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More in News
Norway horse is one-of-a-kind
ONE-OF-A-KIND — Pat Ingersoll, owner of Iron Moose Farm in Norway, rides her horse Fred who is pushing 100 – in people years. She said that he, unlike all her other horses on the farm, is very laid back.
NORWAY — "Fred was not famous for what he did; Fred was famous for who he was," writes Paris author Patricia Gott, in her new book entitled "Horse Tails by Famous Fred."
The book tells the story of 32-year-old Fred. In human years, that's about 100 years old.
Fred, a palomino quarter horse, is spending his retirement years at the 20-acre Iron Moose Farm in Norway, with owners Pat and John Ingersoll.
Pat has been involved in rescuing unwanted, abused or neglected horses since 1980.
Nearly four years ago, the couple moved to the area from Boxford, MA so they could have more space for their eleven horses – including Fred.
In her book, Fred tells his life story about the struggles of being rescued, adopted and retrained, says Gott.
Fred is "a horse with a kind and gentle spirit who was loved by entire neighborhoods and towns in northeast Massachusetts and who showed his appreciation everyday for being rescued and given a second chance at life," she writes.
According to Gott, Fred has gone from a professional polo pony to a family pet, from a hunter to a pleasure horse, all in his 32-plus years of life. He has also been used as a carriage-driving horse, adds Ingersoll.
"He was so versatile and willing to cooperate, as long as he was happy with what he was doing, and his person [owner] was happy," she said. Anybody in the horse community that needed an interim horse would use Fred, she said. "That's how he came to live with nine or 10 people over the years. His last stop was with me."
Before the Ingersolls adopted Fred in 2003, he was taken under the wing of Alice Turner, who in 1991 rescued him from being the subject of an experiment by the veterinary school at Tufts University.
"Fred was a horse that was rescued when he was only five years old," says Ingersoll, "because he [refused] to do the job that somebody wanted him to do.
"He didn't want to be a school horse in a polo school. He was a polo horse teaching riders to play polo that didn't know how to ride. Every time he stepped onto the field ... he was ridden by inexperienced people; his mouth was pulled on; he was hit with balls; he was hit with mallets and people would fall off of him.
"You really have to look at it from his perspective; he didn't like it, and this is why the book is told as if he were writing it."
Ingersoll said that, one day, Fred refused to go out onto the field. "Nothing could make him go out," says Ingersoll. "The owner of the school decided, 'if you're not going to make me money, then I can't have you here.' He was going to send him to Tufts University as an experimental horse; then he could take a tax write-off, by donating him."
"Lord knows what would have happened to him there," says Ingersoll.
Fred's forte is being a pleasure horse. At one point in his life, he was also used as a therapeutic horse at Wind Rush Farm Therapeutic Riding School in Boxford.
"He was such a good-natured horse ... that anybody could ride him," says Ingersoll. "He wouldn't do anything stupid or foolish, which horses often do — they take advantage of inexperienced riders."
But Fred is not like that, she said. "He knows who he's got on his back, and he knows how much he can do."
Despite his age, Ingersoll says that Fred is in excellent health. "As a matter of fact, he is flourishing better here in Maine than he did with me in Massachusetts," she says.
But Gott says that to most people who meet, and even get to know Fred, he is more than just any old pony.
"He changed the way that people see horseback riding," she explained. "He seemed to change their lives. He is very different. He has very different intonations. His whinny is as though he is actually talking."
"He's very vocal," agrees Ingersoll. "He's the farm's greeter."
From Gott's perspective,"he's like a person reincarnated into a horse."
Ingersoll says that Fred is like a 1,200-pound dog that "loves to be scratched and petted ... He loves to be itched along his neck. He will lead himself from the pasture into the barn all by himself," which most of her horses don't do.
Fred loves people, especially children. Most children, Ingersoll says, are usually intimidated by horses — but not by Fred. "I've seen at least three kids that have come for visits, that have opened up, and bloomed," including a three year old that at first, "was so afraid of everything."
"But kids come, and they want to see Fred," says Ingersoll. "He's a little kid magnet."
Since she was 8 years old, Gott has always owned, raised and trained horses. She said she now owns two Arabian horses.
Gott said that horses are lucky if they even live to be 25 years old these days. She said that 1 out of 500 horses die before the age of 30. Ingersoll said if they are well-taken-care-of, though, they can live to be nearly 40. She said her oldest horse was 38 when it had to be put down.
"Some horses, when they get old, they droop like a hound dog, but Fred doesn't have that demeanor," says Gott.
"At 32, sometimes they aren't that frisky, but he is," agrees Ingersoll.
"He enjoys being here, and being the ambassador of the barn," she says.
"He looks fabulous. You would never know he was 32 years old. He's loving life."
Gott will hold a book signing at Books N Things in Norway on June 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to sign "Horse Tails by Famous Fred."