One of the first horses I have a distinct memory of watching on television in complete awe was this one: Calvaro V, ridden by Willi Melliger of Switzerland. The massive gray gelding was sturdy and thick – a sort of warmblood you don’t see as often today. He was fast and long strided, but he would float in air over his obstacles for what seemed like days — almost hovering in midair like a helicopter before finding the ground and galloping on, and every muscle of him enthralled me.
Calvaro was born in 1986 (Cantus x Valetta VI) in Germany, and as his sire and dam were both high quality Holsteiners, he too was a shoo-in for the big H studbook. He was the beloved partner of legendary Willi Melliger, and together the two claimed a gold at the European Team Championships in 1995, a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and a Team Silver Medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney.
Sadly, Calvaro died just a few short years later in 2003, and according to news from the time, he was mourned by the entire Swiss nation, and heaps of flowers were left at his stall by fans. While he was a gelding, his legend lives on in a less traditional way, as he was cloned more than once. The first foal was not viable, but the second — born in 2008 — is still out there somewhere and registered in the Holsteiner records.
We miss that giant gray chopper, but appreciate his legacy!