The Story Of Fred

December 9, 2010

Fred was born on May 22, 2004  at Black Diamond Farm in Kentucky. His registered name was “The Sugar Tree” but everyone called him Perry. He was sired by RWC Bi-Mi World Premier and his dam was Meg-A-Bucks. Both his ‘parents’ were Five-Gaited American Saddlebreds that definitely succeeded in their show careers.

In October of ’07, I finally started looking for a horse of my own. I had been riding for what felt like forever but my parents never wanted to get me a horse. They really thought I’d quit riding. My trainer and I finally convinced my dad that I was ready and she began to look for a horse for me. She got a call from a local trainer-friend saying that she was trying to get rid of some horses and was wondering if my trainer had anyone who was looking. They decided on what one of her horses would come to my barn for a visit.

Towards the end of October, ‘Perry’ arrived. He walked into the barn and I was a bit put off. I was expecting a wired show horse that would be coming into the barn, tail set, show shoes, snorting and wide-eyed– but this horse came in a different way. He walked inside slowly, barely batted an eye at anything, walked in his new stall and began to eat. Really? That was it? He was tall, about 16.1-16.2hh and the typical chestnut gelding. His tail wasn’t set, his feet were bare, and he was more concerned about how much hay he got to eat than being somewhere new. Nope, not what I expected… or wanted.

But, I was stuck with the horse for about a month. He was staying at my barn for a try-out session and I had to deal with him. A few days later, my trainer jumped on him to show me what he looked like. He plodded along with as much knee action as a Quarter Horse. My checklist for ‘Type of Horse I want’ wasn’t even close to being finished. I was not really sure he was what I wanted…at all. For a few weeks, I began visiting him quite often and rode a few times–and his personality began to take over. I loved his silly mannerisms and the fact that everybody at the barn loved him. Everybody that walked inside the barn wanted to visit with him for hours. He rubbed off on all of us… so on November 14, 2007–he was mine.

I began riding Fred about 4-5 times a week. I spent a lot of time teaching him basic stuff; like parking out, cantering, etc. I was very proud of what I had accomplished. I had always ridden completely trained horses and I now had something that I got to teach. It was fascinating. He learned very quickly and within a couple months he was picking up his canter cues on a dime. He was still very green but at the time, we were not aware of just how green he was. After almost a year of owning him, he began to start scaring me. It started off with uncontrollable bolting. I would be trotting him towards the back door of the arena, and suddenly he would take off. I could not steer him, I could not stop him. All I could do was hold on until he dumped me. Then, he started realizing he could take advantage of me. He would bolt every time I rode him. Sometimes, he would take off before I even got on him. I remember one day, all the girls were outside riding (behind our indoor arena). I brought him into our indoor and went to get on him. He saw the girls out the back door and just bolted towards the outside. I finally got to catch him and then was too terrified to ride– because he hadn’t even given me a chance to get on before taking off on me. Even a few times, he was bad in his stall. I went into his stall one day and he actually reared up while I was in there. Needless to say, I quit riding him for almost a year. The most I did was drive him– because my trainer recommended it, but it wasn’t what I bought him for. And of course, when I did ride him, I fell off. There were days where my trainer would ask me to do something, like ride outside, and I would bawl my eyes out. One day, she asked me just to walk him up and down the path in the back of the barn after a lesson. I cried … and cried. I was so afraid I would get hurt.

For a few months, I talked to my dad about selling Fred, but because he was my first horse I was not really okay with that option. My confidence was shot and I told my father that if we sold Fred, I was quitting riding for good. I didn’t think it was worth it anymore.

I did a couple barn searches online and came across a few that looked decent. I went to visit a couple but they weren’t really what I was looking for. Then, I found New Beginning Stables. My mom called the trainer for me one day when I was at work to ask her about the place, and then gave me the BO’s number so I could make an appointment to visit. About a week later, I went out to the barn to check it out. Automatically, I knew that was the place Fred needed to go to. I could hardly wait. A week later, Fred was picked up and taken to his new home.

