Cal Dorado – the golden dancing horse


From an inauspicious beginning, Cal Dorado certainly made his presence known. Given away as a 4 month old to Californian Barbara Parkening, “Flash,” as he was known by his friends, became an international star.

Cal Dorado performing during his heyday.
Cal Dorado performing during his heyday.

The purebred arabian was sired by the *Bask son Cal-OBask and born in February, 1979. With two club feet and way too much white to suit his breeder, the sire’s owner agreed to take him back. Barbara happened to go to the farm to visit Cal-O-Bask and spotted a weanling in a nearby corral. “It was love at first sight,” says Barbara.

Barbara had gotten her first horse, a half Lippizan, when she was fourteen and put her in training with the famous Circus/High-School trainer Albert Ostermaier. She trained with Albert until she started to show competitive dressage and has been training with Olympic dressage rider Hilda Gurney ever since. In the mid-eighties she earned her bronze, silver and gold medals from the USDF.

After taking on the little guy, Barbara hauled Flash long distances to receive corrective shoeing to improve his feet. Barbara recounts, “I started him under saddle and the put him on long lines. It didn’t take him long to figure things out and he taught himself how to canter on three legs, we thought that was a pretty good trick.”

This article first appeared in the June/July 2013 issue of The Arabian Sport Horse magazine, and is reprinted here with permission.

Barbara taught the gorgeous flashy chestnut how to do high school dressage movements in long lines. He would walk down the centerline on his back legs, passage, piaffe, Spanish walk, pirouette, bow and much more. She used him in her “Dancing  With Horses” traveling theatrical show.

“He could piaffe and passage all day and loved doing it,” says Barbara.

When Flash was 17, Barbara went to her friend Hilda with a plan. She asked Hilda to make him a Grand Prix horse and win a National Championship on him.

Cal Dorado with Hilda Gurney after winning his National Championship in Prix St. Georges.
Cal Dorado with Hilda Gurney after winning his National Championship in Prix St. Georges.

Hilda recalls, “First, I had to teach him lead changes, which I did. But the tricky part was getting on him – when you swung your leg over, he’d drop his head. He didn’t have a huge shoulder, so when he’d put his head down and buck there was no way you were staying on. After I got dumped a couple of times I always had someone hold his head when I mounted.”

In spite of that, Hilda says she really enjoyed him. “He wasn’t mean, he would prance and dance but he wouldn’t kick or bite or anything like that. Until the day they put him down he’d come out of the stall and he would prance and dance. Flash was always a character, very vibrant, probably the most vibrant horse I’ve ever seen. An absolutely beautiful horse.”

Hilda showed him in open shows at Grand Prix, earning scores in the 60s. In 1997, they took Flash to Albuquerque to compete at US Nationals in the highest dressage level they offered at the time, Prix St. Georges. Flash and Hilda won the class with a score of 65.93%, following that up with a dressage demonstration before a crowd of 5,000 spectators, earning a standing ovation.

Later, the years of walking on his hind legs caused him some soreness in his hocks, so he was retired from competition.

His offspring have carried on his winning legacy. Fancy Trick was trained and shown by Hilda to two National Championships in Grand Prix and one at I-2. His purebred son Aleros+/ earned a National Championship in 3rd Level, is almost ready to compete at Grand Prix this year and is planning on another trip to SHN in 2014.

Purebred son Aleros+/, a breeding stallion competing at Grand Prix in open dressage shows.
Purebred son Aleros+/, a breeding stallion competing at Grand Prix in open dressage shows.

Of Flash’s offspring Hilda says, “Aleros a really a fabulous mover. And we now have grandkids from Flash that are super movers and really talented in piaffe and passage.”

His daughter, CD Gold Fever+++/ is a 2 time Reserve National Champion in Halter with Regional wins in Show Hack. Rhythmandbluesscr+// is a multi National Top Ten winner in Dressage. MC Stars Nstripes+/ is a Reserve National Champion in Show Hack and multi-Top Ten winner in Carriage Driving and Sport Horse Show Hack. CB Endeavor+ is a Canadian National & Reserve National Champion in Hunter Pleasure. April Moonsong+ is a Reserve National Champion in Sidesaddle.

And one last foal was due in July, conceived from some frozen semen harvested from a testicle that was herniated and subsequently removed. The dam is a large Hanoverian mare who has produced one foal by Aleros already.

On April 18 at the age of 34, Flash tore the wall of his rectum while trying to pass a hard fecal ball. There was nothing the vets could do, so he was laid to rest. For an unwanted baby, he has certainly left an incredible legacy.

Cal Dorado preforming with his son, Go For The Gold.
Cal Dorado preforming with his son, Go For The Gold.

One thought on “Cal Dorado – the golden dancing horse

  • August 13, 2013 at 5:30 am

    These horses are so adorable. They deserve gold credits for that unusual talent. People should visit this place where the golden dancing horse can be found.

    I say, Go For The Gold!


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