The Guzzo Adventure

by McKay Stirland

Adventure. Whether written or lived, its origin can come from a variety of sources, circumstances or people. The Guzzo Adventure originates in a boy in Brazil, crisscrosses continents, and embraces the fabled Arabian horse. It includes all the elements of an exciting best-selling novel: drama, suspense, heroism, success and defeat, sub-plots of death and storylines of new beginnings and life itself. And then there are the characters—the people liberally sprinkled throughout that color and enhance the adventure. Far from fiction, the Guzzo Adventure remains a continuing work in progress.

The Guzzo Adventure first began in Paraná, Brazil, on Rodolfo’s grandfather’s farm. “I learned how to work hard, learned to read animal behavior and found out that people were what was most important in life,” remembers Rodolfo.

Now, more than 20 years later and traveling across the world, Rodolfo Guzzo has become an extraordinary and successful horseman and a worldwide marketing guru. His international success in the show ring is equally matched by  his marketing abilities—searching for and discovering future champions and exceptional breeding horses for small and large breeders alike.

Yet, Rodolfo is quick to acknowledge that his worldwide Adventure began by accident. “I was 15 years old and had never seen an Arabian horse,” he admits. “Can you believe it! I had never even been to a horse show. My world was pretty small. My life was simple. My father and I were best friends. He taught me not only about horses, but also about respect, character and how to live life. Looking back, I had no idea that at 15 years old I was on the edge of a life-changing adventure.” And, it all would start with a chestnut mare.

Rodolfo’s father took his son to an all-breeds horse show in São Paulo, Brazil, which included the Brazilian National Arabian Horse Show. “All the horses were beautiful,” Rodolfo recalls.  “But my eyes found a beautiful chestnut mare, totally different from all the other horses at the show. She was unique in her presence, her carriage, her style and attitude. Her beauty captured me. In that moment I fell in love with what I later found out was an Arabian horse. That mare would change my life in ways I could never imagine.” Rodolfo’s passion had been ignited by a chestnut mare … and the Guzzo Adventure took a sweeping revolution.
“My father wanted me to continue my schooling and study hard,” Rodolfo smiles, remembering his father’s strong recommendations. However, with loads of enthusiasm and a generous dose of creativity, Rodolfo recruited long-time friend and veterinarian, Dr. Ricardo Suma, and others, to win the approval  of Rodolfo’s father. After subtle efforts and focused strategies, young Rodolfo and his supporters persuaded his father to consent to his son’s dream. Days later, Rodolfo signed on at Haras Fabrini, one of Brazil’s best known Arabian farms at the time. “Looking back, my father supported me in so many ways,” remembers Guzzo. “He did everything he could to assure the success of my dreams with Arabian horses.”

From Haras Fabrini, came a disciplined and experienced Rodolfo. Then, at Najib Aude’s Haras Santa Gertrudes, Rodolfo excelled with determination, developed an acute horseman’s sense and uncovered a reservoir of talent and abilities. For Haras Santa Gertrudes, Rodolfo showed the seven-month-old colt Shaklan’s Padron NA who captured Rodolfo’s first Brazilian National Champion title in 1988. The win launched young Guzzo onto the national stage. More national and international championships worldwide would follow, with one or more national champions won by the Guzzo Team every year since 1988.

While at Haras Santa Gertrudes, Guzzo’s work ethic and achievements drew attention. “Rodolfo worked like mad, training and conditioning at least 70 horses at a time, and showing them during the year, at least five shows each,” admires legendary Brazilian breeder Lenita Perroy. “It was a mad pace. He was always working, day and night, but this gave him great experience in just a few years. The farm won everything, every year, at every show.”

With Najib’s insistence, the Guzzo Adventure rolled into a new direction, with Rodolfo landing in the United States. “Coming to the United States was exciting and a great adventure for me. I met so many new people, new horses, and new ways of doing things,” admits Guzzo. “No one really taught me how to show a horse. I watched others carefully and used what they did, changing it to work for me and the individual horses I was conditioning and training.”

