Today my most beloved Brute Force (Sabio+ by *AN Malik x Southern Chablis by Tarbush [by El Gato]) turned 25 ~ he made it to the quarter century mark. This is his story.
Brutus as he is affectionately known was foaled on May 6, 1985 and the only baby, out of six foals she had for us, I ever got to see his mama actually give birth to. She was a sneaky one! Turn your back and out pops baby. When the little bugger was little, he was a horrid bully to his mama. I was looking for something to call him that sounded fitting for an English horse and one that had an overbearing personality. At first I was thinking of the bully in the Popeye cartoon, but did not want to call my horse "Bluto", so "Brutus" it was. :) Here's a bit of hilarious trivia that I never realized...the Bluto character originally was called Brutus. Wow!!
He made his show ring debut at the tender age of 2 1/2 months, when the Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association was holding current year foal classes. Of course he had not yet been weaned, so we had to bring mama along...it wasn't pretty. All was fine when we took them on walks the few days we were there before his class, but that morning we had to make a choice whether or not to leave the mare back at our stalls, or bring her to the arena while he was being shown. We opted for leaving her back at the barn, and she screamed bloody murder the whole time. My lovely Brutus and I made a grand entrance at the trot, and all of a sudden he launched into mid-air, leaping like a wild horse before SPLAT landing flat on his side in a muddy arena. Needless to say, though it was a memorable first outing, it wasn't memorable in a good way!
Twice more he was shown at Halter as a youngster, one time as a yearling and again as a two year old colt. During his yearling year we took him to the 1986 Region One Championships as he was an International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA, now AHA) Breeder Sweepstakes Breeding Entry to show him in one of the first Yearling Sweepstakes classes. There were 19 horses in the class, and I was but a young teenage pup back then. I knew his best chance to go Regional Champion or Reserve was to have a big name trainer on the end of the lead, so I reluctantly went in search of someone who wanted to catch-handle him for me. There were more than a half-dozen trainers chomping at the bit, so to speak, to get the chance to show this horse, but all of them wanted me to put front shoes on him. In those days it was still legal to show Arabian babies in shoes. That was something I was going to stick to my guns on and I decided ultimately to bite the bullet and exhibit him myself barefoot. He was named Regional Top Ten with me at the lead, and I have little doubt he would have placed higher had I compromised my beliefs for a ribbon. He was considered one of the favorites! At that show I turned down an offer of $50,000 for him...it's a decision I have never once regretted.
His last show before going under saddle was the Whittier Host Lions Club show in 1987 where I showed him in the two year old colt class. There were nearly 50 entries, and he was pulled into the Top Ten though did not ribbon (they only placed to 6th with a ribbon). Not too shabby! Being a May baby, it was hard to compete anyhow against the January foals who were all far bigger than he, not to mention his mama didn't quite make 14 hands.
My dream for Bru was to have him excel in the ring as a superstar in the "new" Country English Pleasure division, though it was a long haul to get him there. He was started under saddle at 3, after having spent most of his 2nd year in longlines. Being the character that he was, Brutus proved to be a tough cookie to break, but once he decided having his person on his back wasn't a big deal he began to enjoy our rides. Very shortly after I began getting on him, we headed out on the trail. Aside from water crossings and cows, nothing generally phased him. He's a champ these days about water (and he still actively goes down the trail 4-5 times a week), but isn't so sure cattle aren't evil. ;)
In addition to my dreams for my little horse on the show circuit, I fancied keeping him a stallion. One major barrier to that, however, was our band of mares since my family had begun to liquidate bloodstock by that time. We still had his dam and two half sisters ~ with little desire and the lack of major funding to go out and purchase top quality unrelated mares which would cross well and compliment him. Therefore, he was gelded in 1989 at the age of four.
In the meanwhile, I got married in 1991 and had my beloved daughter in 1992. I always knew in my heart that someday Brutus would become my little girl's horse.
It wasn't until he was ten years old that I had an opportunity to debut him under saddle in the show ring. Because I wanted to get a feel for how he would behave and likewise stack up against the competition, we took him to an All Arabian show, but one that was smaller and unrated. Laid back, inexpensive, easy show but that had some nice horses. One of those who was in the same classes as my boy was a Half-Arabian/National Show Horse gelding who later collected a number of National Championships as an English Pleasure and Equitation horse, Holy Spirit+. Brutus had three classes and brought home two blue ribbons and a Championship on May 14, 1995. What an awesome Mothers Day gift!!
For the next several years, he was shown in Country Pleasure, winning more than his fair share of the blues and tri-colors. In 1997 we added English Show Hack to his repertoire, and he won a huge Show Hack class, besting the competition (including a number of Scottsdale and National Champions) at the 1997 Region One Championships. Two days after coming home from Regionals that year I found myself in desperate need of a Hunter Pleasure horse for one of my students. The gelding she had been taking lessons on and interested in was sold to another, and we had a show the following weekend. So, after one day off we embarked on schooling a couple of days as a Hunt seat horse, threw in a few lessons and off we went. There were blue ribbons for an incredibly happy little girl that day, too. A few weeks later at our next rated Arabian show, I put him in the Hunter Pleasure Maiden class, where he ribboned third out of 30+ horses, in addition to his Country and Show Hack commitments. He then was also named 4th in the Hunter Pleasure Championship. My little Country horse! I was so proud of him.
By the Summer of '98 I made a monumental decision to try him Western, just for fun. Because of all the Show Hack training, he was amazing at collected gaits, and it was a breeze to shift him over to a Western curb from the double bridle. In the Fall of that year, he was bringing home massive armfuls of blue ribbons on the local show level in Hunt seat and Western classes competing against the Quarter Horses and Paints. 1999 brought him back to being a Country and Show Hack mount on the Arabian circuit, all the way to Scottsdale.
After that, for a few years he did more trail riding than anything else, and after a few local shows doing the Hunter/Western thing in 2003 my lovely Brutus made a return to the ring in Show Hack during 2004. He was officially retired from being an English horse as of 2005, when he began to carry my daughter Lisa. He was winning classes left and right, and brought home three blue ribbons and the Reserve Championship in Purebred Open Western Pleasure at the Las Vegas Arabian Horse Association show that November. 2006 saw Lisa and Brutus become a beautiful, successful pair in Hunter Pleasure and they won numerous all around High Point awards together. At the 2006 Rancho California Arabian Horse Association Fall show, Brutus was named Reserve Champion Purebred Western Pleasure JTR 17 & Under with Lisa, and Champion Purebred Western Pleasure Open with me in the saddle.
This horse has won in Halter, Showmanship, Country English Pleasure, English Show Hack, Hunter Pleasure, Trail, Hunter Hack, Hunter Over Fences, Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship and more. He has competed in Parades all over Southern California and is far and away the best trail horse I have ever ridden.
Brute Force, you are one in a million. No horse could ever compare, or replace you. I love you with all my heart!