- Where Barn Banter Goes Global
Please support

Jean Abernethy, the Artist behind Fergus

Published: 3/14/2013
View comments


The wise, white-faced goofball has inspired more laughs and devotion than any cartoon horse in recent memory. He's got more than 50,000 facebook fans. And that's just counting humans.

It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing horses wearing WWFD [What Would Fergus Do?] halters.

Fergus is the creation of Jean Abernethy, a petite, 51-year old Canadian. The Ontario College of Art graduate is also an accomplished artist of more serious work, a book illustrator, an experienced commercial artist, and of course, a horsewoman.

Abernethy, who grew up on a farm north of Toronto, remains humble about her Fergus success. Everyone appreciates the funny moments of horse ownership, she said, “I just happen to be someone who can draw.”

NickerNews spoke with her this week. Read Part One of our interview here. [Photo below by Betty Smith]

NN: Is Fergus a horse from your past, a mix of several horses, or one from your imagination?

JA: I like to say Fergus is a little bit of every horse I’ve ever met.
There is no particular one horse. Although when I was 13 years old, my father let me buy a colt off a PMU farm.
I had outgrown the family pony.
It was in the fall. He was a weanling. That horse had a lot of white on his face. That’s where Fergus’ white face came from.
His name was Justin. That was an incredible horse. He was a quarterhorse crossed with we don’t know what. Perhaps Standardbred. He was 15-2. An all around great guy.

NN: Did Justin teach you or did you teach Justin?

JA: Yes.
He taught me a lot.
I thought I was teaching him. But you know how it is. It’s mutual. He taught me a lot about forgiveness. Because I thought I knew what I was doing.
He suffered because of it. He was amazing…He forgave a lot of childish mistakes. I was 13 after all.
I had learned a lot from the family pony. I started riding her at the age of seven. She was tiny and very, very skittish. And we had everything for her to spook at - pigs, dogs, you name it. There was no saddle.
So by the time I got to the horse, I was strong and I could ride.

NN: Fergus has had such wonderful success on facebook. Why do you think he’s been so well received?

JA: I attribute the success to the humor being right where horse people's hearts are.
Some of these comics have been around a while. Some have been around before facebook existed.
We started in black and white. Pen, brush, paper. I’m getting some of them out of the mothballs. I’m coloring them on the computer and now I can show them to the whole world. Not just magazines.
The response is terrific.

  Sure enough!

Read Part II

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List iconSign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust

View Reader Comments:

add your comment
12/19/2014 Stevie Hartley
Loving these trailer drawings.

"There are no problem horses, only problem riders" - Mary Twelveponies