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The Passing Of The Ultimate Campaigner - CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm


by Bob Funkhouser

Like several adjectives used to describe show horses, the term campaigner is overused and misused many times over. Only a few of our breed’s greatest could live up to the meaning like the recently deceased CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm did. He was 23.

Roselawn Farm of Danville, Ky., is the recorded breeder of the gelding who was sired by Tijuana Rhythm who also sired the great CH Caramba Rhythm. CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm’s dam was a Status Symbol daughter named The Secret Symbol.

Not only did CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm grow up to become one of the all-time greatest American Saddlebreds in terms of number of victories, especially at major shows, but he was also part of an even greater success story involving a grand lady and an astute trainer, both of whom loved their horse as much as life itself.

Dr. Helen Neave of Quakertown, N.J., purchased the athletic colt from Harry Harris as a three-year-old with Brian Reimer as the trainer/agent for Harris. Mike and Kathy Barlow, then of Pennsylvania, were Dr. Neave’s agents. This horse would spend the rest of his life with this group of people, a life that was pretty amazing.

CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm’s name is the first to come to mind when thinking about a campaigner because he spent his entire career on the road, meeting and greeting and defeating the best opponents in the business. That career began as a four-year-old at the UPHA Spring Premiere Horse Show where he was shown by Dr. Neave to win the ESHBA Fine Harness class and then by Barlow to win both the junior class and the Fine Harness Grand Championship. He would go on to win the championship at the UPHA Spring Premiere a remarkable seven times.

This set the stage for a lifetime of championships across the country. When he was officially retired at the 1998 World’s Championship Horse Show, CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm had amassed 140 career victories. He retired challenge trophies from Devon, Roanoke, Penn National and the World’s Championship Horse Show.

Barlow and Secret Rhythm won six consecutive Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding World’s Championships and three World’s Grand Championships. They beat the very best along the way including CH Foxfire’s Prophet, CH Be Happy, Revival, CH Radiant Success, Castle Bravo, CH Great Day’s Came The Son, CH Storm Chaser, M-Eighty and CH The Savoy, among others. He challenged and conquered them all at one time or another.

In 1992, they won the American Bankers Triple Crown Series with Fine Harness Grand Championships at Lexington Junior League, the World’s Championship Horse Show and the American Royal. The crowd-pleasing campaigner was also three-times UPHA Horse Of The Year and seven-times AHSA Horse Of The Year. People’s Choice, Best Of Breed, All-American, there wasn’t an honor he didn’t receive.

Dr. Helen J. Neave, CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm, Mike and Kathy Barlow and Neave’s great friend, Gwen Stableford, went to show after show together. They won as a team and they lost as a team, however, more often than not they were on the winning side of the coin. There was one more person that was part of the team. Denessa Harper was Barlow’s header. It was a combination that worked over and over again.

CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm was treated with the same love and care throughout his retirement that he had throughout his lengthy career. He lived out his life at the Barlows’ Buffalo Creek Farm in Rockvale, Tenn. He was buried there along with many great memories; memories that only come once in a lifetime if you are extremely lucky.

“We’ve shown that horse so many times, for so many years and I can honestly say he never gave me less than 100 percent,” said Barlow in an interview for Secret Rhythm’s dedication in the 1998 Year In Review book. “I’ll never have another one like that. I just tried to stay out of his way and let him be himself.”

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