Pint-sized eventing superstar Sir Rockstar first captured the hearts of eventing enthusiasts in 2014 when he and his rider, then 22-year-old Libby Head, nailed a top-20 result in their first CCI4* appearance at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Despite a trip to the French four-star at Pau getting sidelined later that year, their fairy tale continued at Badminton in 2015 thanks to a bit of grit, determination, and the $10,000 Essex Grant. Not one to stray from tradition, “Rocky” again jumped his heart out to make Libby the highest-placed 25 and under rider.
An unlucky fall at Burghley later that year thwarted their chance at a third four-star completion and, fans wondered, what now for the little superstar? At 18, he had truly reached the ultimate highs of the sport and had given Libby a ride of a lifetime.
“Rocky came out this year and did the Intermediate at Red Hills and was great at his first time out since Burghley. We kind of had plans to go to Rolex, so we did Advanced at Poplar in March, and he had two uncharacteristic stops in show jumping, so we were eliminated,” Libby explained. “He hasn’t stopped in the nine years I’ve had him so it made me step back and see what I really wanted to do with him this year because he is 19.”
Libby was confounded with a difficult decision. Her longtime partner, who wasn’t showing any physical limitations, was suddenly saying no.
“He has nothing at all to prove, so I started thinking of leasing him out to teach someone else how he taught me. I didn’t really want to say the ‘R’ word either, so this was another option,” she said, knowing Rocky truly wasn’t ready for the dreaded ‘R’ word: retirement. Wheels began turning to find Rocky a more appropriate job as he neared his twilight years.
Conveniently, at the same time that Libby was considering sharing her super special guy, Erin Jarbo, a teammate of Libby’s from the University of Georgia Eventing Team, was looking for a catch ride for the USEA Intercollegiate Championships.
“He’s one of those horses that you don’t have to be a four-star rider to ride him, and my friends have ridden him all the time, so I wasn’t hesitant to have someone lease him. I thought he would be his normal self and take care of someone,” Libby continued.
And thus, a new partnership was born and Erin had her chance at her own ride of a lifetime.
“It’s been pretty amazing to ride something that’s so experienced. My first impression was that I walked and trotted and he felt like a normal horse, but then I cantered and I was like, ‘Whoa! This is why he’s a four-star horse!’” Erin beamed. “His canter is so powerful and has so much jump to it. He’s fun on the flat and has tricks I’ve never been able to school before.”
Though Erin returns to the USEA Intercollegiate Championships at the Virginia Horse Trials this weekend as a defending champion, she’s keeping the focus on having a fun and successful experience with her new ride. “My main goal is to finish on my dressage score whatever that may be. Hopefully it’s a good one!” she smiled.
Rocky hasn’t competed at Novice level since 2008, but we’re pretty sure he’ll happily show his new jockey the ropes. If you’re at the Virginia Horse Trials this weekend, be sure to give a big cheer (not during dressage!) for EN’s 2014 Horse of the Year, Sir Rockstar.