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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Success Stories

(Sunday Success Stories have been revived here at Eventing-A-Gogo! Each week, we feature a reader's own personal journey through overcoming difficulty and adversity, sometimes against all odds, and pulling through no matter what. These stories are about those who never gave up, and who made a difference in the life of an animal who just needed a little love and care in order to turn around and really bloom again. Send your success stories, past or present, to!)

This week's Sunday Success Story comes from Kate, who wrote in to tell us of her horse Zeus. When Kate and her sister aquired the only offspring of her sister's mare, Shantori, they were faced with the prospect of unraveling the damage an uneducated owner had done to the gelding. Lots of hard work, training and love helped turn Zeus right around!

No Such Thing as a "Free" Horse

Zeus was given to us by his previous owner because he had become more than she could handle. Actually he came to my sister because her horse was also Zeus’ dam. Zeus’ owner boarded at the same barn where my sister kept her Arabian Mare, Shantori. My sister and Shantori were an unstoppable pair, this did not go unnoticed. This border noticed and wanted a baby by Shantori. My sister went along with this idea, curious to what her beloved Shantori would have.
Zeus was born in May of 1999, he was nothing but legs. The owner was so happy to see Zeus was a paint. My sister warned the owner that the spots would fade in time, as Shantori was a gray mare. However, my sister wormed this owner of all the trappings of bringing up baby. All warning went unheeded and the proud new owner of Zeus went on her way. Eventually my sister got her own property and no longer needed to board Shantori. Over the years she would hear occasionally how Zeus was doing: as a three yr old he was sent off for training, the owner was riding him occasionally, the owner got bucked off and would like to sell Zeus back to my sister, thanks but no thanks. Owner got bucked off and cracked some ribs, Zeus is now just a pet. Then, please come get Zeus, he is yours for the taking. After some debate, you know the usual, what are we going to do with a free horse? There is no such thing as a free horse, we will have to feed him, ferrier him, vet, and above all could we try to ride him? I said yes, yes , and yes, lets go get him! After all he was the only foal Shantori ever had and would ever have.
We got Zeus home and could not do much with him at first, I had just had my second child and my sister was expecting hers. So, Zeus would have to remain a pet for a little longer.
After the baby was born, my sister tried to work with Zeus, you know the usual, lunge, dead man, walk , trot then canter, it seemed to go well, that is until it didn’t. Zeus was not wanting to canter one evening, so he bucked my sister off, and also managed to kick her in the head. Sister was wearing a helmet and she was physically fine, but shook up. Zeus became a pet again.
I the spring of 2008, I began to work with Zeus. Just lunging at first and worked my way up to riding him, just walk with the occasional trot thrown in. Then it happened, June 22 2008, Zeus bucked me off. There was no apparent reason. My mom was in the indoor riding arena watching me ride. There was nothing that her or I could see that sent Zeus into the bucking horse he became. We were baffled. I was not physically hurt, but it shook me.
After some more debate, on what to do with Zeus, my sister and I settled on sending him for training. We would split the cost and if it looked like the bucking was not going to stop, Zeus would go up for sale.
Now all we had to do was find a trainer will to work with a “bucker”. Most trainers said no, but all pointed in one direction. This particular trainer was known for her Natural Horsemanship techniques and for taking “problem” horses. This combination had earned her a reputation as “crazy”, I took that as a good thing. We told her our problem, and the goal. I wanted a horse I could ride without getting bucked off, for starters. Then I would like to show him, and trail ride him. My new crazy trainer took on this challenge. She started with ground work, which as I learned was much more then lunging. Zeus had little respect for his human counterpart, being kept as a pet for so long only reinforced that idea for him. As far as Zeus was concerned, humans were for bringing him treats, and that was it. The trainer worked with him on respecting human boundaries and the riding slowly began. I also learned some new Natural Horsemanship techniques that I could apply when I took Zeus home. I learned to control his feet, and Zeus learned to let me.
I continue to ride Zeus to this day, I have taken him on overnight camping trips, shows, and clinics. I now take Dressage lessons on him twice a month and plan on showing him this coming summer. I am grateful for my “free” horse, I have learned more about riding horses, and horsemanship from Zeus and my new “crazy” trainer than all my years of riding safe horses.

By Kate Damp

(Send your submissions and stories to! Gogo wants you to!)


Dom said...

Sunday success stories. What a good idea!

Andrea said...

They were going strong for awhile! And then there were no submissions for a long time. But hopefully people will send them in again!