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Life's Work: Claudio Fabian, presented by Shadwell

December 2, 2020

If there’s one thing Claudio Fabian knows, it’s horses. Born and raised in Guatemala, Claudio grew up riding and tending to his grandfather’s horses. So, when he came to America years later, Claudio knew exactly how he was going to make a living. 

“I know when I come here, that I am going to work with horses. And I feel very blessed to get this job. Half my life I have worked with horses.” 

Over the last 18 years, Claudio has devoted his days tending to horses, first in Louisiana, then in Kentucky. In that time, he has worked for only a few trainers, and that in itself speaks volumes. Work ethic and loyalty may be harder to come by these days, but for Claudio, it’s the only way to be. 

Because this is demanding work. It takes patience and attentiveness. “It’s very important to be patient, to build a good relationship with the horses. Because they understand. And we need to understand them, too.”

Like so many horsemen, Claudio begins his day long before the sun rises—grooming, cleaning, filling buckets, removing bandages, mucking stalls, saddling the horses for their morning workout. 

“When I go to the barn and my horses see me, they do something. I think they feel happy when they see me. And I talk to them like a person and say ‘hey, what’s happening, what’s going?’ And that’s all so beautiful.” 

These days, Claudio works at The Thoroughbred Center for trainer Scott Hansen. Before the pandemic struck, Claudio was also passionate about being involved in Keeneland’s Chaplaincy program, where he’d play guitar and help translate services held in the Keeneland Track Kitchen. 

“I’m very thankful to God, because he gave me the opportunity to stay here, to have a very good boss, for my family. Now that is a very proud part of my life. We are a very good family.” 

Claudio and his wife have two teenage children. His son James is finishing high school and preparing to go to college. His daughter Emily is considering a future career in photography.

“I am very happy. I’m very blessed to have this job. Because the horses give me everything that I give to my family.”

Claudio has given his life to horses. And in return, horses have given Claudio and his family a better life. 

And for that, he feels blessed beyond belief.