"A Horse of a Different Color" features horses and ponies that have been successful in the sport of eventing while representing a unique breed. Do you have a horse that you think would be a great feature subject? If so, email [email protected]
Big talent can come in small packages. Take Maggie Gilbert’s pony, Toby Wan Kanobi: a 1999 bay pinto standing 14.1 hands high, Toby possesses springs in his legs that carried him and Maggie all the way to the 2014 American Eventing Championships in Texas.
Maggie’s parents originally bought Toby for her eleventh birthday. At the time, Toby had already discovered his love of jumping, and Maggie immediately fell in love with his athletic ability and quirky personality.
“Toby thinks he is the ‘big man on campus,'” Maggie explained. “No matter how big the other horses are, he lets them know he is the boss. His pasture-mate is 17 hands and is scared to death of him, which only feeds Toby’s growing ego even more.”
In addition to having a big attitude in a relatively small body, Toby’s unique background makes him a definite Horse of a Different Color; after Maggie was able to get in touch with Toby’s first owner, she discovered that his sire was a registered Paint and his dam was a gaited mare of unknown breeding.
“This is hilarious to me and my trainer, because now we know why it is so hard to get Toby to do a three-beat canter instead of a four-beat!” Maggie said.
Maggie and Toby competed in local shows for several years before trying their hand at Beginner Novice divisions in recognized horse trials with help from their trainer, Alison Jones.
“[Alison] and I set up a goal of qualifying for the Area III Championships in 2014 for Beginner Novice,” Maggie said. “Not only did Toby and I qualify for regionals, but we ended up qualifying for nationals too! It was a dream come true.
“Competing at the AECs was nothing short of a mind-blowing experience. Toby was excellent at the show and I had the time of my life!”
After celebrating their successful competition year, Maggie began training for their move up to Novice. Fortunately, their hard work paid off: Maggie and Toby finished on their personal best dressage score of 29.1 at Rocking Horse Winter I Horse Trials, placing 5th out of 15 starters.
“Dressage has always been very challenging both mentally and physically for both of us,” Maggie said, “so in my mind we had already won!”
One of Toby’s best characteristics is the way he gives his “heart and soul” to Maggie when they compete, particularly during cross-country. She plans to continue eventing with her super pony through her senior year of high school and then through college. While she doesn’t know what the future may bring, Maggie says that Toby will always have a forever home with her.
“He has been such a constant light in my life for the past six years,” Maggie said. “Even though he is a typical grumpy pony sometimes, he has a heart the size of a Clydesdale and always gives me his all.”
Best of luck to Maggie and Toby in their 2015 season! Go Ponies. Go Eventing.