Rich Fellers and Flexible at Spruce Meadows. -Photo by Keara

Rich Fellers and Flexible at Spruce Meadows. -Photo by Keara

This is part 2 of a behind the scenes look at Superhorse Flexible. If you didn’t catch the first half of the interview, be sure to have a look at it here, it’s definitely worth it!

After a fairly heavy first half of the interview where we learned, in detail, about the incredibly bumpy and heart wrenching journey that Flexible has had, we did move into some lighter and more rapid fire questions. This is where, as a big fan myself, I asked some things that I really wanted to know, and also got some input from other HJU bloggers.

Before I get to that though, I’ll tell you about meeting Flexi and my impressions. As a longtime fan of Flexi, Rich, and the sport in general, it was a bit like meeting a rock star. Driving over to Spruce I was actually nervous- partially because I’m still a long ways from nailing this whole interview thing (I definitely prefer the photography!), but also because of who I was meeting. Therefore, I need to send serious thanks to Rich Fellers and his team because they were super accommodating and easy going, immediately helped me to relax and not simply die in the barn aisle.

Okay, let’s get to the good stuff.

Flexible. Always described as a small horse, he definitely is in comparison to some on the mammoths out there, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in stoutness and muscle- he is a solid Irish fellow! As you can tell from the photo, he is in amazing shape and really doesn’t look 18. His coat gleams, his muscles ripple, and he definitely has a presence about him. Furthermore, he must know he’s good, because he announced both his exit from and entrance back into the barn for everyone to hear- gotta like a little stallion attitude.

Now to the questions:

1) At 18, what are some of the care and management strategies that help keep him going?

  • He’s very tough- we don’t do a lot of special things!
  • Fitness is key
  • A simple diet- hay, along with lots of grain for energy
  • Lots of supplements? Nope – this is just something that Rich doesn’t do a lot of in his program

“It’s mostly good old fashioned fitness and listening to the horse. If he doesn’t feel right we give him a break, but he’s pretty tough, a real tough horse, real sound.”

2) What are some of his quirks in the barn or under saddle?

  • Under saddle he can be very difficult to get on. Although it has improved over the years, Rich has had broken ribs and a concussion from his antics. Apparently he can buck like quite the bronc! Even now, when he’s fresh, they need to be extra careful when it is time to mount (I seem to be really good at finding horses that can’t do the prize giving ceremonies at Spruce *cough* Monkey, Flexi…).
  • In the barn he can be a little protective of and grumpy in his stall, especially when he has food! This is why we decided to go outside and take photos- he wasn’t about to pose nicely in the stall 😉

“He wouldn’t hurt you, but he’d look like he wanted to kill you! But, yes, he’s a pretty good natured sweet horse, really.”

3) What is the biggest thing, in general, that Flexible has taught you?

  • WAIT.

“If you have time, take it, use it, don’t be in a rush. We’ve waited it out with him in numerous situations where there was advice to get aggressive and try to fix some of these problems. Patience and time can be very helpful.”

4) What is on the horizon for Flexible?

  • He’s a young 18 – he doesn’t feel 18, he doesn’t act 18, he has a lot left in him
  • Take things show by show, and class by class
  • Flexi will decide when it’s time to stop!

“As long as he’s feeling young, enthusiastic, and fresh. He craves it, it’s like candy to him, like candy to a kid. He loves going in the ring, he tells me, it’s so obvious. He doesn’t like warming up, he’d just as soon not warmup, the warm-up ring is a waste of time to him, but boy when it’s time to go in the ring, he can’t wait to get in. He wants to go in and do his thing, he loves it.”

For the answers right from Rich, here is the video of the interview:

Finally, I couldn’t resist putting together a little photo gallery of Flexible competing at Spruce Meadows over the last few years. Here’s to more to come! Enjoy!

Keara