By 1996, the confident Rodolfo opened up his own training center in Campinas, Brazil. The Guzzo Adventure was now in overdrive as Guzzo Worldwide burst into the show world. Conditioning, showing, and standing national champions and breeding stallions envied the world around, Guzzo Worldwide in Brazil provided a complete spectrum of training, showing and marketing services, turning out national champions each year and servicing clients across the continents.

“Brazil was exceptionally good to me,” shares Rodolfo. “It is a country of rare beauty, exceptional Arabian horses and breeders. Some of my most treasured clients, friends and family call it home. It’s where I rode my first horse, discovered the Arabian breed and claimed my first national championship.”

With the wild success of Guzzo Worldwide, Brazil, and his constant travel to and from the United States and other countries, Rodolfo created another major element: Guzzo Worldwide–United States. Under his constant direction, the two centers turned out national champions each and every year. Yet, Rodolfo remembered what he had learned from his father first: people are the most important, whether they come with millions of dollars or much, much less; they are the same, and each may have, or breed, or buy that next special horse; or become a close friend.

One of those special horses was the incredibly successfully FA El Shawan (Marwan al Shaqab x Foxbriar Shakita);an example of Rodolfo’s abilities to identify future national champions and great breeding horses. While attending a show in the U.S., Guzzo saw a bay yearling colt take second place, but he saw more in the colt than a second place. With Bolivar Figueiredo, Guzzo found, purchased, and organized a small and elite group of Brazilian breeders to own the colt—all in just two days. Imported to Brazil, FA El Shawan claimed the title of National Champion Yearling Colt, with Guzzo on the lead. Together they won every national championship in his age group, culminating in being named 2010 Brazilian National Champion Senior Stallion.  Following his show career and prior to the stallion’s untimely passing, Shawan became the sire of national winners. Coincidence? Doubtful. The deciding factor: Rodolfo Guzzo and his team at Guzzo Worldwide.

Beyond the mounting national champions shown by Guzzo and his team, perhaps one of the most remarkable events in the Guzzo Adventure was the marketing and sale of the grand Padrons Psyche, then owned by North Arabians. In December 2009, Rodolfo met with good friend and sometimes business partner Christine Jamar. Their discussions centered on finding and importing an exceptional stallion for one of Christine’s clients. A variety of horses were considered, however, none met the standard of excellence demanded by the two. Finally, Guzzo — ever the visionary—suggested Padrons Psyche, though he did not know if the stallion could even be purchased.

With hard-earned determination, Rodolfo then met with Robert and Dixie North and persuaded them to put a price tag on their irreplaceable stallion. Two weeks later, Christine and Guzzo met with internationally successful businessman, Paul Gheysens, in Belgium. With his laptop in hand, Rodolfo and Christine sat at Mr. Gheysens’ long conference table and Guzzo began his persuasive presentation. Discussion followed, and when the three parted, Psyche had a new owner and was soon headed to Europe. It was an historic record-breaking purchase of the then21-year-old legendary stallion.

Another legendary horse often associated with Rodolfo is the one-of-a-kind ink black Arabian mare RH Triana. Discovered by Guzzo, Pam Jump and Rogerio Souza, for Mr. Dick Freeland of Freeland Farms, the extraordinary Triana has claimed a mountain of regional, Scottsdale, and national wins. The black beauty and Guzzo share a unique bond. Friendship—likely. Mutual respect and admiration—certainly. However, despite the almost incredibility of Triana, of most import to Rodolfo was his friendship with Mr. Freeland. “With Mr. Freeland’s passing,” Guzzo quietly states, “I feel a huge loss. He was my great friend; a great man. He was always very supportive and helped so many people do so many things. He always tried to do good for people, and I miss him.”

Continues Guzzo: “I have learned that usually what you do will come back to you—good or bad.” Nowhere is that found to be more true that in Rodolfo’s fiancé Natalia Nieves. “Natalia and I had been friends for a very long time. She saw the best … and the worst of me,” Rodolfo says with his eyes dancing. “Our friendship deepened while we both worked at North Arabians. I watched her with people and with horses. She was incredible with both. Natalia can turn out a national champion with the best of them, and we had four of them the first year when we were both at North Arabians.”

