Rooted: Rohara and Rannenberg 30 Years

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Rooted: Rohara and Rannenberg Thirty Years of Commitment ... Thirty Years of Accomplishment by JEFF WALLACE and THERESA CARDAMONE

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pproaching Rohara Arabians, the seasoned visitor feels a familiar sense of anticipation that comes with the freedom of leaving the Ocala city limits. It is as if one has suddenly “broken the sound barrier” between urban and rural … you are in horse country now. The comforting oak trees embrace you, their Spanish moss swaying in the breeze like delicate lace curtains genteelly tattered by time. There is tradition. There is stability. Entering through the stately wrought iron gates, the feeling of coming home is palpable. There is timelessness to this place that speaks of commitment and continuity. It is almost as if the fragile moss has captured your troubles in a cleansing caress as you entered. It is a peaceful place that nurtures the heart and the spirit. The roots of the thousand oaks that dot the property run deep, and so does the exemplary partnership Roxann Hart and John Rannenberg have nurtured at Rohara for the last 30 years.

John and Roxie have a very special relationship, having lasted 30 years. There is trust, loyalty and friendship between them that extends to their clients. When I think of “Team Rohara,” I remember the good times we had at horse shows, and the many champions we have bred and shown; starting in 1990 at Louisville with Good Thunder’s championship in pleasure driving, and all the umbrellas opening in the stands, and continuing with many others: Rohara Moon Storm, RA Dark Town Strutter, and Rohara Americanlegend to name a few. Now, Rohara Morng Glory NA by Forever After, Region 12 Champion Filly, and our new rising star Rohara Monarch, by Montana Firenze, will create new lasting memories. I look forward to continuing this relationship with John and Roxie. You are not just a client at Rohara; lasting friendships are made there. —Barbara Jarabek

While most of the horse world scratches its collective head in amazement at such incredible longevity, Roxann and John are happy to acknowledge this milestone, with every expectation that there will be another 30 years hence. Among the keys to their success is their respect for one another and appreciation of similar values. As Roxann puts it, “After 30 years, I still find joy in the relationship, which is not a given in any situation. It is always special to go down to the barn and watch John with the clients and horses. I enjoy having him represent Rohara.” The feeling is mutual, says John, “Thirty years with Karl, Roxann and the Rohara family is a celebration of a truly committed relationship. It is unique in this day and age for any relationship to last 30 years, even a marriage,

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Roxann (Ravlin) Hart on Rafflingle Mesaoud.

Rohara and John R. have been part of the Sheehe family history since we moved to Miami in 1978. Our move was a direct result of Phil meeting Karl Hart a year earlier while working on a Federal case in South Florida. I first met Roxie, appropriately, at a horse show at Tropical Park in Miami; and our first experience in Miami was a BBQ at the farm with Karl’s great mushrooms and Roxie’s fruit cocktail cake. Our girls basically grew up with Rohara. Our first daughter, Johanna, was born in 1979 and Karl had her up on a horse before her legs were long enough to straddle one. In 1983, we were so saddened when Karl and Roxie moved their farm to Ocala, but that was also the year our second daughter, Brooksley, was born, and we asked Karl to be her godfather. It was just a matter of time before Roxie sold us a horse. She convinced us to invest in Tsultans Tsunrise (“Sunny”), in the mid 80’s and our involvement with John R. began. He was showing Sunny at the Canadian Nationals in the summer of 1985 and we took a family vacation to Canada to watch. A budding gymnast at the time, Johanna fell completely in love with the horses and the idea of having her own. Roxie to the rescue! Johanna’s 7th birthday was a horse named Le Carle Futura. As all young riders have to learn, blue ribbons don’t come easy. At one particularly difficult show, we asked John to step in and talk to her about winning, losing and sportsmanship. As John was giving her a little pep talk, she was sitting next to her dad, pinching his leg and hanging on every word John said. And then there was Eternal Love … and then, Everlastin Love— Ellie and Eddie. Both bred and trained by John. Johanna and Brooksley each won multiple championships on Ellie, but it was Eddie that was the horse of a lifetime. The trophy that John won unanimously with Eddie in 2000 in Half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure Open is enshrined in our home along with the picture of me holding the trophy, and Barbara, John’s mother, holding the ribbon. Our association with Rohara and John R. has truly been a family affair. We congratulate them on 30 years of success and we are grateful for having been a part of it. From mushrooms to memories … thanks! —The Sheehe Family

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John Rannenberg in 1969.

