A Tribute To…
Spanish-Norman ‘Breed Ambassador’
From the beginning, March 27, 1992, when the new-born foal was picked up in his proud breeder’s arms, the feisty, Spanish-Norman colt was destined for greatness. Allan Hamid had eagerly awaited the arrival of the foal, sired by Hamid Hill Farm’s illustrious Andalusian stallion, Embajador IX, imported from Spain. The foal was actually born in Bridgewater, Connecticut, where his sire and dam were located at the time, at the magnificent, private facility of the late Mike Nichols.
One afternoon, having heard about the foal, a friend and neighbor of Mike Nichols dropped by the barn. She introduced herself to Allan and asked if her blind daughter could have the opportunity to touch and feel the young foal. Allan had immediately recognized Mia Farrow and silently prayed her daughter would enjoy the unique experience. The foal displayed calmness and a quiet gentleness, almost as if he understood the significance of what was happening. Later that day, Allan related to his wife Linda the heartwarming, serene scene he had witnessed. Little did Allan know then, the important, meaningful and spiritual role that the colt would play in his own life some seventeen years later.
Linda named the foal, Romantico H.H.F. Her inspiration was the colt’s heritage: Spain – Linda’s beloved, second-best country, from his Spanish sire, and her favorite flower and bridal bouquet from his Percheron dam named Gardenia. What could be more romantic?
Linda and Allan had combined their two passions: her love of Spain and his love of horses to create a life-long adventure of enriching experiences, fascinating friends, interesting places and a multitude of happy times together.
Over the years, Allan’s favorite activity was trail riding with Romantico in the lovely Litchfield County, CT countryside. A strong bond developed as both horse and rider derived pleasure in their partnership of sharing the glory of nature in all seasons.
Since just a foal, Romantico’s biggest fan was Allan’s friend and mentor, the late Bill McAllister of Rolling M Ranch, Southbury, CT. A consummate horseman and Quarter horse authority, Bill was the head of four generations whose lives were to be touched by Romantico. It was grandson Garry who became Romantico’s trainer, rider and knight in shining armor.
In the days of chivalry and pageantry, the valiant knights on their courageous warhorses thundered across the battlefields, left an indelible imprint on history and were immortalized in paintings, statues and sculptures. Romantico exemplified the attributes of the medieval knight’s charger. The 16.1h. Spanish-Norman embodied boldness, size, strength and power, combined with an excellent temperament, all the qualities essential to an outstanding performance horse. Romantico’s great presence and majesty impressed audiences.
In authentic armor, Spanish-Norman stallion Romantico and knight Garry McAllister charged across the polo field, executed battle maneuvers and entertained spectators at their popular performances at the Greenwich Polo Club. In October 1999, they competed at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio and won a 4th place medal in Freestyle Reining – Open. It was a great honor for them to compete at the June 2000 Festival of Champions at the United States Equestrian Team Center in Gladstone, New Jersey. They won a 6th place USET ribbon in the invitational freestyle reining competition.
In 2005, Breyer Animal Creations honored Romantico H.H.F. in an exclusive, special edition, collector’s horse model in fine porcelain. Invited as a celebrity horse to BreyerFest 2005 at Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park, Romantico and Garry performed daily and Allan Hamid signed the prestigious models for collectors.
Sadly, in March 2008, Allan was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with esophageal cancer, stage 4. Allan devoted himself to enjoying time with his wife and horse, his two true passions. Each trail ride on his beloved mount became a cherished delight. He felt fit, forgot he had cancer, and was happy whenever he rode Romantico.
Allan lamented that the only thing he had wanted to do in life, but never had the chance, was to exhibit his stallion himself in some public venue. The opportunity presented itself on July 19, 2008. Allan and Romantico performed at the Eastern Region Andalusian Horse Club show at the Mt. Holyoke Equestrian Center in Massachusetts. To the music of Gene Autrey’s “Back in the Saddle Again,” the two entertained the audience with a remarkable vision of rapport and harmony shared by horse and rider. It was pure pleasure to behold the incredible relationship between them. For Allan it was a thrill and a dream come true.
As Allan became weaker and more fragile, riding indoors only, Romantico took good care of him. He treated him like a porcelain doll and afforded him peace. The spiritual bond between the two was apparent to everyone.
Allan once said, “To watch a foal being born and pick him up in your arms is a joy; to raise a horse to compete at the USET Festival of Champions is an awesome accomplishment; to have your horse chosen to be immortalized in a Breyer porcelain model is a great honor; to have your horse inspire, support and comfort you during your most difficult time is priceless.“
Allan H. Hamid died on May 7, 2009. That July, the E.R.A.H.C. show was dedicated in his memory. A beautiful eulogy was delivered by long-time, dear friend, MaryBeth Horan.
Romantico stayed on with the McAllisters. He had the best, end stall in the large, new, custom barn on top of a hill with a view of the woods. Romantico was cared for and loved by Garry, his wonderful wife Tami and their children Joey and Jessica. Garry’s clients and Tami’s students treated him to carrots galore.
It was Jessica who had always wanted to ride Romantico. For years, she kept asking for permission from her father. Garry always told her: “When you’re ten years old, you can ride the stallion.” Finally, on her 10th birthday, it was time for the accomplished young equestrian to ride Romantico. What fun it was for the fourth generation McAllister to fully bond with the remarkable Romantico!
Romantico H.H.F., the Spanish-Norman ‘Breed Ambassador,’ died December 1, 2014. His presence is still felt on top of the hill, on land owned by the McAllister family for eight generations, since the Civil War.
The fond memory of Romantico will live on in the hearts of so many devoted admirers of the extraordinary, noble stallion.