My new trainer, Charlene, knew off the bat a few things that needed fixed. She changed Fred’s diet, started letting him go outside (he was not allowed at my old barn because he was a “show horse”), and began working him. She told me the reason that I could not get him to stop when he bolted was because he did not know how to give to bit pressure–which was one of the first things he should have learned. She said, “How many times did you guys bit him?” My reply? “Once or twice…”

Our first two shows with Charlene were ASHAO in Ashland and another at Canfield Fairgrounds in 2009. I was really excited but both shows became a shitty experience, to say the least. At Ashland, both of my classes resulted in Fred throwing little tantrums, little bucks, and getting me unseated, frustrated, and embarrassed. At Canfield, it resulted in me feeling like I was going to die before my first class. I went to practice right before my class and Fred did anything BUT move forward. He reared, he bucked, he leaped, he spun.. but he did not move forward. So, I jumped off of him and he took off down the fairgrounds. Bolted. We ran after him to chase him down but luckily he stopped when he saw a man with donuts. (He had to have a bite). We later found out his back had gone out.

Charlene decided Fred was a bit too dangerous. She said she could try to put him into training but she was not sure if she could make him quit being a brat. She suggested selling him. I cried for hours. My father agreed to put Fred into training for two months to see if Charlene could make a miracle. So, for the next two months, I was not allowed on my horse. I went to watch many training sessions and was slightly horrified in the beginning. He threw awful tantrums. He would rear up and smack your head against the arena wall. He would take his neck and smack it into your face. Leap, bound, go backwards, smack you in the face, but not want to go forward. I was ready for her to call it quits. I also resorted to talking to many people on forums about Fred’s issues. They’re suggestions? Sell him. He’s too dangerous. He will get you killed. Horses like that aren’t worth it, just get rid of him– he will never be rideable. I really did take people’s words into consideration but I was hoping they were wrong.

I remember the day I went out to the barn towards the end of his training and my trainer suggested for me to grab a helmet. I looked at her, slightly terrified, and she told me that she was putting me on Fred. I grabbed my helmet and jumped on. She told me to listen to her, to sit there, and not to fuss with him. I took a lesson that day. I got a few smacks in the face, surprisingly no broken nose, but that was it. Otherwise, he was really good. So, she said I could start riding him again but we’d have to have lots of lessons.

For months I took lessons and it got to the point where Fred just quit fighting us. He began to calm down and actually listen. He never really enjoyed working (he’s not a horse that enjoys his job… he’s lazy. he’d much rather eat and play outside), but he began to know his job and would do it when asked without a fight. He joined the lesson program. I’ve watched 12 year old girls jump him for fun (their first time and his!). I’ve watched 8 year olds learn to canter on him. I’ve watched other beginners learn to ride on him. Whether it’s a lesson on cantering, or a lesson on steering and controlling a horse, I’ve seen him teach many different riders. I’ve also seen him give the “Fred Work Out Program, Lose FIFTY+ POUNDS!”

Recently, we switched Fred’s discipline. He had always been saddleseat and that was the only thing I ever wanted to do with him. My trainer constantly said, “He’d be a really competitive hunt horse.” … “He has the mindset of a hunt horse. He’s built like a hunt horse. I think he’d actually enjoy being ridden hunt.” but I didn’t really listen.

This summer (2010)… Fred went lame. DEAD LAME. After spending the whole summer getting various vet diagnostics and being told that there was a chance Fred would never be ridden again; we found a pocket in his foot from some severe thrush he had. After it emptied out, he began to be a rideable again. I knew that he was uncomfortable saddleseat and because of all his lameness problems,  I did not want to make it worse, so I told my trainer I would try huntseat on him.

I really liked it. At the end of the summer, I showed him at two different shows huntseat. We had some issues to work out, but mostly on my part, not his. He looked incredible and performed so well. He looked so happy. I had only had two huntseat lessons and he had never been trained for it. So, I decided that would be our main discipline. We will still do a saddleseat class now and then, but we are going to make it far in huntseat. We will.

Watch in HD format, of course.

I won’t lie. There are days the the last two videos make me cry in happiness.

So, that’s Fred.


3 Responses to “The Story Of Fred”

  1. Jordan Says:

    Just testing to see if public comments work.

  2. Camille Says:

    So proud of you Jordan! I know exactly what its like to feel hopeless and terrified and to want to quit riding. Who would have guessed that years later, we’d consider our once scary ponies to be the best horses we could ever ask for!

  3. fredtherapy Says:

    Thanks Camille! I appreciate it. It’s definitely a good feeling. 🙂

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