Pine Meadow Farm announced on May 21 that National Show Hunter Hall Of Fame inductee Rox Dene died at 33. In her memory, we’ve republished this article about Rox Dene, which appeared in the February 27, 2017, issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.
Every once in a while, a horse comes into the world and demonstrates to everyone what a living, breathing legend looks like. In the 1990s, the gray Dutch Warmblood-Thoroughbred mare Rox Dene was just that.
By the time she was 10, Rox Dene (Aristos B—Ninety Nine, Frosty Hai) had achieved nearly every mark of greatness available in the hunter world. Year after year, she and rider Elizabeth Solter won tricolors at the Devon Horse Show (Pennslyvania), the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the Washington International Horse Show (District of Columbia) and the National Horse Show, as well as earning American Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year accolades nearly every year she showed. Through her career, she was managed by the team of Solter, trainer Rodney Bross and owner Elaine Boylen.
“When she jumped, she was a natural,” said Bross. “I have to say, she was a joy. You just had to get out of her way to let her do her thing.”
Boylen started envisioning a breeding career for Rox Dene in 1994 and 1995. But Solter asked her to wait one more year, just so the horse could experience the pomp and circumstance of the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden in New York City, which returned there in 1996 after years in New Jersey.
“It was the ultimate because Madison Square Garden was so special,” Bross said. “When you showed there then, it really felt like you arrived. You were there.”
There Rox Dene exited the hunter world with grand hunter champion, regular working hunter champion and regular conformation hunter champion titles.
“She definitely makes lots of dreams come true,” said Solter, who passed away in 2014 after a battle with breast cancer, in a 1996 interview.
And even with the changes in the hunter world since, Bross said the mare would be a winner today too.
“She, to me, was the epitome of a hunter,” said Bross. “She had a lovely way of going. She had a beautiful presence in the ring. She liked it—always had her ears up. Yeah, I’ve got to say today she would be just as successful and famous as she was back then. I’ve seen some great horses, and I’ve trained some great horses since her, but it’s just everything about her.
“I keep looking for another one, and I haven’t found one yet,” he continued.
Now 31, Rox Dene lives at Pine Meadow Farm in Vass, North Carolina, under the care of Parker and Ed Minchin.
“In her mind, she’s still the queen, and she makes sure everyone and everything runs on her timetable,” said Parker. “If you are five minutes late bringing her in, she bucks and rears and acts like a 3-year-old going to the starting gate. I give her a treat every day when I put her out and tell her it’s from Elizabeth!”
“It was an honor and a great pleasure to have had such a wonderful horse,” said Bross. “She made me look good.”
This Finish Line article appeared in the February 27, 2017, issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.
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