by James and Suzanne
Sir Macho’s Hard Rock, a
chocolate stallion with a flax mane and tail, won the 2005
International Grand Championship as a three-year-old for owner’s
James and Suzanne Sanders.
Rock is by a son of Choco
and out of a daughter of Choco Dock. They purchased him from Nelson
and Debbie Ashcraft, and immediately began slow and easy training
with the young stallion. The Sanders knew he had something special
from that first October night when they purchased him. His easygoing
personality, natural gait, and love of people made working with him
a pleasurable experience. He was broken to ride as a two-year-old,
and taken to two shows in Florida where he finished second in both
classes as the youngest horse against 15-20 older horses.
The Sanders were in Florida
when they met trainer Vernon Stamper. Stamper was judging Mountain
Horse classes in an all-gaited show. The Sanders were so impressed
with his judging that after the show they asked if he would be
interested in having Rock in his barn. "Bring him to me and we will
see how he does," Stamper replied.
kept Rock over the summer pointing him toward a couple of big shows.
He consistently won his classes, both under saddle and in
conformation. The consensus was to have him peak at the 2005 KMSHA
International that October. Peak he did. Rock finished either first
or second in all of the preliminary classes at the International.
Because he was so young, the Sanders opted to show him in only the
conformation championship class.
In the championship venue,
Rock stood like a gentleman in a large mixed class, and showed off
his fantastic conformation. After a lengthy decision, the Sanders
heard his name called as the 2005 KMSHA International Conformation
Grand Champion. They were in absolute shock. A three-year-old,
lightly shown, owned by relative newcomers from a small Texas farm,
and exhibited by a trainer who almost never shows conformation, had
just won a major championship.
When questioned after the
show, Stamper humbly said, "He (Rock) is one of the finest examples
of a Mountain Horse I have ever seen." He would certainly know as he
has shown seven International champions. Even though he almost never
shows halter, Stamper proudly said, "You only get one or two like
Rock in your career."