(Photos Courtesy of Carol Dover)
Meet Shirocco, a 2008 dark bay gelding by Sandro Hit out of the mare Lana (Lancer II/Landgraf I/Ladykiller), bred by Inge Wencek and owned by Carol Dover of Havana, FL.
Rocco, as he is affectionately known, came into Carol’s life after she lost her last Hanoverian. Although she always had warmbloods, Carol became fascinated with the Spanish breeds. Envisioning her perfect new dressage partner, Carol dreamed of a smaller Spanish horse, a bit older, with smooth gaits. However, Carol’s trainer, Jodie Kelly, urged her to stay with the warmbloods. Owner and trainer struck a compromise: Carol would start horse-shopping by looking at warmbloods in Holland and Germany before travelling to Spain, where Carol was certain she would find her little Spanish dream horse.
However, Fate had other plans. Walking into one German barn, Carol locked eyes with Rocco. As she recalled, “This beautiful Rhinelander could not take his eyes off me – nor could I take mine off him.” Instead of a little, older Spanish horse, Carol returned home from her horse-shopping trip with a 17-hand, 6-year-old Rhinelander.
Rocco had undeniable presence and another quality that attracted Carol: For just a youngster, he seemed to be an “old soul.” However, Carol admits that their new partnership did face its share of challenges. When Rocco arrived in Florida, the “old soul” experienced some culture shock, as his life shifted from the relative quiet of an indoor schooling arena to the hubbub of the outside world with all its chaos, including golf carts, trucks and trailers. Carol says, “We have had some rocky moments. After being bucked off a few times, the jury was out as to whether I could keep him.” With the help of Carol’s trainer, Jodie, and a season spent in Wellington, Rocco had the opportunity to grow up. Happily, at the end of the season, Rocco had progressed to the point that Carol herself began to show the young gelding. The pair had great success, qualifying for the Regional finals at First Level.
In spite of the growing pains they endured together at the beginning of their partnership, Carol says she truly loves Rocco. She describes him as “the funniest horse in the barn. His personality is like none I have ever seen. He has learned to ring a bell for a treat; he constantly makes us laugh, and everyone says the barn is never the same when ‘Dennis the Menace’ is gone!” Carol adds, “He is special”. Truly, it does seem that Carol and Rocco have a bond that is just that.
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