"It's very difficult to change the way Cubans treat horses," he says. "They use them like a disposable tool. They don't understand that with natural horsemanship, the horse is happy. It's willing and glad to do things. There is a joy. There is a connection."
Muñoz's current love is a 4-year-old filly named Luna de Miel — Honeymoon. We climb through a barbed-wire gate, and he disappears over a small rise. He returns a moment later astride the brown quarter horse. The affection between man and beast is evident. Muñoz dismounts and shows me exactly how trusting she has become. He tickles her ears, picks her nose, even takes hold of her thick, wet tongue.
Luna endures the routine patiently, then snuggles gamely up to me (I don't go for her tongue) while he snaps a photo. It's a cute shot, but it doesn't compare with the pictures of him with his horse. Together, they're practically a centaur.
"It really is like that," Muñoz says with a laugh when I remark on the telepathy between them. "When I drink rum, my horse gets drunk."
There is another side to Muñoz as well. Like many Cubans, he's a devout Catholic whose observances were long suppressed by the socialist regime. During my visit, though, thanks to policy relaxations by President Raúl Castro (Fidel's younger brother), Trinidad will hold a much-anticipated celebration. A statue of Cuba's patron saint — La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, or Our Lady of Charity — will be carried through the rustic streets in an emotional procession.
Muñoz has arranged the equine aspects of the event. "I am the boss of the horses," he proclaims proudly. His gifted 17-year-old daughter, Maria Carmen, will sing to the crowd.
Such observances are a sign of relaxation concurrent with Cuba's growth in tourism. But unlike the recent economic changes, this procession confirms a conviction that people here have long kept to themselves.
"After the revolution, the government tried to erase Cuban history," Muñoz says with a slight smile. "But they couldn't do it."
The next afternoon, as Maria Carmen's powerful voice fills the cathedral's plaza, I sit on a doorstep and devour yet another cubano of salty ham and gooey queso. Muñoz soon appears at the head of a noble parade, Luna de Miel his faithful mount. He nods to me, filled with pride as he guides Honeymoon through the age-old pageant.
From a visitor's vantage, it's hard to know if religious freedom is making a comeback in Cuba, or if this is a one-time easing of government restrictions. The single indisputable thing I've learned during my visit is that the country is indeed changing at a pace that alternately plods and gallops.