After I wrote the blogpost about the new, very dynamic show on the History Channel, FULL METAL JOUSTING (here is the link to that post), the former owner of a few of the warhorses featured on that show contacted me!
I had mentioned in that FULL METAL JACKET blogpost that the show would be even greater fun if the horses were featured more. I was saying how engaging it would be if we knew more about the equine partners!
Well… not only did the previous owner (her name is Rachelle) of a few of the horses contact me, but the wife of the Head Jouster, Shane Adams, also contacted me! Unfortunately, she could not grant an interview right away because the producers of the show wanted to look over my questions first (figures…), but I still hope to hear some ‘behind the scenes’ horse talk from her.
But today, I feel very fortunate to give you a glimpse of Gulliver in a fabulous report by his Rachelle, who loved him.
Here is her story and a few personal photos of her boy!
GULLIVER’S STORY AS TOLD BY HIS FORMER OWNER:
I spent the most time with him and he is still very near and dear to my heart!
Gulliver is a white Percheron gelding with just a touch of dappling on his lower legs and rump. He was formerly part of an Amish team of horses that had been split up and a work mate hadn’t been found for him when I purchased him.
It was pretty much love at first site for me. He has such an easy going personality and enjoys attention. I remember standing next to him and scratching his chest and if I stopped he would bump me to continue!
He was broke to drive single or double and also had been ridden. I was interested in him strictly for riding and instantly liked his easy going trot and canter. My plans were to do some local shows with him and trail riding. Eventually he would be offered for sale as a riding/showing companion to an approved home. But, in the meantime I had “plans”!!
I had always been interested in learning to ride sidesaddle and had recently acquired a saddle fitted for a draft. Gulliver was going to be my test horse. First though I rode him in my English saddle on some trail rides and in our riding ring so that he and I could get better acquainted before I decided to get brave and swing my leg over. I needed to know I could trust him to put up with me while I fumbled around and figured out how to keep my seat in the sidesaddle.
I’ll always remember the first time he and I tried it out. What a blast!! I was smiling from ear to ear and he was a true gentleman the entire time. He is a very smart boy and picks things up quickly if he’s allowed time to sort it all out in his own mind. His patience and calmness was the thing about him I loved the most. If he likes you and trusts you he will give 100% of himself no matter what you ask of him. He has so much heart!
We continued to practice and in the meantime went on a big local trail ride we have, the EASTERN SHORE TRAIL RIDE, from which the proceeds benefit a local fire company in Nassawadox, VA. It’s a big ride which gathers 200+ riders for 3 days of trail riding. The big ride is on Saturday and we ride to the beach on the Chesapeake Bay side. The ride is about 17 miles total with a lunch break in between and a professional photographer to get photos as we ride through the waters of the Bay. This was Gulliver’s first time riding out into water that would be well over his knees!! Again, his fabulous demeanor came through. While we weren’t going to be the speediest pair on the ride, we both had a great time and made the entire trip. He maneuvered his big self gracefully over the ups and downs, crossed logs and decided that so much water was made for splashing! And did he ever make a BIG splash! Those pie plate feet were made for pawing water! He also decided that taking a canter in it was very cooling and both of us got pretty wet, as did some others who were unfortunate enough to be within our range!
A few weeks later I decided it was time to test our skills at a local show riding sidesaddle. After much scrubbing, soaping, rinsing and primping we headed out together. Thankfully a friend met us there and helped me get us both ready for our class. Gull just knew he looked good and seemed to enjoy posing for pictures and acted like he was so proud. Such a good boy and what a charmer. I guess he was destined for the spotlight and knowing him I imagine he is in his element when the film crew puts the cameras on him.
Once again he showed me what a well mannered horse he was and went into his first show ring performing like a perfect gentlemen. I couldn’t have been prouder…I know he made me look good. As a beginner I was still having to learn how to keep myself sitting in the saddle correctly and occasionally I would “list” a bit to one side. Good old Gull seemed to shimmy me back where I needed to be each time. More than likely he didn’t want me to embarrass him by falling off and smart boy that he is decided to get me back in the middle where I belonged!
Plans were already in the works at this time for Gulliver and his companions to be going to Shane Adams. I knew after this show what a special horse he was getting and hoped Gull would excel at his new job. It was still hard to see him go, but I had a lot of faith in this horse and felt his new handlers would realize just how cool he was!
I cannot describe how proud I was when I saw him for the first time on the show. He looks fabulous! It’s evident that all of the horses are very well cared for and he looks very happy with his new job! It’s amazing when you think about it. He went from being an integral part of a working Smish farm, to a ladies sidesaddle/trail riding companion, to a real life war horse!
If he could talk he would surely have some good stories to tell! I hope to see him again one of these days, give him a good scratch on the chest and tell him just how darn proud I am of him!
THIS JUST IN! A READER ASKED A QUESTION AND RACHELLE ANSWERED:
QUESTION: So fun to know! I used to ride a couple of Percherons in a lesson program, and just LOVED them. Only bad part was getting them clean – it was easier to wash my minivan, seriously! :-)
I still have a question, though, and I bet it’s on your list: how did they find the right horses for the jousting program? I’m surprised that Rachelle parted with Gulliver but I guess an offer was made that she couldn’t refuse. I am very curious to know how they pick the horses, though.
ANSWER: Yes, you definately need a bucket or something to stand on, That rump area is kinda tricky to get clean. By the end of the bath he would be sparkly white and I would look like a dirty, wet rat. Funny how that happens!
As far as parting with him…well, it’s never easy to see them leave. I spend a lot of time just messing with them….like most horse crazy girls will do. But, when the right match happens, it’s also a wonderful thing. When we get them we plan for them to eventually go on and become a companion to someone looking for a larger, quiet horse to ride or sometimes also be able to drive. Honestly, when Shane first called and spoke to Clyde we looked at each other after they hung up and went “Is this for real?? Jousting???!!” Turns out it was! :-) Shane told us what he was looking for and after speaking in depth and sending photos he felt our boys would be good additions to their show. I was pretty confident they could do it not only physically, but mentally. They are smart boys and always enjoyed being out a really working and using their strength. Again, when Shane says on the show they were bred for this, he is correct. I know my boys and can tell from body language on the show that they seem very happy and most importantly healthy and fit. I’m happy knowing they are receiving the care and training he is providing. :-)
So, it’s not so much that an offer we couldn’t refuse was made, but an offer for the boys was made that we couldn’t refuse. They have a wonderful new life and very exciting careers now!
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
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