florida and his uncle owns a circus.

“I just had to grow up very fast and being in a circus is very tough,” Manny said. “You had to grow up and put your big boy boots on and go for the road and hope for the best and see where you end up. This is where I ended up.”

Solorzano said Olympius Dream Team is a favorite at events in Orangevale and Cal Expo, but has not yet been invited to participate in events in her home town of Citrus Heights. She hopes her team will have an opportunity to perform at Rusch Park once events resume there.

The group has separate social media pages for CR Circle, Nu Balance, Olympius Dream Team, Imperial Crown, and T-N-B Trick Riders. Each act has a different set of costumes, but many of the same riders.

When asked what the biggest challenge has been, Solorzano said finances — noting she’ll often pay out-of-pocket for expenses if there isn’t enough funds from the club. She says care and feeding for the horses takes the biggest piece of the budget, as well as maintenance of the facilities.

Top of Solorzano’s wish list is a live-in trailer and a truck. She says having a “home away from home” on wheels will save on hotel costs and enable the team to reach more places.

Even without those extras, Solorzano manages to have an impact on the team members who perform and coach for her, and she recognizes her facility is more than just vaulting lessons.

“I think I can say this for all of us, I think it’s helped us become who we are,” team member PJ told The Sentinel. His fellow team member Ariel agreed and said “I don’t know what I’d be doing if I didn’t have this in my life.”

“I think each one has a story, each one is really special,” said Solorzano. “And we never know what’s coming through the door. We know it’s not just about vaulting, that’s for sure. It’s about the kid walking through the door.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about vaulting classes can contact Michelle Solorzano at (415) 307-3580, or stop by the CR Circle Ranch at 7668 Cook Ave.

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part story. See original story here: Something special is going on at this Citrus Heights horse property

Like local news? Sign up for The Sentinel’s free email edition and get two emails a week with all local news and no spam, ever. (Click here)