Sable Giesler: Taming the Evil Munchkin

She cruised around the big cross-country course at Lexington, Kentucky, in 2011, but Sable Giesler's eventing debut five years before didn't

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By: Tracy Hanes |

“At my first event, I got lost on course,” she confesses. “I was 11 and asked the jump judges where to go, but they said they weren’t allowed to tell me.” Despite that, the Northern Ontario girl was hooked on eventing. In July, Sable, 16, and her eight-year-old Holsteiner gelding Evil Munchkin returned home to Powassan from the North American Junior and Young Riders’ Championships with an individual silver medal and team bronze in the CCI* division.

Sable started riding at 10, when her parents sent their only child to camp at a local hunter/ jumper barn. “I absolutely loved it and started working there on Saturdays mucking stalls in exchange for lessons,” she says.

When two barely-broken paint horses came up for sale, Sable and her mother bought them. “Dad wasn’t happy about that,” recalls Sable. The green horses proved too much for her mom, but Sable was unfazed. My trainer said, “Wild horses buck, Sable, get used to it,” she recalls. “I have a video of my parents, who are not horse people, watching me try to ride this horse and it wouldn’t canter, just buck. They are saying, “Sit up, sit up, give her a kick.”

Sable met Madison Lawson (now a para-dressage rider who represented Canada at the 2010 World Equestrian Games) who encouraged her to come to an event camp with Lawson’s coach Paige Lockton. She also met dressage coach Elaine Potter, “who exposed us to riding on a larger scale than just locally.”

Sable started eventing her paint horses. She sold one in 2007 and bought Shrunk, a New Zealand sport horse that had competed to advanced level, from Nicole Shinton. A year later, Shrunk died after a schooling accident. “It was really upsetting,” says Sable. “Mom begged me to quit riding because she saw how heartbroken I was, and she started telling me about the other things I could buy or do with the money we’d spent on horses. I told her I wanted to ride more than any of the other stuff.”

They called Shinton, who didn’t have an experienced horse for sale, but had a small gelding named Carino. “He was five and had done one jumper show with Will Coleman. He was barely 15.3 hands, but had a really impressive freejumping video,” says Sable “I was only 13 and the first two weeks I owned him, he bucked me off three times.”

That inspired his show name, Evil Munchkin, although he is known as Rambo around the barn.

Sable’s parents sent Rambo to a trainer who told them the horse was dangerous and should be sold. They turned to Canadian Equestrian Team member Kyle Carter. “Rambo had a hissy fit and Kyle stayed on. He told me I had to be persistent with him,” says Sable.

In 2009, she sold her last paint horse and bought Pamela, an Irish Sport Horse mare that Shinton had evented to the advanced level. The mare took Sable to a one-star before suffering a tendon injury and is now in foal.

With Carter’s help, Sable and Rambo reached an uneasy truce. After a season of novice, last year they did four training events, then moved up to preliminary, finishing on top of the Ontario Horse Trials leaderboard. “He was still pretty wild last year,” says Sable. “His dressage has always been there, but I finally got him behaving enough to put in decent tests. He is not a hot horse; he’ll be just standing there, then he’s bucking and leaping. I didn’t used to be able to stay on, but I just laugh at it now.”

She says the gelding is curious and intelligent, but not particularly brave. “He backs off the fences a bit, which is why he show jumps so well.”

This year, Sable and Rambo won their intermediate debut at Dreamcrest. She trained during the summer with Ian Roberts and in January heads to Florida for the fourth year to train with Carter and compete in US horse trials.

Her mother, who owns a business, works from there while her father holds down the fort at home. Sable does her high school courses online and has plans to attend university in the future, explaining, “I’d love to have a career with horses and I intend to keep riding, but I need a backup plan.”