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Galavant's Story

One day in Malibu I got a phone call from a friend. "You should come and look at this horse."

Oh, I don’t need a horse.

"Well he is beautiful and moves nice, but he is difficult to ride, actually, nobody can ride him and he is leaving with the kill buyers tomorrow. Will you come?"

OK I’ll be right there.


I drove over to their barn. They brought me to this horse tied up at a fence (he looked like this was not a good idea and would spook and pull back any moment!)

I went up to him and quickly untied him and thought, OK he is terrified. I put him on the lunge line, since he was considered dangerous to ride.

Yes, he was beautiful but had very poor balance and was struggling to trot and canter on a large circle. He was 5 years old.

Someone had imported him from Canada and started him I was told. He did not seem that dangerous just unbalanced so I figured I would try. I was told he would probably spook maybe bolt.

I got on and walked down the long side. He carried his head so high we looked each other in the eye above his ears.

I hopped off and said, I’ll take him. ​I just didn’t want him to go to the killers, he was so scared.  

My friend who had called me called the owners and said, "Great news, I got him sold!"

They said, "it doesn’t matter we already got paid by the kill buyer and he is coming tomorrow morning. Done deal, sorry."

We tried to argue with them but no.. Later that night my friend got a phone call. "Ok fine, if she shows up before the kill buyer with cash in hand she can take him."


The next morning I was there.

Loaded him and drove home like I stole him. Wondering what I had done.


In the next few days, my friend found out more history on him. He was bought by a client of a trainer that was known to be very rough with his horses. The client was told they could flip the horse and make money. It didn’t happen fast enough and she was done. The trainer just abandoned the project and left the lady with the horse.


Amazingly the lady had his registration papers and I could trace him to his breeder in Canada. I was able to change his name to Galavant and got him registered in my name. The cool thing is that he is well bred and has Swedish bloodlines. Score!


So now I knew he was trained rough and he was scared so I worked him like he was un-started. I backed him like it was new and finally was able to ride him on the trail. In a halter...

He hated the bit. He would not accept it. But we were OK in the halter so, off we went. Finally, we graduated to a soft happy mouth.


I tried to take him places to give him confidence. Oh, boy he was spooky. I wasn’t very popular. It was pretty much, 'Oh shit she’s coming on that horse again. let's get out of here". Or, "How do you stay on?" Answer, I don’t have time to fall off. He is so fast when he spooks.


After about 9 months I was able to take him to a show and ride Training level.

He would NOT go close to the white rail. But hey, I was there. We were progressing.


2 months later he slipped on a rubber mat in his stall, fell hard and broke his femur.

I came just after morning feed and he stood in the back of his stall and would not eat. That’s not him. I go to check. I realize that he CAN’T move. I can tell by the traces and the dirt that he must have been down but now he won’t move. I also realized that his dorsal stripe was going zig zag over his sacroiliac area!

The vet came and did a rectal exam. He did not seem to have broken the back but there was some rotation of the spine. And he was a paraplegic. We did not know yet, he had broken the femur. We decide to keep him comfortable and give it a few days.

He would not move for 6 days. Then he inched. Day by day he would inch a little more. After a month, we checked the spine again. It seemed to have straightened out some. I was starting to hand walk. Maybe 10 steps.  Slowly adding steps. After 3 months he was cleared to go in a very small pen. We kept rehabbing.


After a year he was sound on the lunge line. I got the OK to ride.

He wasn’t having it! But this was pain. I also had found that he had these strange small bumps on top of his croup. The vet did an ultrasound. It was tiny pieces of bone that had splintered off the sacroiliac/spine and now had worked itself to the skin. We took out the biggest ones.  But since he still wasn’t right under saddle we took him to a bone scan.

The hospital who did the bone scan called. (They had no history on the accident) Did he fall down really hard? Yes, how did you know? Oh, he has a fractured femur. It was probably a clean break and the muscles must have kept it in place. Just give him another year and he should be fine.

So I did.


After 2 + years after the accident, he had NO work ethic. Why work when you get fed anyway?

I stuck with it. I was told to put him down to many times to count. We kept going.

He was insanely spooky. I never fell off but it was close. He once gave me whiplash in the middle of my back.

I had to address the spook. It was visual. I kept insisting. Several vets looked at his eyes. Nothing. He is just naughty. I finally took him to an animal eye specialist in San Diego. He was spookier on one side and I was ready to have the eye removed. It was that bad. He and I were miserable.


The Specialist found why he was spooky! A certain eye cyst that at birth covers the whole eye!

It would be like looking through broken car glass. He was probably born with it.  It is very hard to see because it is opaque.

The hard part is that through life, the cyst shrinks. It keep changing. So his eye then gets two pieces of information. The area that the cyst is leaving is clear and the broken glass area is blurry. Also, probably a blind spot at the border of the cyst. That keeps moving as it shrinks.

So don’t worry. When he gets older he should be less spooky. Great!


Knowing what was going on with his vision made training easier.

Still spooky, but at least I knew why. We kept going.

We earned USDF All Breeds Award at 2nd level in 2011and USDF All Breeds Award at Prix st George in 2014.

We are now schooling Grand prix.


It’s been a journey. He is my Guy, my Heart horse. My Goof ball.

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