When Rodolfo Guzzo laid his eyes on an Arabian horse for the first time, he did not wonder “if” he would be involved with Arabian horses, he wondered ‘how fast’ he could make it happen.
Rodolfo’s family had been involved with horses his entire life. They primarily raised and cared for Mangalarga Paulista, a horse breed native to Brazil. “When I was 15, my father took me to an All Breed Horse show. I saw a chestnut mare that took my breath away because she was so different than any horse I had ever seen. I told my father that I HAD to see the others of this breed. It was then that my father was introduced to Palo Levy and I was introduced to the Arabian stallion, *Lyphard. Everything changed for me in that moment. I still get goose bumps when I remember seeing him for the first time. In that moment, my life was changed.”
Rodolfo’s passion for the Arabian horse grew stronger every day, as did his quest for more knowledge. In school, Rodolfo was very involved in sports. As is the case for many, his desire to excel in sports superseded his book studies. His attendance to horse shows nearly every weekend helped Rodolfo identify an important link between horse competition and sports; hard work, dedication and commitment make ALL the difference between success and failure.
When asked which horse he first found himself emotionally connected to, Rodolfo responded, “There were a few, but my first National Champion, Shaklans Padron NA was the first truly impactful experience I had with an Arabian. David Boggs had purchased the 7-month-old colt for a client, but was not able to come to the show to present him. I worked for Haras Santa Gertrudes, Nagib Audi, at the time and was told I had to do this, and that I had to win. I remember feeling as though I was thrown in shark-infested waters because in my mind, I was too young. The pressure was intense.”
As special as that memory was, Rodolfo reflects that the horse that remains in his heart, as “the most special” is FA El Shawan. “I worked closely with Bolívar Figueredo to create a partnership to purchase him as a young colt. He was a star from the beginning and excelled in every way, even after his untimely passing. His legacy continues through his foals who are achieving international acclaim in competitions all over the world. There are so many more horses that have meant a lot to me. I represented Padrons Psyche in Brazil before Robert and Dixie North owned him. He has remained a very important horse for me.”
“I am deeply affected by moments and have experienced growth in my career as a result. For example, everything changed in my life and career when I saw Ali Jamaal for the first time.” Similar to his experience when first seeing an Arabian horse, Rodolfo recalls thinking that he had never seen an Arabian like Ali Jamaal. “My eye for a horse and how I evaluated all horses dramatically changed that day. I was accustomed to the Spanish style of horses. They were beautiful horses, but a bit ‘heavier’ in structure compared to Ali Jamaal. I was determined from that day forward to incorporate this ‘look’ of the US National Champion, Ali Jamaal in my program.”
“Sometimes I think about how fast everything happened my career. I have been very lucky and feel as though everything happens for a reason, but really, it was so fast. To have won a National Championship after just 2 years working with Arabian horses was unheard of. To then travel to the United States where I so quickly experienced success in the show ring all over the country was exciting and exhilarating, but crazy fast!”
On a personal note, Rodolfo expressed his gratitude for how he was received by his friends in the United States. “I will be eternally grateful for the support, direction and opportunities presented to me by Robert and Dixie North. They and my peers have treated me with respect and I am so thankful for that.”
After sharing his appreciation for the way he has been treated here, Rodolfo paused and began to speak of his emotional connection to the United States. His expression was soft and gentle and tears filled his eyes as he began to express what happens to him when he hears the National Anthem. “I don’t fully understand it myself, but I feel as though I was destined to be here. It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember to live in this country that I have so much respect for. I made great sacrifices to move my business and my life from Brazil and it was hard, but worth it. I feel home here.”
Those who know and have worked closely with Rodolfo will attest to his superior level of horsemanship skills. He has a deep understanding of proper diet, hoof care and varying levels of work routines to present horses at their highest potential. “I had 3 important mentors that engrained the phrase ‘a horses quality begins in their feet’, my father, Ricardo Suma and Caitano Fabrini. They taught me to take care of their feet first so that I would have a better horse in the end.”
Before pursuing his career as a horse trainer, Rodolfo dreamt of becoming a veterinarian. He traveled to farms with his family friend, veterinarian Ricardo Suma. “He taught me so much about caring for horses. I believe I learned more from the experiences I shared with Ricardo than I ever would have in school. I think this passion I felt for veterinary medicine is why I now do everything in my power to help people from Brazil who pursue their quest to become veterinarians.”
When asked what would most surprise people about who he is, Rodolfo responded, “I think people that don’t know me see me as very serious and possibly angry. The truth is, I am very shy. I am also a family man and a man of faith. I love to be with my family!” Some may be surprised to learn that Rodolfo and Natalia are driven by a desire to help, encourage and support others as they pursue their hopes and dreams. They are both giving, kind and gentle spirits who genuinely care about the needs and feelings of those closest to them.
“I am an emotional person. I am often moved to tears when I win classes because I have put so much into that moment, and have a deep commitment to succeed as a sign of respect for the people that work for me. They are passionate and driven and I owe it to them to do my best when I enter the ring. I am very proud of the teams I have built over the years and the success that many of them have experienced. I respect and understand that I would not be where I am today without each and every one of them as individuals.”
Rodolfo’s greatest hope for his two sons, Rodolfinho and Giovanni, is that they will learn from him to respect life and to be strong no matter what life has in store for them. “I want them to love what they do, and to be able to tell the people closest to them that they love them.” In a moment of vulnerability, Rodolfo shared, “I worked a lot while Rodolfinho was young. I wasn’t there for him as much as I would have liked. I am very blessed to have this second chance so-to-speak with Gio. I want to be an every day part of his life and watch him grow.”