I purchased Faberge approximately two and half years ago (she was just turning 3 years old) from her breeder in the North Island.  Faberge is an extremely well-bred warm-blood with a dressage pedigree. She is a 3rd generation of frozen semen by First Romancier out of a Sir Donnerhall/ Master mare.  She has super movement for dressage and was born with a natural desire to want to move her feet.
Having had quite a lot of experience in riding young horses and a strong interest in horsemanship, dressage and breeding I was keen to take Faberge on.
I did not get the opportunity to view her in person before purchasing but that wouldn’t have changed anything anyway but I did not foresee the major challenge of transporting her!


The first Challenge

After I had paid over the money the owner told me Faberge was very over-reactive and there’s no way you can worm her etc.  etc. Also that the way she had managed her to date was to lunge her on three legs (with one tied up) until she was completely tired, whereupon she would stand for farrier, worming  etc. etc.

She was born and bred on their property and consequently had never been on a float. And the unsuspecting driver found out there was no way she was going to load onto the transporter.

  The previous owner had spent hours trying to teach her to load, even using a friend’s truck backed up to a hill-side so the ramp wasn’t as steep, but that was still way too scary for Faberge. She would go in but promptly turn around, repeatedly leaping completely out of the truck without touching the ramp! 

Anyway the next time the transporter arrived was still ‘mission impossible’ and by then were getting very annoyed about this as it was costing their business time and money.  Finally two months later I got onto a local guy who was very experienced in handling horses and he came to the rescue. 

He managed to get her onto his trailer float after many hours of handling and take her back to his place for a week of education including float loading.  After some damage to his float and his round pen with 3 broken post and rails from her jumping out he got her floating and onto the transporter a week later and eventually she  made it safely to Christchurch.

A few weeks later the Warmblood Association had their classification tour with a German classifier that I chose to take her to!  As she still hadn’t done a lot of float loading, I spent a few weeks doing ground work and loading her on and off my straight load double float.  She was very worried about everything, even walking near a shed, but due to the floating experience she’d just had coming from the NI I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to get (any normal horse) her to load onto a different float! 

I did manage to get her to the classifying that was only a 20min trip down the road.  She was very unsure of everything because she had never experienced the outside world, but ended up with the highest score a horse has ever had with the NZ Warmblood Assn, receiving the award elite status.  Her super conformation and movement impressed but I’m sure those people viewing were thinking ‘who would ride that horse’ especially when she spent some of the day on her hind legs in the rearing position!  Look at her eye! (photo at top of page)

Well many hours later we loaded to come home but just as I was about to drive off she got so afraid that she tried to jump out through the window of the float. My worst nightmare! I have never in my life heard such a terrible noise and I certainly had never heard a horse making such terrible screaming noises. 

Thankfully someone was nearby but it was hard to do anything due to not knowing where she was going to come out.  All I thought was she will not be in any state to survive and I just wanted to get a gun to put her out of her misery as soon as possible as I thought she’s have all of her legs broken and more.

  Somehow we managed to get the back door down as she was jammed up the front with her back leg over the now bent middle partition.  Then she went upside down and it was impossible to get in there with her with all the panic and her legs kicking and thrashing about. 

Miraculously she finally got to her feet and we could stand in the float with her for the next 10 mins while we all started breathing again!  Thankfully she had only cut herself up by her wither and head and scraped legs and developed a haemotoma on her chest but all in all very very lucky considering.  I left her at the property for a week and then spent more time loading her and managed to nervously float her home with another horse for company a few weeks later.

Clearly this horse had a massive amount of panic but I was up for the challenge to get her right. 

She was also impossible to get weight on but I knew that would change, it was just a time thing.
She fence ran to the extreme, any little thing would send her running up and down like a totally crazy horse.


More Challenges...

From the moment I purchased her I had her on Premium NZ Minerals, Alleviate C, Toxdefy, salt and as little as possible of green grass and plenty of non-rye hay etc. I have always used these products since day dot and totally believed in the feeding method so knew it was just a matter of time.

She had never had her teeth done so as per usual on the yearly dental with previous horse she had a selenium blood test.  This came back very low so I added extra organic selenium to her daily feed and kept testing every year where now it is perfect.  This is something I’d never have done without the helpful knowledge of Jenny Paterson of Calm Healthy Horses.

