Today has been a deeply saddening day. We said goodbye to the wonderful Freddie Fox who after 24 wonderful years was gently and sadly laid to rest surrounded by those that loved him.
Freddie Fox has given so much to the world of horses. He has helped to educate thousands of people across the world through Horses Inside Out. He has contributed to raising awareness about equine anatomy, biomechanics, movement, soundness, welfare, riding, training and management practices for the good of horses everywhere. He was a very special horse that will never be equalled.
In this article I share a little of his life story and contribution to equine anatomy.
The Early Days and Eventing
I bought Freddie from his breeder as a 5yo. At the time, with a passion for horses and eventing, I was still studying at University in Cirencester. Freddie was inexperienced, fresh and ready to spook at everything! It took time to gradually introduce him to new experiences to build up his confidence.
We thoroughly enjoyed eventing up to intermediate level at prestigious events including, Chatsworth, Belton, Longleat, Burnham Market, Withington, Barbury Castle, Tweseldown, Hambledon and Larkhill.
One of my most treasured memories with Freddie was winning the Novice class at Gatcombe. We particularly enjoyed the bold cross-country track (what a course!!) and receiving the prize for the best young rider under 25 from HRH the Princess Royal.
Equine Therapy Education
Freddie has been a huge part of my own learning journey. He entered my life half way through my time at university and helped me gain experience with my own therapy education both with my initial massage therapy training with Mary Bromiley and the McTimoney-Corley Animal Manipulation course at the Oxford College of Equine Physical Therapy as well as every course after that.
Since then he has helped so many other professional therapists on their educational journeys as he has been part of many of the CPD masterclass courses for professional therapists.
From the very Beginning of Horses Inside Out
Freddie was there at the very beginning of Horses Inside Out. I wonder, if he had been any other horse, if Horses Inside Out would have become what it is today. I was eventing him and working as a BHS freelance instructor and Equine Massage and Manipulation therapist when I realised many people could benefit from learning more about how the horse works.
So, with the BHS, I put on a series of 5 workshops at the livery yard in Cirencester where I kept Freddie at the time. As my mum was a primary school teacher she gave me some child friendly paint which I used to illustrate the position of some of the anatomical structures.
Following the initial success of those first few evenings, I was asked to give a presentation for the Event Horse Owners Association, then at Vale View Equestrian Centre with Caroline Moore, now a FBHS.
And so, Horses Inside Out was born. Every lecture demonstration seemed to lead to another.
In the early days the painting was rather primitive but Freddie was there as I improved my skills and developed my techniques always with calmness, patience and inquisitiveness.
"Freddie always loved the painting process. With him it always felt like giving a massage but with a paint brush! It was always a very therapeutic process and both of us seemed to enter a zen-like state!" Gillian Higgins
Later on, when we had work experience students joining Horses Inside Out, Freddie learned that during the painting process, there was always someone there to scratch his hamstring muscles which he loved. In later life he would sidle up to you for either a head rub or a back leg scratch which you could never deny giving as he always enjoyed it so much!
Freddie adored being the centre of attention at the lecture demonstrations and in the early days he travelled everywhere with me.
We would often be seen at one day events with remnants of colour from the lecture demonstration the day before!!!
Freddie's HIO lecture demonstration appearances included the BD conventions in 2008 and 2009, BHS APCs training days, Your Horse Live, Blenheim Horse Trials, lecture demonstrations at Vale View EC in Leicestershire, Hunters EC in Cirencester, Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, Croft Top EC in Yorkshire, Unicorn Trust EC at Stow-on-the-Wold, Solihull EC in Warwickshire, Hand EC in Bristol, Plumpton College in East Sussex, West Wilts EC in Wiltshire, the Yorkshire Riding Centre as well as presentations for various Riding Clubs and Pony Clubs.
It’s amazing to think how many people must have seen him live and learnt from him during his time as a travelling lecture demonstration horse for Horses Inside Out.
Freddie the Film Star
Freddie will of course, be known to many people as the main horse in the original Horses Inside Out DVDs - Movement from the Anatomical Perspective and Pilates for Horses and later, as part of the Horses Inside Out online video lectures, webinars and tutorial videos in the Horses Inside Out Academy.
"Freddie was always so patient but such a cheeky character during the filming process!"
Freddie also had many television appearances including for BBC news features, BBC Animals at Work and ITV's Pet Nation.
Our appearance on Pet Nation was a particularly special moment as we got to meet Liza Tarbuck and Joey Pasquali and Freddie got to relax in the Blue Peter Garden at the BBC studios in London…What a celebrity!!!
Freddie Featured in Books
"It's humbling to think just how many people across the globe must have a picture of Freddie contained within their bookshelves at home. " Gillian Higgins
After the success of the first books, How Your Horse Moves and Pilates for Horses in which Freddie was the main star, I decided to embark on the massive project of painting every anatomical system on the horse to illustrate their importance relevant to riding, training and management to be published in my book Horse Anatomy for Performance. Freddie Fox, once again, came into his own.
Freddie must hold the record for being the most painted horse that ever lived!
He has been painted with every anatomical system, the skeleton depicted from the side, from above, in front and behind! The muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments as well as the digestive, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, cardiovascular and even the reproductive system of a mare in foal!
Freddie has also helped to illustrate dermatomes, energy meridians and bony landmarks for many courses and books.
I am so pleased Freddie will live on to help future generations of equestrians from all disciplines and walks of life. He is immortalised in all of my published books and videos to date and who knows some future ones too! We have so many photographs of him I am sure he will help to educate many more people well into the future.
Freddie Fox at Home
In 2016 we bought a property with a small amount of land. So we were able to fulfil the dream and keep Freddie at home.
Since then Freddie has witnessed more dreams coming true - the development of our new classroom and he has taken part in every course run from the new HIO HQ.
I will miss his love for a fresh shavings bale. I'd place it in the middle of the stable and he would always meticulously paw at it until it was just right and then luxuriously roll in it!
Whenever I went to see or catch Freddie he would always walk up to me with his ears forward and a big smile on his face, as if to say, "What is the big adventure today?"
Whether it was eventing, hacking, riding on the beach, photoshoots or lecture demonstrations he seemed to enjoy it all and was great at playing to an audience.
The constant friend, always in need of a head rub, always there when someone needed cheering up.
Freddie, I will miss your incredible ability to search for treats in the tack room, and your ability to sneak in to the hay barn while no one notices!!
Above all, thank you Freddie Fox, for all that you have done and for just being you.
I will miss you with all of my heart.
Good Bye Freddie Fox.
You will be greatly missed.