Fred, or Freddie as he is affectionately known, was the first horse ever owned by Between Horses and Humans. Freddie, Silver and Mo belonged to one of Barbara Slade’s former students in competitive show jumping. That student went to college in August 2008 and attempted to sell Freddie before she left. Unfortunately he didn’t sell, so Freddie was donated to BHH.
When the student visited Freddie in Arizona to consider buying him he was a sweetheart. But when they returned to Nevada with him he was difficult. He would get overstimulated, and they couldn’t ground him when there were too many people around. He would adopt uncomfortable energy from others, getting himself worked up so that Barbara’s student couldn’t get him calmed down. To a certain degree he is still that way, but now he understands how to be around excess energies without adopting them himself. He can be overly sensitive to excess energy as well as impatient – sometimes he just won’t stand for grooming.
Back then Barbara used to joke that Freddie might have been bipolar – one minute he was being very aggressive, and the next he was cowering as if to say, “Don’t hit me!” Someone must have been inconsistent with him in the past. Consistency was very important for Freddie. To help him through his transition, Barbara and her student did ground work and riding on a daily basis. Over time they taught him to be more in control of his own energy, and he learned to trust his owner. He was a beautiful mover, and he jumped with impeccable form. He was a very powerful horse with grace and style, and he enjoyed a long and recognized jumping career.
Freddie is currently 24 years old, but he looks like he’s half that age. He has a youthful twinkle in his eye and a playful nature. When I was at the barn preparing for this article all Freddie wanted to do was lick my hand. He wasn’t interested in being petted or scratched, he just kept licking and nuzzling my hand. He was very gentle, but incredibly persistent. Barbara says he’s always been mouthy, he just loves to lick, lick, lick, especially after he’s been fed. Recently someone proposed that it could be a sign of ulcers in his youth that give him the tendency to want to lick so much.
Freddie’s persistence comes from his strong tendency to be the Alpha, which means he isn’t the horse for every student right away. They must earn the opportunity to work with him. He’s an excellent horse for developing horsemanship skills because he requires that you understand how to be a firm leader without aggression. If students are to aggressive he’s their face, letting them know who’s boss. They must understand how to signal him correctly, and then he is compliant and cooperative.
Freddie loves working with the BHH students. He’s vivacious and lively, and many people are instantly attracted to his personality. He is very intelligent, and is a master at understanding people. He’s very suave, knowing how to make people like him while still retaining his dominance. If a child is aggressive and bossy he cures them by letting them know he can take control in a second. Yet he also knows how to get the timid and shy students to come out of their shells. He simply persists.
Of the 8 horses in the barn at Maddi’s Friesian Ranch Freddie was the only one afraid of balloons. While all the other horses were walking around them and letting them hit them in the legs and face, Freddie wanted nothing to do with them. Freddie always has to know where everyone is and what they are doing. When Rascal joined Freddie at the ranch in 2009 they were turned out together, but Barbara quickly realized Rascal was promoting Freddie’s Alpha nature. Then Barbara put him out with a gelding. At first the arrangement was okay, but then Freddie began bossing the gelding around making him run around the paddock when Freddie decided that’s what should happen. Finally they put Freddie out alone, and he became a completely different horse – he could relax and be himself without the constant worry of what others were doing.
Freddie is an incredible asset to Between Horses and Humans. He’s a sophisticated gentleman, and BHH is incredibly grateful for the donation of Freddie back in 2008. He is an integral part of changing lives and healing hearts. You can be a part of that too. Please leave a comment or make a donation.
Photos by Nicole Eyerly