Sebastian was born in a racing barn in Ocala, Florida in the early 1990’s. His American Jockey Club registered name is David’s Courage, a fitting name for the thoroughbred who only reached 15.3 hands high as an adult, but has always had the heart of a champion. A descendant of Secretariat, War Admiral and a grandmother (Real Courage) who was the leading stakes winner in Florida, he was bred to run. He won his first race at Tampa Bay Downs and had several other successful races before bowing a tendon, ending his short racing career. He then worked as a pony horse for the track.
There are about eight years unaccounted for in Sebastian’s life. At eleven years old he was purchased from an isolated pasture in Ocala by a woman with dreams of learning to jump. After being thoroughly vetted, it was determined that Sebastian had experienced some rough times during his life; he had a permanent hairless scar on his back and a previously broken rib, leading some to speculate that he’d possibly been in a barn fire at some point. He was not willing to trust at first, and proved to be a sometimes dangerous handful for the new riding student who purchased him. After many trials and tribulations (and almost selling him), the woman began incorporating natural horsemanship techniques with Sebastian. This process of starting over forged a strong bond of love and trust between the two.
Sebastian’s jumping training was remarkable. While it was apparent that he’d never formerly jumped, he took to it with an incredible athleticism and ability. It wasn’t long before he was jumping 3-4’ jumps in the show ring (and would’ve gone higher had his mom been brave enough). He pulled many firsts, reserves and grand champions in his career. He remained a difficult ride and even some of the most talented riders around would immediately come off of him, either by choice or by accident. It would take years before his “mom” figured out that she’d learned far more about riding well from him than he had from her and the trainers she’d employed. By then, the two were a team that couldn’t, and wouldn’t, be separated.
Proof of Sebastian’s love of jumping came the day he was moved to the three acres his mom purchased just so she could have him at home. Within his first hours there, after being shown where the gates and paddocks were, he galloped by as she stood on the porch watching him, snorted and jumped right over the more than 4′ paddock fence. He galloped toward the fence closest to the road, turned and came back the same way, sailing over the fence yet again, and ran straight to his mom as if to say, ” I approve of my new home!”
Sebastian was at his healthiest and happiest during these two years. Then, as it will do, life began to get in the way. Sebastian’s mom began to be increasingly absent and did not have much time for him. She was busy taking care of her elderly parents, who were both diagnosed with cancer within a short time of each other. She struggled to keep the little farm, but ended up needing to be in town, closer to her parents. Sebastian went back into boarding.
Struggling with care-taking duties and finances, Sebastian’s mom lost her job and saw less and less of him. By this time, he was 22-23 years old, although he was never quite content with the idea of “retirement” (and still isn’t)! And then, during the summer that both of her parents died, Sebastian became gravely ill. She arrived at the barn one day to find that Sebastian had dropped hundreds of pounds in weight. One look in his now dull eye and she knew he was dying. The vet was called, tests were ran, and despite having been wormed two weeks prior, it was determined that Sebastian had been the victim of very poor feeding and parasites.
His mom realized she could no longer care for him properly, the way he deserved. He began a very slow healing process while his mom looked for someone to give him the home he truly deserved while she tried to rebuild her own life. As painful as it was to do this, she knew it was the best thing for him. Luckily, and by the grace of God, a close friend steered her to SEER and Second Chances, where Sebastian has been promised sanctuary for the remainder of his life. He continues to gain weight with the help of these equine-angels.
Present & Future
What this doesn’t tell you about Sebastian is that, at 24 years old now, he has a delightful sense of humor and is incredibly intelligent and personable. He loves to pull ball caps off of heads and hold them with his teeth, eat peppermint candies, and hold his human’s shirt gently with just his teeth (but will never, ever accidentally bite). A long, athletic life has left him full of arthritis and various issues from old injuries, but he’ll always have the heart of the champion he’s been, with or without ribbons and trophies.