On the Rocky Mountain Horse Association show circuit, Rockin' Dobbin was a champion.
He also was an adverting star, appearing in print and TV advertisements for Mane 'n Tail hair care products for horses.
Around children, he was "a gentle giant," said his owner Diana Medler. When he met children, especially those who were ill, he would put his head down for them to pat and for them touch his mane, which was more than 5 feet long.
In the eyes of those children, Medler could see how they wanted to be riding Rockin' Dobbin.
The children inspired Medler to write a book about Dobbin's adventures helping children during their dreams.
She will be signing copies of "Dobbin and the Stardust Trail" starting at 1 p.m. today at Hastings in Richmond. The book features colorful artwork based on original paintings by Amanda D. Olson.
Medler loves to read the story to children. Just this week, she appeared at Northeastern Elementary School in Fountain City.
"I love to see their faces... Their eyes just sparkle," she said. "The book seems to have captured the imagination of children. When they clap, that makes me feel good...
"Children are just fascinated because he was a real horse."
Children, Medler said, ask questions about the length of the horse's mane, if he was nice, if he would bite and if she rode him. They like hearing that Dobbin wanted a hug everyday.
The story also has inspired recognition. The book was chosen for the 2010 Reader's Favorite Award and also received a five-star approval rating from Reader's Favorite, an organization that rates children's books.
Sadly, Dobbin has not been able to enjoy the book's success. He died at age 17 just before the book he inspired went to print, Medler said.
Rockin' Dobbin had been part of Medler's family for a long time. She and her husband bought him from a man in Irving, Ky., and brought him to their Indian Hill Farm, which is in Randolph County but has a Williamsburg address.
Dobbin was a breeding stallion and the International Champion of the Rocky Mountain Horse Association. He also won other honors.
On the farm, Medler used the Mane 'n Tail products on Dobbin and one day decided to share his beauty with the makers of Mane 'n Tail, sending them a letter and a photo Soon, Rockin' Dobbin was the star of the company's commercials and advertisements. He remains one of Mane 'n Tail's featured horses,
"He's just kind of known around the world," Medler said. "He's getting to be kind of a legend. He lives on."
Reporter Rachel E. Sheeley: (765) 973-4458 or firstname.lastname@example.org