and certainly not a job like this. So, how have we been able to sustain it? Respect. I know in my heart that Roxann believes in me and trusts me. I was the ambassador of the farm because it was a good fit for both of us. If it was not the right personality fit, there could have been a power struggle, but Roxann never felt threatened. She trusted me with a loose rein and the responsibility that came with it.” Although in slightly different eras, both started with horses early in life, Roxann at the tender age of 4 and John at 6 or 7. Both took riding lessons at local stables, soaking up every bit of knowledge about horses and how to care for them that they could, before becoming horse owners themselves. As Arabian aficionados, they both spent many midnight hours haunting the show grounds. “When I started going to the shows, Buck Grass was an unsuspecting mentor,” Roxann remembers. “I used to watch Gene LaCroix and Sheila Varian schooling their horses at night to try to pick up things I could try myself. I thought, I might as well learn from the great ones!” After high school, John began apprenticing under some of the top trainers of the day, determined to make a successful life with Arabian horses. When Kenny Rogers employed John for his Beaver Dam Farms in Colbert, Ga., Roxann and John began to cross paths more frequently at regional horse shows. Roxann’s interest was piqued when John consistently won with horses that she thought were not as deserving as her own. She decided to observe him more closely to see if he would be a good fit for Rohara. When asked to state their best joint business decision, John responds, “Life is full of decisions, and being able to recognize what is the right choice. Our best decision was the one we made together in 1985 when our journey began.” Adds Roxann, “John almost blew the interview when he asked me about my commitment to the breed. After all that I had accomplished, I was irked!” John remembers weighing the question


Roxann Hart with Emenee and Bemi Valentine. Volume 46, No. 1 | arabians of the southeast • 41

John Rannenberg competing in the Tevis Cup in 1985.

Roxann Hart, being one of the best minds for breeding Arabian horses in the world, combined with John Rannenberg’s talent to train and present those offspring in a magnificent way, makes this alliance unbeatable. Roxann and John, you are an inspiration. We love you! —Marikate and Mark Matthews

These days it is highly unusual for someone to work at the same place for 10 years, let alone 30, in almost any line of work. We would not be surprised if this is a record in the Arabian horse business. It is a remarkable accomplishment, and a testament to John’s dedication, strong work ethic, great talent, and integrity. —Lank and Karen Havice, Magnum Arabians, Williston, Fla.

Karl and Roxann Hart, John Rannenberg and Rohara, have been part of my life since their association began. Our love for the horses has made us best friends and wonderful partners in any horse adventure. John is always the gentleman; honest and so talented—a true horseman that excels in every discipline. He truly loves the Arabian horse and is dedicated to Rohara and its success in showing and breeding. It is a true rarity for any trainer to have maintained the same relationship for 30 years—a record for sure! —Faydelle Schott

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John Rannenberg and Multi-National Champion Good Thunder.

beforehand, “Even in my younger years, I was fully aware of how things in the horse business were ever changing, with training stables in flux and a shrinking pool of private farm jobs. I wanted to know directly from the Harts that they were in the business for the right reasons and for the long haul.” Eventually, a deal was struck that brought John Rannenberg to Rohara permanently. They have never looked back. The ensuing years, or more appropriately, decades, have been full of experiences that continue to strengthen their partnership. In the process, they have gotten to know and appreciate each other for who they have come to be. “Over the years, I have seen John grow personally,” Roxann says. “For example, he now understands some of the worries and concerns that Karl has, which baffled him in the early years. That has transformed the depth of his knowledge about what it takes to run the farm, now and going forward in the future.” For his part, John has come to understand things about Roxann that aren’t obvious to the casual observer. He explains, “She can seem shy when meeting someone for the first time. But, if you want to get to know the real Roxann, my suggestion is to visit Rohara and see her life’s work. She’s driven, determined and a pioneer in the industry and is very proud of her ROxannHARtArabians.” Roxann’s innovative ideas have always been decades ahead of her time. Today, most of the leading sires and champions have potent, globalized pedigrees; but in the past, horses that weren’t considered “pure” something or “straight” something-else, held less dollar value. Roxann colored outside the lines to produce the best possible next generation. Like a painter selecting the perfect dash of pigment from her palette, she combined strains to create her masterpieces, regardless of the naysayers. She remembers a favorite moment when that determination to hold true to her beliefs played out in her favor. Despite being advised that only “pure Polish” horses would bring top dollar, Roxann consigned her homebred Rohara Baskaa, who was not pure Polish, to a prestigious auction at Lasma Arabians in Scottsdale. Added to the anticipation before the sale was a little personal drama. “My father didn’t approve of my horse business and had no problem telling me so. He threw down a challenge,


Roxann Hart and RA Dark Town Strutter.

Roxann and Karl Hart with A Lyrica and Aalusive Bey.

saying I would never make any money selling horses. The call I made to tell him that I had just sold Rohara Baskaa at auction for $475,000 was a very sweet phone call, indeed!” John agrees that staying true to a similar inner compass is crucial. That similarity has kept their longtime relationship fertile. “One of the biggest challenges is maintaining a rhythm and credibility,” he explains. “It is being consistent in who you are, what your ethics are. It’s being true to yourself, being loyal, being honest.” The deep involvement and collaboration that has been so successful for Roxann and John has provided them with a strong foundation built upon trust and understanding. John appreciates the totality of the experience, “Way more than just a job, it’s been my passion and lifestyle for more than half my life and I am very grateful for it. How lucky am I that I get to look out the window of my home and see the beauty of Rohara and the grazing mares in lush green pastures? I am very, very lucky.”

