Legend of the breed: Rocky Mountain Horse Choco Dock dies at 35

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Choco Dock (March 25, 1987- April 19, 2022).
Choco Dock (March 25, 1987- April 19, 2022). © Tipton Mountain Horses

One of the most popular sires of the Rocky Mountain Horse breed has moved on to greener pastures at the grand old age of 35.

Choco Dock died at Tipton Mountain Horses in Stanton, Kentucky, after an illustrious showing and breeding career.

Trainer Derick Tipton told local news outlet Lex18  that Choco Dock was “the best of the best”.

“He’s what Secretariat was to thoroughbreds or Michael Jordan was to basketball. He was to the Rocky Mountain what they are,” he said.

The stallion had been with Tipton for the past 23 years. “I can remember going to pick him up and I was still in disbelief. I was picking up the greatest Rocky Mountain Horse of all time,” Tipton said.

“He never disappointed me, either. I have told several people over the years the feeling you would get when you pointed him towards a show ring gate. It was like flipping a switch and you knew you were about to get all he had.”

Choco Dock won two International Grand Championships under saddle, a grand championship in hand and the Sam Tuttle Memorial Award, bestowed by the Rocky Mountain Horse Association for the best open horse at its international show over seven classes including conformation, saddle and trail obstacle classes.

Choco Dock was a champion show horse, and sired many winners.
Choco Dock was a champion show horse, and sired many winners. © Tipton Mountain Horses

Choco Dock sired 486 registered Rocky Mountain offspring, including many champions.

The Rocky Mountain Horse was developed in Kentucky, but despite its name, it originated not in the Rocky Mountains, but instead in the Appalachian Mountains. The breed is known for its preferred “chocolate” coat color and flaxen mane and tail, the result of the relatively rare silver dapple gene acting on a black coat, seen in much of the population. It also exhibits a four-beat ambling gait known as the “single-foot”. Originally developed as a multi-purpose riding, driving and light draft horse, today it is used mainly for trail riding and working cattle.

The breed was originally developed for general use on the farms of the Appalachian foothills, where it was found pulling plows and buggies, working cattle and being ridden by both adults and children. The breed’s gait and disposition make it sought out by elderly and disabled riders.

In 1986, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association was created to increase population numbers and promote the breed; there were only 26 horses in the first batch of registrations. Since then, the association has, over the life of the registry, registered more than 25,000 horses as of 2015, and the breed has spread to 47 states and 11 countries. The Rocky Mountain Horse is listed at “Watch” status by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, meaning that the estimated global population of the breed is fewer than 15,000, with fewer than 800 registrations annually in the US.

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