Of Rodolfo, Natalia emotes: “He has a very strong temperament, which can be sometimes a little intimidating when you first meet Rodolfo. But once you know him, he is just the opposite. He is honest and hard-working, always trying to go the extra mile for our clients and their horses. His word is to be counted on—more so than any piece of paper. I love him to his very bones. What we have now is an anchor to my soul. As they say in Portuguese, he is meu amor (my love and more). It’s been a crazy and amazing adventure together!”

Part of the huge success of Guzzo Worldwide, Rodolfo attributes to Natalia—a successful endurance rider, winning amateur halter handler, and an astute business woman. “It’s hard to find people today like Natalia. She is helpful and kind to all. She has changed my life and helped me see into the future and, of course, she is the mother of my youngest son. She, along with my two sons, Rodolfinho and Givoanni, are the three most important things in my life. I love all three so much.” As a tear wells in his eye, Rodolfo quickly changes the subject to Guzzo Worldwide, now a single entitybased in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Consolidating his two training centers into one center in the U.S.A. seemed the logical bend in the Guzzo Adventure. “I travel a lot in the U.S. and around the world. Natalia and Giovanni are here in Scottsdale and Rodolfinho was mostly in Brazil. I wanted to spend a lot more time with all of them. Having two successful centers in two different countries consumed so much of my time. So I made the tough decision to consolidate the two into one, and do what I love to do most: be with Natalia, Giovanni, Rodolfinho, and show and promote beautiful horses.

The Guzzo Worldwide Team is rich in talent, dedication and commitment. Long-time friend and trainer João Carlos Silvestre de Souza, is a major element of the team. With ample abilities, techniques and loyalty, “Carlinhos” is essential to Guzzo Worldwide. “I couldn’t do what I do without Carlinhos,” confirms Guzzo. “He is simple and quietly amazing. We are also lucky to have Austin Colangelo with us. He is a young talent that is constantly working to improve our services and our final product. And then there is “Chamo. He can work circles around people. Franci Ribas is our office manager and our, ‘get me where I’m supposed to be person.’ Our own Johnny Downing is also an important part of the Team. His support, abilities, and rapport with clients make all the difference. The final member of our team is my son Rodolfinho. He is strong, perceptive and amazing with the horses. He will be part of the team this year at Nationals through the Vegas show. He is my great friend.”

It is a daunting challenge to enumerate all of the international and national championships won by Guzzo Worldwide over the years. However, a brief look just at their major accomplishments in the past 12 months easily predicts its future. At  the 2013 U.S. National Championships with just seven horses, Guzzo Worldwide and its clients left Tulsa with four national championships, four reserves and countless top ten awards—a lot to celebrate, for sure. And through the pursuit of future marketing opportunities and major show wins, Guzzo Worldwide is on track and remains focused.

With a select group of horses, Scottsdale 2014 ended with four champions, four reserves, nine first place wins and dozens of top tens. Among those wins were happy clients going home with prize money in their pockets. In addition, some 15clients, and another 15 new owners, went home from Scottsdale with more than just prize money. The farm sold around 15 beautiful horses to new owners in the U.S., Brazil, Italy, and the Middle East. Since Scottsdale 2014, armfuls of wins at the Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas and Regionals across the country have brought more ribbons, plaques and trophies to clients and owners. “And now we are looking forward to our next opportunity to shine for our clients with their horses: the 2014 U.S. Nationals,” says Guzzo smiling broadly. “We are having so much fun, not only for ourselves, but for our clients also.”
With more than 30 horses marketed by Guzzo Worldwide since the Scottsdale show in February, and with preparations forU.S. Nationals, the energy and excitement surrounding Team Guzzo is practically palpable. Yet even with all the pressure to perform, the daily efforts to do better and be better, and the keeping up with the daily demands of the wildly successful Guzzo Worldwide, Rodolfo offers a bit of advice:“Enjoy the ride,” Guzzo advises. “It can be anextraordinary adventure.”

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