Friday, October 15, 2010


This is Fabian.

Fabian came back home to me with issues. Well, it's hard to explain--he's always been a bit odd--so he left me with some issues but things got worse, instead of better, so I brought him home.

Fabian was perplexing because his sire, Eddie, was known all over for how easy and sweet he was, even as a stallion. His momma was equally easy--you could do absolutely anything with her and she would just go along...never an opinion or even hesitation about anything. Fabian was bred to be an easy horse, so for him to be anything but easy, was very odd.

So, I got him home and just let him settle in for a while. I thought a lot about my approach. He wasn't mean, by any means, but he wasn't the horse he should be. All of Eddie's babies had been so easy to train, except for Fabian. What was going on here?

The first day I tried to catch him, I wasn't even planning on catching him, but I wanted to fly spray everyone. Normally I just go around and spray them all--they're all used to it, no halter neccessary. Fabian flew off like I was spraying acid on him, though, which mandated an impromptu lesson. I went and got the halter and an hour later (not kidding here), I was finally able to catch him. I didn't get upset or mad or run after him--I just kept walking towards him and he did all the running and carrying on. Eventually he wore out and I slipped the halter on.

Fortunately that was the last time we had such an episode. Now he literally sticks his nose into the halter when I offer it, so problem #1 resolved! I'm able to spray him without a halter on now, too. Problem #2 resolved!

In the past several months I've taken it easy with Fabian and just did nice stuff, like grooming him, petting and scratching and talking to him. I clipped him, which I was told he did great with before, and he continued to be good at it. I've been working a lot with his feet, which still needs to be worked on, but he's getting better. Now rather than lead-foot, he's more of an aluminum foot...stubborn and strong but a little lighter weight :) Problem #3 unresolved, but in the works!

The next issue was the roundpen. Fabian had a history of climbing up the sides of it. Not quite a month ago I decided it was time to start getting Fabian broke. He's been through some training, but like I said, there were some issues, so I decided we'd just start over from scratch. We had a decent lesson, but there was some trouble, as I posted on Sept. 20th. Fabian was scared, tense, and all he knew was "run!!" I worked hard to get him to listen. Listen, listen, listen. That's all we've worked on.

I'm very blessed to have a busy life--a full time job, lots of animals, friends and family to keep me busy, but it means I break one of the cardinal rules of horse training: I'm inconsistent as all get out. So, Fabian has only been worked three times in the last three weeks. But, I'm happy to report that he's shown that he's truly his father's son--he's progressed by leaps and bounds despite our inconsistent training schedule!

Last night he proved it: he lunged like a pro. He was relaxed, happy, even playful! He listened and picked up his gaits flawlessly after a single cue. I'd ask him to transition down from the lope to a walk and BAM--just absolutely perfect. Nothing of that scared, tense horse remained. As corny as it sounds, I had tears in my eyes when we finished. I gave Fabian a huge hug--he's come so far, so fast. He's NOW the horse that I bred--the horse he should be--the product of his wonderful parents. Issue #4 resolved!

We didn't stop there, though. I had brought a couple of things to sack him out with--an old, ripped necksweat and a tarp. He was slightly tense at first with the necksweat, but quickly got over it and was soon more interested in the grass than what I was sacking him out with. Then came the tarp. I was certain this was going to be the test!

Did Fabian freak? Not just no, but heck no! He bit the tarp, walked all over it, even got caught up in it for a second but then backed up and walked right off it. I laid it over his back and asked him to walk around the roundpen. He was aware, but not a bit of fear. He stopped, turned his head, bit the tarp and it slid off his back. He didn't move a single hoof. Issue #5 almost resolved--I've got about 4 more things I'd like to fully sack him out with before saddling him.

Of course, we still have a long ways to go. Eventually I hope to use Fabian for a lot of trail riding. He'll be perfect for it--he's so short that I won't even have to duck under branches! Ha! He's also pretty flashy, and come to find out, he's also got a terrific personality. In the meantime we'll keep working and keep testing those limits. I'm just so elated to finally see the horse that I always knew he could be.

Never give up, never surrender!


Anonymous said...

It sounds like really solid progress - the real horse was there underneath and just needed to be rediscovered!

CCC said...

Good job! Both of you. I barely remember what it was like to bring a young horse along. But what I do remember is the good feeling it is. Isn't learning a great thing, even if it's not us that's learning?

Jessie McCandless said...

I'm so happy it's all turned out so well. :)

I love that feeling of accomplishment with those little steps, one day at a time, but I feel like I also learn a lot, too. For example, apparently Eddie's (my stallion I had to euthanize in June) all have the "tarp walking" gene. They're unphased! LOL So, I have to strain my brain and figure out new stuff to throw at them, to sack them out with. It's so much fun to try to figure those things out!

Krazy Cindy said...

Congrats on your progress with Fabian! It won't be long before you are wondering how you are going to get enough time on all these ridin' horses of yours ;-)

Jessie McCandless said...

Ain't that the truth!! That's what I have to keep telling myself if I see another horse I like--I can only ride one at a time and I already have FOUR!! LOL!!