Six months later I sent her to someone who lives close to me to be started under saddle.  I had done a lot of groundwork by this time and had saddled her so basically she was ready to be backed.  I floated her there with my other horse. 

However the starting process didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. I had supplied all her daily feeds with her minerals and non-rye meadow hay etc. Little did I know they didn’t stick to my feeding regime and she was put on Lucerne hay and molassed sweet feed..

Soon after, she developed mud fever and then badly sprained her hock from having her tail somehow caught in the fence and half of it ripped out, and she had lost a lot of weight. 

They wouldn’t listen to my feeding instructions and were also riding her with her injured leg so I made the decision to bring her home even though she wasn’t finished being started.  I was then unable to do anything with her until most of the swelling had gone from her hock.  See photo of when I got her home.

Faberge having lost a lot of weight and her injured hock

Finally months later I slowly started doing ground work and saddling her again until I managed to start riding her.  I built it up and basically had to do a lot on the ground due to her over-reactiveness and a small amount out riding.  I barely went a day without riding or doing something with her. 

I attended many horsemanship clinics where just floating there was a major task, always arriving with her totally covered in sweat. The paddocking with all the other horses would have her running about like a crazy horse and she found the indoor arena with all the other horses completely overwhelming.  If she was at the float any little thing would make her feel the need to pull back etc etc.  This was to be the norm for months wherever we went.

I did purchase an angle load float to eliminate any possibility for Faberge to try to jump out the front of the float again. Even though she was still not easy to float I knew that everything one day would come right – her weight and her floating. I knew I would eventually have a calm horse to ride and handle.

I was right, after well over 12 months, everything did come right and has been ever since. Without changing anything I was doing but just by give her time for all the minerals etc to do their thing.

I stuck to my feeding and horsemanship principles, believing in both very strongly and that the diet comes first before anything else. 
For the last year I’ve had her on the Premium MVA and I feed her twice a day splitting everything between two feeds.  She has really developed and muscled up and I always get loads of comments on how well is she looking.  I lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked whether she is for sale.

I’m pleased to say a year later, that I now have one truly amazing calm healthy horse. 
Less than 5 months from doing her first A & P show I’ve recently returned from floating her up to the NZ National Dressage Champs and the Horse of the Year Show. Wow did I have to pinch myself! Especially since it is the first competitions I done myself for over 20 years.

At her first show, the Ashburton A & P, she got Res Champ Novice Riding Horse. 
Then at the big Christchurch Show she won the dressage and then in the main oval won the Paced and Mannered Novice Riding Horse. (Got to be calm to win that one!)
Overall she was South Island Warm-blood Assn In-hand Champion, Reserve Champion Level 1 Dressage at Canterbury Championships, 5 year old Champion Young Dressage Horse and overall Champion South Island Young Dressage Horse, Champion National Amateur CN-C3 2015, 4th overall National level 1, 3rd overall at Hoy level 1.  More recently she had her first start at Level Two, winning on 70%.

As well as competing during the breeding season, I tried to do an embryo transfer foal from her, something less than a year ago I would never have dreamed of trying because it involved putting her in a crush.  Well she was the perfect mare and a favourite of the breeding vets and their team because she was so easy to handle and complete all the breeding procedures.  Faberge is now having a foal (in another month). Due to being bred and trying to do ET she was PG’d a number of times so she was in season for a lot of the competitions.  This turned out to be no big deal, she was just her usual self other than peeing a  little more often when not being ridden.

Everywhere we have been she is so perfectly behaved that no one would believe the journey we have been on!
Just before going to the North Island she had a tooth ‘cap’ that needed removing and a blocked tear duct to be cleared.  Well the vet was blown away when they were able to remove the cap with no sedation and then place a catheter up her nose a number of times while she remained so willing.  The vet couldn’t believe what a wonderful nature she has and couldn’t stop talking about her – she was wowed!
Faberge is super easy to clip, worm, trim her barefoot hooves, is a super fantastic ‘floater’ and I never see her fence running! She maintains her perfect weight easily now.  
What a dream horse and I totally believe it all came down to getting her diet right, all thanks to ProvideIt Minerals.