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Celebrating Mares - Faconnable

A Celebration of Mares –  FaconnableAlice and Fab

Name: Fab (proper name Faconnable, but nobody can pronounce that so usually sounds like a rude word as I am trotting round the edge for a test. Most off-putting!)

Breed: British warmblood by Faberge 50 x Rubels, bred by Count Kuster in the UK.

Age: 9 years old

Size: 15.2hh. Was supposed to make 16.2hh but decided growing was far too much like hard work.

Owner/Rider: Alice Collins

When did you get Fab?

I bought her unseen from a tiny mobile phone photo of her head as a foal from James Burtwell’s yard. I was just about to go away for two weeks in December 2007 when I heard about is little bay foal. Her breeding caught my eye as I always adored watching Nicky Barrett ride Faberge 50, so I made a cheeky offer on her, which James accepted as he only wanted to keep colts and this little filly was living in a field with just an ancient pony for company.

I put the cheque in the post the day before I went to Cuba, and promised to pick her up as soon as I got back. It’s a really stupid way to buy a horse — I didn’t see proper photos and certainly no video — and I don’t recommend it to anyone else, but I totally got away with it.

Competition history and career highlights.

She was a Winter Regional Champion at prelim and was fourth and sixth in the medium open and advanced medium restricted at the Area Festival final at Hartpury this year. We’re now looking to book in our first advanced, which is pretty daunting but wildly exciting.

What do you consider to be her best qualities.

Her two best qualities are her interactive nature and her adaptability. She grew up on my godparents’ 90-acre farm in Devon and from the very beginning she was a real people horse. We’d be doing some work on the fencing and she would come and bug you until you paid her attention. You could play games with her where you’d crouch down and then jump sideways and she’d follow you, as well as trotting and stopping alongside you as you ran. She also has an incredibly diverse CV. As well as working at advanced dressage at home, she has been hunting, been on beach rides, goes galloping on the nearby airfield, done the Blenheim fun ride as well as been hacking on the moors in Devon a couple of times.

What quirks does she have that are particular to her and how do you deal with them.

She is utterly unrideable after the first clip of the season, and will spin, spook, buck, rear, snake her head and try to bite my feet. Wrap her in sheepskin and she forgets all about it.

She has a very active top lip. Since she was a foal and still now, she likes to curl her top lip right up with her head in the air. She always does it when I’m about the put the bridle on. I think it’s her way of buying time.

Although she is generally unflappable, could be handled by anyone’s gran and travels like a donkey, she is unreasonable. If someone leaves a coat or an exercise sheet on the fence of the arena by the gate, I can’t get in unless someone comes and leads me or removes the offending item!  She hates going first out hacking and if she accidentally finds herself at the front, she whips round faster than you can say “oh look we’re at the front and still going forwards!”. Unless we’re galloping – and then she can’t bear being behind!

What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking of owning a mare/bought a new mare.

Do it. Mares are the most rewarding, maddening, brilliant, intelligent beasties you could ever ask for. I have one piece of advice though: never forget that — in the same way as a stallion is — mares are “entire” so you sometimes get the lows with the highs, but when are mare is on your side, there’s no feeling quite like it.