When Gabrielle Fulton first laid eyes on her future horse, she cringed.
“When I got out of the car and saw her— I didn’t know she was the horse we’d come to look at— I turned to my mother and said, “What an ugly horse.”
Thin, still shod with racing plates, and sporting an unattractive cribbing collar, the mare she calls Sable was purchased on the spot after Fulton and her mother looked around the unkempt yard where she was being kept—dogs on chains barked furiously and chickens scattered— and decided to give the mare a good home.
“I was very young at the time, and looking back, we made a lot of wrong decisions,” Fulton says. “I didn’t look at her and say that she was going to turn out to be a gorgeous horse one day. My goal was to get her out of the situation she was in” and into a home that would lavish attention and love on her.
The first year was rocky.
After getting Sable (JC: Ashley Williams) home at the end of January 2007, Gabrielle found the mare hard to handle, even a little “wild.”
And, the icing on the cake came at the end of the year, when Sable bowed a tendon. Laid up for a year to recover, the mare and new owner spent the time getting to know one another and bonding. “Looking back, it was probably a blessing in disguise because I had all that time to get to know her. During that year I learned a tremendous amount of responsibility, horsemanship, dedication and most importantly, trust,” she says. “I have learned that trust is the most important factor in my relationship with my horse. It has gotten us through milestones.”
Now as thick as thieves, the pair goes everywhere together. Sable has traveled to two different colleges with Fulton, and will move to Kentucky soon to accompany Fulton to the University of Kentucky, where the young rider will study equine law. And, in her off hours, Fulton will ride her accomplished equine partner, who has excelled at everything from jumping to running barrels and pole bending.
Posing for her high school yearbook photo with her trusty Thoroughbred, it’s no wonder that classmates described Fulton as the girl “most likely to choose her horse over her husband.”