Roxann Hart and Rohara Marc Twain.

Roxann agrees, “Every time I come back to the farm it is like I am entering Adventureland. I never know what I may find. While I was walking on the property today, I found a nesting Sandhill crane! They are rare around here, but the atmosphere is always full of untapped potential.” Thirty years of relationship building has been fertile ground not only for John and Roxann, but also for the clients and friends that they have cultivated. The Arabian community is very much an extended family, reuniting frequently at shows and events held all around the globe. There is always a familiar face, even far away from home.

Roxann Hart and WCF Lady Liberty.

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John Rannenberg and I grew up together in the Arabian business, each of us blessed to be building our futures working with the horses that we love. Over the years, I have come to see him as the uniquely talented and gracious person that he is. It is my opinion, that John is the most versatile horseman in our breed today. His horses are always happy, healthy and ready to win across many disciplines, and his ability to connect with them, as well as people, has led to his long-standing relationship with Rohara Arabians and the Hart family. The mutual trust, loyalty and abiding friendship that they have cultivated, is the kind of partnership that is the foundation of this business. On a personal note, one of my favorite memories is when John—a representative for sponsor Kenny Rogers’ Beaver Dam Farm—presented the award for 1982 United States National Champion to my beloved *Padron for the final jewel of his “Triple Crown.” —David Boggs

Roxann and John have a gift for attracting clients who enjoy each other’s company and appreciate each other’s horses as part of the same team. The Rohara barn is all about the fun and camaraderie that develops with the right mix of people and horses. John is successful because he cares about the clients and their horses. He provides a ready ear for concerns, an ability to coach, and a toolbox full of training skills that he applies with the talent of a master. Those qualities, along with his penchant for winning, are what drew the Harts to John in the first place. They are the reason that the Rohara horses are always finely tuned and ready to win. If they had to, they could even show themselves! Aalusive Bey did just that to win the title of 1994 U.S. National Champion Mare at only 3 years of age. John shares one of his and Roxann’s favorite horse show moments, “It was finals night at Freedom Hall in Louisville, and there I was on the green shavings, in a black tux, showing Aalusive Bey to a packed house. I walked up to the judges with confidence, leading the stunning grey filly. I turned to stand her up and as I raised my right hand over my head, the whip went flying out of my hand through the air, landing eight feet behind me! At this point, Roxann, my mother, and all of the other Rohara fans gasped, thinking I’d purposefully dropped the whip. It just wasn’t done back then. Aalusive Bey never missed a beat or dropped an ear. She was like a top bird dog on point out in the field! I just kept showing her like I was directing a symphony. As the filly continued to give me her heart and soul, the crowd, now realizing what had happened to my whip, got behind her and raised the roof in that ring! Now, that was a special moment in time for me, for Rohara, the filly, and her owners Resting S Ranch. Who knows, maybe I’m the one who started the trend!” Aalusive Bey is a perfect example of one of the ways that John and Roxann complement each other. While they both gravitate to the same kind of horse, John likes to see them when they are fully turned out, while Roxann is able to see raw potential. They remember the John Rannenberg with Aalusive Bey.

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Roxann Hart and son Jon with WCF Lady Liberty.

Roxann Hart and John Rannenberg with Ivanhoe Tsultan.

first time that John set eyes on Aalusive Bey. Roxann had purchased some stunning young fillies, “and one scrawny grey. But I knew what I had,” Roxann avers. John wasn’t so sure. “I thought, Roxann, what have you bought? She was a long yearling and looked really rough. I see a whole lot of work ahead; she sees what I can do with the raw material.”

open mare championships at Scottsdale as a two year old . . . the only time that phenomenon has occurred.

What he did was transform the duckling into such a magnificent swan, she swept both the junior filly and

Thirty years of seamless success at Rohara has become an example of what is attainable in the Arabian business. Roxann and John plan to keep traveling the same path, confident that it will continue to bring them joy. As John puts it, “Today, Rohara is strong and still committed to creating beautiful and useful Arabian horses that are sought by people from all over

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Rohara Arabians ... 5-time Readers' Choice Award winner and APAHA Breeder of the Year.

It has been an honor knowing Roxann and John. Two better people you will not meet. With their talents combined, I have learned so much from both of them, and their friendship I will always treasure. —Linda Musso

John Rannenberg ... Readers' Choice Versatile Trainer Award winner and 7-time APAHA winner.

the world. We will strive to continue to earn the respect that it takes to be leaders in this industry. We are blessed with the support.” The trees form a canopy as you drive away. There is an awareness that you have been to the core of what makes the Arabian horse business thrive. It is the steady pursuit of perfection, tempered with love, trust and friendship. You are certain, as you pass through the gate once again, that Roxann and Karl Hart and John Rannenberg, have built a sustainable model that will be here for the next generation to enjoy. Roxann, Rohara, Rannenberg … these three “R’s” will undoubtedly continue to recommit and redefine themselves into the next 30 years. ■

John Rannenberg with *El Nabila B and Rohara Aria Spartan. 46 •

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