Monday, June 30, 2008

Faula Arabs Gubbio

Friday June 27 2008

Two gold medals, four sliver, one bronze in European and World Endurance Championships. Once Italian Champion (1997), once European team Champion (2001), once Individual European Champion (2001). One otherworldly horse - Faris Jabar. And this, after Fausto Fiorucci only began riding horses about 15 years ago, in the early 1990's. He'd been a runner, and biker, and a champion fisherman, but it wasn't till his friends said to him one day, "Come ride a 30 km ride with us," that he got on an endurance horse for the first time in his 40's. He won. And he was hooked.

Whether it was beginner's luck, or skill, or both, Fausto came across perfection early - he liked the young 3-year-old Faris Jabar ("brave rider") the first time he saw him, but it wasn't until 2 years later that he got him. He was a stallion at the time, and, Fausto shakes his head, "He was impossible." Once gelded, Faris eventually blossomed into a terrific endurance horse - nothing like him in the world, Fausto will tell you. He may be biased (who isn't about their own horse), but all those medals and the Italian championship came with Faris Jabar. When Fausto speaks of Faris, he is still, after 15 years of competing on him, amazed at what the horse can do - at his mind, at his heart, at his will, at his turn of foot. Fausto runs out of words, and it's not just because he can't find the English word, or I can't understand the Italian word. It's because Faris Jabar still leaves him speechless, shaking his head. "He has.... not just heart... but..." he gestured inside and whirling up to the heavens. "Soul," I offered. "Yes. Soul." Later he came up with another description: "He is like poetry. He is my endurance poem fantasy." When he rides Faris, he controls him with just his voice, not his legs, "OK Faris, let's go!" - although sometimes he admits he does have to use his arms to pull back on him and slow him down.

Fausto and Faris just won a 120 km race a few weeks ago - Fausto clocked the last loop at over 50 km/h - and were going to compete in the Gubbio CEIO Nations Cup on Saturday (of which Fausto is Organizer), but Fausto broke his ribs while riding another horse recently. It isn't the first time Fausto has ridden injured - he's ridden shortly after surgery on a busted ankle, and once with a torn shoulder ligament (both times, he had to be lifted on and off the horse), but this time he's a bit concerned about puncturing a lung if anything else happens.

He and his wife Laura Ombretta founded Faula Arabs in 1992, shortly after Fausto began riding endurance. Through the years, with his steady success, and his dedicated observation and careful studying of the horse, Fausto developed his own approach to endurance, which he offers in an endurance school, with emphasis on not one particular thing, but all the details in the whole picture. "You can have 1000 things, and if one thing is wrong, the whole thing is no good." If a horse has a problem, you have to think ahead to possible consequences, not just look at the one little problem. In his endurance school, he shares his experiences in conditioning, balanced riding, proper equipment, feeding, and shoeing. Nine years ago he developed his own patented Horsetec horseshoes, (Faris was his first guinea pig), which all the horses in his stable now use.

Fausto seems to some horsemen to have the secret to fixing lameness and soreness problems; but his secret is: "There is no secret." It's common sense. You look at the horse, you think about what is going on with the horse. "If you have one small problem with the foot and you try to correct it this way, you affect the horse here (the knee), or maybe here (the shoulder). You have to think about everything."

Fausto currently has 9 horses ("That's enough!") to ride, several brothers to Faris Jabar, and an able young horseman, Matteo, to assist. "He's my future!" says Fausto.

You can see Fausto's obvious appreciation for not only his horses, but for animals in general - his barn is full of cats, who come running like dogs when they hear his voice, guineas, chickens, a swan and a duck. And then there's Du Du William de Villa Fiorucci (or some such title), fierce Lord of the Fiorucci manor, ferocious protector of Fausto and Ombretta, who doesn't know he's the size of a teacup.

He's the apple of the Fioruccis' eyes... just like a certain gray 20 year old gelding in one of the Faula Arabs paddocks.

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