Romario, “Romeo” as we call in our barn, came into our lives 14 years ago. My wife Kim and trainer Nick Novak saw the recently imported beautiful grey gelding at a St. Louis horse show. Nick trotted him three steps and he smiled ear-to-ear, knowing he was special and needed to come to our farm. Romeo became the horse of my lifetime. He took me from the lower jumper levels to the highest amateur levels in the jumper world, winning championships and great ribbons in the local circuit as well as at storied venues like Traders Point, Kentucky Horse Park and Traverse City. He is careful and quick and was hard to beat. One of Nick’s best coaching instructions was for me to “just let him be happy.” And Romeo saved me so many times from my mistakes that we had hats and bonnets made that said what onlookers frequently commented (and certainly thought): “Oh Romeo”. But just as special as his competitive ability is his unique personality. Ashley Slade nicknamed him “the Monkey” because he, among other funny habits, would see her, slurp a gulp of water and spit it at her from his stall. He was known for shredding new blankets and leg wraps in minutes and would only travel or turn out with our daughter’s now retired small pony Timmy. He occupies the “greeter” stall at our barn so he gets first crack at treats, scratches and kisses from all our farm’s riders and families. After realizing his body would not hold up to the larger jumps and turns in the Jumper arena, Romeo switched gears and did the A/O hunters and Derbies for a couple of years. After noticing him foot sore for a period without improving, we gave him almost two years off with pasture rest. Thanks to the veterinary care of Dr. Tracy Turner and Dr. Sarah Carlson, our farriers Keith Raleigh and Doug Ostien, and the training of Mia Forbes and Marisa Bernstein, Romeo returned to the competition world as a safe Short and Long Stirrup teacher for beginning riders several years ago. Watching him win yet another Champion ribbon recently with his current rider, Olivia Anotonenko, in the Sand Ring at Mason City made us all so proud of him and marvel at the journey we have had together over the years. From the Grand Prix Ring doing the Welcome class, to the 3’6” A/O Hunters in the Main Hunter Ring, to the Sand Ring, uphill and down, Romeo loves his job no matter the obstacle and enjoys being the center of attention. If you are watching the Short Stirrup division tomorrow look for the brilliant white gelding with ears so attentive to the job at hand and the young lady with a big smile on her face!