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remembering WENDEL


By Gigi Nutter T From Average to


here is very little certainty in the horse business. Purchasing a genetically gifted yearling with an impeccable pedigree


does not guarantee success. Nor does buying an average horse necessarily doom you to mediocrity. Many riders involved with equestrian sports have witnessed examples of both situations. In America, it is fashionable to buy European horses with spectacular athletic ability—only to discover previous improper training or a case of “mental founder.” Occasionally, you will see a horse of limited ability and questionable heritage that with understanding guidance will achieve far more than expected. Fahrenheit, fondly known as Wendel, is an excellent example of the latter.


EXUBERANT BEGINNING For several years Marilyn Murphy had invited me to conduct clinics at her Green Point Farm located in Jonestown, Pennsylvania. She enjoys breeding and finding young sport horses with potential. In the fall of 1993, she sent me a three-year old, Canadian-bred, Hanoverian gelding named Fahrenheit on consignment. His sire was Wendland and his dam was Lenare out of Lepanto. He was a sweet-natured horse with three clear gaits but nothing special. I don’t recall why but Fahrenheit became “Wendel” around the barn. Barely broken, I began evaluating his strengths and weaknesses. The lunge line revealed an absolute disdain


20 May/June 2011


Extraordinary


for going forward. Under saddle, any increase in leg pressure resulted in an attempt to bite my foot followed by a kick and a buck! He was certainly not a dressage prospect for the amateur rider. The work at free jumping proved much more promising. We would run him down a chute and he would clear a five-foot fence with room to spare. Wendel


loved our clapping and cheers so he would walk back to the crowd, take a treat and run back to the jumping chute for another go. After seeing his willingness over fences, I called Marilyn and purchased him for myself as a jumper. I was still competing in both dressage and


hunters and jumpers at the time. The years 1994 and 1995 were a blur of changes. I met and married my husband Scott, moved to Georgia, started a family and opened our own farm called Touch ‘n Go in


Whitesburg, Georgia. Honestly, it was the spring of 1996 before I could begin training Wendel in earnest. The time off did nothing to improve his desire to move forward. His


schooling progressed slowly and with too many bucking fits to count. Since my Dutch stallion Vergil had been sold and my other FEI


dressage horse Glitter Please was unsound, I decided to try to train Wendel to second level dressage for resale. (Glitter Please was also known as Hot Legs and was a rare palomino Thoroughbred stallion I owned.) I also needed a


Wendel and Gigi's victory gallop after winning the Region 3 Grand Prix championship in 2002. Photo by Phelps Photos


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